Wednesday, 9 March 2016

How is snow made? Why is snow cold? Exploring and investigating snow!

"Inquiries often engage children in using reading, writing, listening, and speaking for multiple purposes while they are learning about topics meaningful to them. Student choice and voice, where possible, is very important. Young children naturally construct knowledge as they participate with others as they inquire, experiment, solve problems, play, and learn together. They also need direct teaching involving scaffolding through modelling, demonstrating, explaining, and guided practice."  (Routman, 2005; Neuman and Roskos 2007).
Multiple Paths to Literacy (Trehearne, 2016, 317, 318)

This winter has been very unpredictable but the day we finally received a nice amount of snow the children were all too eager to go outside and play in it! 

The outdoor experience lead to some wonderful discussions:

"I think snow is white because it comes from the clouds and they are white. I can draw clouds." A. J.

"I think snow is frozen rain and changes into snowflakes and forms different shapes." B. P.

"How do snowflakes fall from the sky?" J. B. & K. C.

"I think the wind pushes it from the sky." S. F.

"I think the air pushes the snow because it is stronger than the snow so it pushes it down." L. B.

"I don't agree with L. B. because the snowflakes are breakable and it will break them." C. D.

"Snowflakes glide down like paper and it doesn't fall down from the sky it glides. Paper is the only thing I can think of like snowflakes, it's thin like a snowflake, white, and flat like a snowflake." Z. G.

"Why is snow cold?" R. S.

"Because it's kinda like ice, so when something scrapes the ice it makes snow like the clouds moving together." Z. G.

"We can crush up ice, maybe it will make snow!" Z. B.

"When I go skating my brother makes snow with his blades so it's like what Z. G. was saying." C. C.

"I wonder why they are all different?" C. C.

"I think snowflakes are made when it rains and then it turns frozen in the clouds and then it makes a shape of a snowflake. The clouds twists around like weaving to make the shape different." B. P.

"It's a blanket for the plants and it's white." K. C.

"Snow it kinda snowflakes." M. N.

"Snow is melted hearts from the sky in the snow." C. T.

"I saw lots of snowflakes on Mrs. Powell's jacket. A whole one looked like a flower. All the rest were cracked snowflakes, they cracked when they fall from the sky because there is a little water inside them." Z. G.

"I wonder why snow only comes in the winter?" K. C.

"When I was on the slide I put out my hand and saw snowflakes with different patterns." L. B.

"Why don't we call snow snowflakes?" R. S.

"When I was outside I feeled the snowflakes on my hand, they felt tickly." M. K.

"When I was outside I saw the snowflakes sticking together." B. P.

Being cognoscente of the children's theories, wonders, and observations, we created provocations and offered experiences that would support and extend learning and possibly bring on new curiosity. 

I find setting up experiences and provocations to be very important but also a challenging aspect of inquiry based learning. There are many great ideas on social media abound many topics, but the children's wonders, theories, and observations should be the guide to the type of experiences offered. Below are a few examples of what we set up with the children that were linked to their discussions about snow.

The children were also invited to sketch and paint any observations, wonders, or theories they had about snow.

A few children were very captivated by the diagram in the book "The Story of Snow" and decided they wanted to recreate it using materials found at the Art Studio.

Noticing that the children continued to have a strong interest in snow, we co-created an inquiry binder to place our learning and wonders in.

Below are just a few samples of the children's work that were placed in the binder. 

Poems, books, experiments, observations, and photo documentation are found inside the binder from a variety of children.

As the children gained more knowledge about snow they returned to C. C.'s wonder question: "I wonder why they are all different?" C. C.

"I think it's because they grow different patterns." J. K.

"Because when they fall from the sky they all form different shapes so you can't get them mixed up." K. C.

"If they were all the same we would be bored with them." A. R.

"Sometimes the clouds make a shape and that's how they make different snowflakes." D. C.

"Clouds are all different and have pieces from the clouds make different snowflakes." F. D. 

"It's because clouds are different and the snowflakes come from pieces of the clouds which are different shapes, it's like my pasta when I turn it on my fork it gets different shapes." Z. G.

We decided to set up a crystal growing experiment to support further learning. The children were amazed when they noticed the crystals that formed the next day! 

One morning after outdoor play, a discussion began about the different consistencies of snow.

We had another lovely day of snow so back outside we went to explore the texture and consistency of snow further!

We brought some snow inside. A few children were curious about what makes different types of snow? They experimented with different amounts of water and snow to create slushy snow and packing snow!

Based on Z. G.'s request, we also froze water and he used a chisel to show us another way that he thought snow could be made!

We were very lucky one day when it started snowing and we were able to see the snowflakes slowly gliding in the air. Quickly we grabbed some black paper and headed back outside to try and catch some snowflakes on our paper!

"How something so small like snowflakes can cover so much space?" L. S.

"It's so small and Canada is so big!" L. S.

"Because there are many snowflakes much much more than 100 snowflakes!" Z. G.

"Like a million!" J. B.

"There is more than a million because they are very tiny." F. D.

"Maybe it matters how long it fell, how long it was falling." M. O.

"I don't think you can count snowflakes because it takes too long and we can't be everywhere but we can measure how deep it is." Z. G.

The children's fascination with snow continues but with the warm temperatures and the fabulous melting that just recently started a new wonder emerged!

It is important to note that the goal of inquiry based learning is not necessarily to achieve correct answers. It is more of a process that supports and fosters children with the ability to be curious and make observations, ask questions, come up with their own theories, and most importantly instilling self confidence through their journey of discovery. 

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