Looking Closely at Snow


This inquiry does not even require you to leave the classroom! Instead, students gather around the window and use Visual Thinking Strategies to talk about what they see in the snowy school yard.  This questioning strategy also works well when students discover interesting ice or snow formations on the school  grounds: they can take a picture, or bring the class outside, to examine their discovery.

Here are a few examples of questions that can be explored with careful and close observation:


What do you see?  Take a visual inventory of details that stand out to you.

  • Where do you notice more or less snow?
  • What do you notice about what the snow looks like in different places? What words would you use to describe it? (Fluffy, clumpy, bumpy, smooth?)
  • What do you think the snow feels like in different places? What makes you say that?


What is happening in this winter landscape?

  • Where is the snow and what is it doing?
  • What patterns can you discover?  What surprises you?
  • Where does the snow come from? Where will the snow go?


What story does this winter landscape tell?

  • What can you tell about snow and winter on the school grounds?
  • What parts of the story do you still wonder about?
  • How much water is on the playground? How could you find out?

 What are your students noticing or wondering about water in winter?  Please comment or send a photo, video, notes or audio recording of their ideas.




Looking Even Closer at Snow

If you want to look even closer at types of water without leaving the classroom, you can also try using Visual Thinking Strategies with up-close photographs by Snowflake Bentley. Bentley was a farmer from Vermont who perfected the art of snowflake photography. Examples of his pictures are below.

  • What shapes do you see in the snowflakes?
  • Are there any similarities between the snowflakes?
  • How do you think Bentley was able to photograph the snowflakes so closely?
  • How would YOU photograph a snowflake?


Do You Wonder What’s Going on Under the Snow?

Over-and-Under-Snow Kate Messner

Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner

Check out these beautiful
non-fiction picture books!




– Ally, Carol, Catherine, Hannah


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