The Snowy Day

The Book

The Snowy Day is a great book. It stands out as a classic work of children's literature. The artwork is phenomenal. In fact, Keats won the Caldecott Award in 1963 for this book. The Caldecott Award is given once a year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Its kind of a big deal! 

The Resource

With this resource, the students will read the book and understand how the illustrations help comprehension of the text. They will also determine the central message of the story by analyzing the details. Students will create a work of art based on this book. Extension and assessment ideas are offered. These include a checklist for the original student artwork and a guide for using artwork by Grandma Moses to discuss main idea and details. (The lesson resource is $10.00 in my TpT store).

The Reflection 

I also had the students write a reflection about their artwork after they completed it. I have been trying to have the students do more reflecting in my classroom. I have also had the goal of allowing the students to record their reflections on paper this year. 

I created a Writing Prompt sheet for this particular lesson. I copied one set of these and passed them out during each of my classes. It was helpful for the students to have the prompts right there to reread as needed. It was also helpful to provide the students with choices as a form of differentiation. I asked them to just choose one prompt, but some of the students really got into it and responded to all three prompts! I differentiated further for students with special needs and documented plans by having them dictate responses to me or allowing them extra time. (The Writing Prompt is free in my TpT store.)

The Artwork

The Theory Behind It

Before I end this post, I would like to address one aspect of this lesson that I know can be controversial. I let the students trace the shape of the character. I have had many debates about this with other art teachers. Some feel they should never trace anything and should only be drawing their own shapes. 

I disagree with this for several reasons. Tracing requires focus and fine motor skills that are different from just drawing. Those skills are important to artistic process. In fact, many visual artists use tracing and create templates quite often. Sometimes I use this in my own artistic endeavors. This is a skill that artists need to develop. So, it is appropriate to use this as a technique in art-making sometimes. We draw our own shapes the majority of the time, but sometimes I elect to have them trace a template as I did in this lesson. 

Artistically speaking, this lesson was about manipulating media and honing fine motor skills. They had to tear, cut, glue, sprinkle, use drawing tools, and hold a template to trace. I gave them plenty of choices to make this work their own. They could choose to add snowflakes or swirls to the background. They could choose what colors to use to add texture to the snow. They chose a background color. They chose their own arrangement and placement of the objects on the page. 

I believe providing structured choices that lead to artistic decision-making is a best practice in visual art instruction. So, that's a little theory behind how I developed this lesson and why I made the decision that I did. I always feel like I have to address those issues. I want teachers to understand these things because I am aware there are many cute for cute's sake crafty project ideas out there. 

Teachers should be choosing arts lessons for their students that are fun and encourage creative decision-making and critical thinking while developing fine motor skills. Plus, if such a lesson can integrate learning in other content areas students get even more bang for their buck! (This is actually why I started this blog! I want to help teachers do this for their students!)