I am repeating this project for the third year with 3rd grade students. We start out reading the biography of Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Marian Azarian and follow (the next week) with the students researching snow using atlases, dictionaries and encyclopedias (online). The third week we review the information they gathered about snow and go on to cutting out paper snowflakes.
Cutting Paper Snowflakes
The first time I did this activity with students I was amazed that not one student had ever cut out paper snow flakes. I spent hours as a child cutting snowflakes out of white paper, pages from magazines, any kind of paper I could get my hands on. So it is so much fun watching them unfold their snowflakes and almost universally gasp when they see their creation!
Exploring Websites with Thinglink
I revised my Thinglink image and attempted to have the students use their tablets (we are a 1:1 device school). https://www.thinglink.com/scene/479319938847211522I tried out the Thinglink on a tablet and the links all worked, so I had the first class bring their tablets. However, the best laid plans…only 2 out of 21 tablets displayed the website correctly! So, plan B was to use the 8 desktops in the library. This meant the students had to share, but otherwise it was smooth. I figured out that I could use Livebinders as I have used it successfully in the past; it’s just doesn’t look as cool as Thinglink!
I designed a graphic organizer to guide the students as they used the Thinglink (or Livebinder) and explored the various websites. I think it helped the students stay on task. It also gave the students a way to think about what they were watching, reading or exploring.
Students creating digital snowflakes! It’s very addictive.
Again this year, I have used snow as a theme to review library skills and incorporate some fun! We read Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s biography, Snowflake Bentley, then students research snow using the dictionary and encyclopedia (all on-line sources
Snowflakes cut out from paper. The only type of snow we see in south Georgia!
this year, World Book Online and Merriam-Webster online).
The second time we meet the students share the information they gathered and I record it for a later session. Then the students cut snowflakes out of paper. Growing up I spent many hours cutting out snowflakes from paper and magazines, but for nearly every 3rd grader, this was their first experience. They were so excited when they unfolded their creations!
This year when we meet for the third time, I have the students bring their tablets. We have just completed our school districts 1:1 initiative and each student has a Dell Pro Venue 11. I used Bit.ly to shorten the Thinglink URL (https://www.thinglink.com/scene/479319938847211522) I created to curate various websites about Bentley, his photographs, snow photos and sites used for creating digital snowflakes. I color code the links so that students can explore at least one website (yellow dots) before going to the websites where they start making digital snowflakes (red dots), because once they start making digital snow they can’t stop!
I bet you won’t be able to stop either; it’s rather addictive. Check them out: Make-a-Flake (http://snowflakes.barkleyus.com/) and SnowDays (http://snowdays.me/). It was more fun for the students this year as they didn’t have to share the 8 computers I have in the library. Each student brought their tablet and so were able to work individually.
3rd grade student using tablet to create a digital snowflake.