Book Ideas: The First Day of Winter

Article by Jeanine Brownell
This charming tale by Denise Fleming (Henry Holt and Company, 2005) is the perfect book for any wintry day—and a fun way to introduce a lot of important mathematical ideas. As a little boy adds more and more trimmings to a snowman on each page, children can chant along and experience the growing pattern:  “4 prickly pinecones, 3 striped scarves, 2 bright blue mittens, and a red cap with a gold snap.” By the time they reach “10 salty peanuts,” the children are recognizing increases in quantity and the snowman is looking fabulous.

Beyond counting and growing patterns, there are many more math-related ideas and activities that can be drawn from the book. Building and decorating a real snowman outdoors provides opportunities for children to talk together about spatial relations, size, quantity, symmetry, and shape as they plan and problem solve. Indoors, children can create their own paper snowman collages with art materials such as ribbons, pom-poms, stickers, yarn, and so on. Children can dictate a story about their finished snowmen, using math language to describe the number, location, and attributes of all the trimmings they selected.

Let us know how it is going! We would love to see photos or stories of these activities in your own classrooms. E-mail to cmeirick@erikson.edu.

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