Here comes the snow – Let’s get learning

More and more frequently we are now experiencing a snowy winter which I personally think is great. Snow is regularly complained about along with how the world stopping for snow, we don’t see it that often and so it’s understandable that we want to make the most of it! However, do we all make the most of it in lessons?

When it snows headteachers face the impossible job of deciding whether or not to close. There is never a right answer, a clear picture of this can be seen on Julia’s blog, here: http://www.theheadsoffice.co.uk/the-dilema/

In the interest of safety the children in our school are not allowed outside whilst there is snow or ice on the playground. If it is possible to cordon off a section we will do that but otherwise they’re stuck indoors staring out the window longingly. This year I decided to make the most of the snow and get the children our in it…

I checked with my headteacher that I was ok to take them out and she said that I could as long as I didn’t let them get their feet wet; challenge number 1! As most of the children would have a change of shoes for P.E. I decided that they should be able to go outside in their schools shoes and then change into their P.E shoes that should be fine.

Now to the lesson, maths seemed like the most obvious choice to take outside and as we had not worked on measuring for a while I decided this was a good time to revisit it. We decided to see how far we could throw snowballs, measuring as accurately as we can (LA: up to 0.5cm accuracy. HA: to the exact mm) and recording it in a table of results. I happened to mention this plan to a year 3 teacher and she thought it was a fab idea and wanted to join us. We mixed together the year 3s and 5s getting them to work together and with both a year 3 and 5 recording the data together.

I did the necessary safety talk and checked all the children had coats and a change of shoes. The children all had coats but 2 did not have a change of shoes; I told those that they could come out and throw the snow (standing on the edge, scooping it up and throwing from the safety of the clear pavement) but they would not be allowed a turn measuring. The children were very good at accepting the rules and worked fantastically with each other. Before we knew it it was time to come in change our shoes ready for the next lesson!

Over the next two days we worked on the data we had collected whilst throwing snow balls. We created graphs, learnt about the mode, mean, median and range and created a poster displaying all the information. The children worked so hard to ensure that their work look beautiful as well as being accurate and they were all incredibly motivated even after the snow throwing.

You can see examples of their work here: http://bvsyear5.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/snowy-maths/

Please take the time to have a look at the work they created and if possible leave a comment.

The learning that took place here wasn’t what was on my overview or my short-term plan; we never know when we’re going to get snow so it’s nearly impossible for that to happen. What I do know is that the children were more focused than on usual snowy days and were eager to do the best in their work, they made sensible choices and understand why the rules I had put in place were there. All it makes me wonder is – why don’t we do it more often? Let’s get out and get learning!

I have since found a Twitter contact who lives in Alaska, if we get any more snow I am hoping that we’ll be able to do some data collection and compare it with their snow levels…perhaps who can build the tallest snowman!

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