Carolyn writes about children's literature for library, preschool, or homeschool settings. She has a BA in English Literature.
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert: Collage Art Whimsy
There are children's books, and there are PICTURE books. The colorful and whimsical collage art of artist/author Lois Ehlert makes this children's picture book a fun and engaging read for even very young ages.
With its large pictures and double-page spreads, this is a perfect read-aloud story for large groups of young children. The visual elements will keep your audience's attention.
Snowballs is a simple story depicting what one person does to fill their landscape with snow people—a snow dad, mom, boy, girl, baby, family cat, and even "our dog Spot." And when the snow melts . . . well, that's just part of the story.
Ehlert's illustrations combine the whimsical rainbow colors of objects from countries all over the world into fun and fascinating figures with textured papers and paper shapes. The term "visual feast" is perhaps a trite bit overused when it comes to children's books, but the term applies here.
Using "Good Stuff Saved In a Sack," Lois Ehlert makes collages from unexpected multicultural items from Central America. A Mexican broom forms the hair for snow girl, while colorful striped Guatemalan belts give snow mom's hair an almost dreadlock effect. You will enjoy discovering all of the materials and the unique ways Ehlert combines them to form pictures that evoke the hushed, tranquil skies of a snow day.
Sit with your toddler or preschooler and enjoy this book at face value, then go back and search for objects through the pages! This fun snow day book will make you long for a perfect snow day so you can build your own snow menagerie.
Preschool Lesson Plan
The following lesson ideas mainly focus on a snowman-themed lesson.
Snowman Themed Music and Action Rhymes
I'm a Little Snowman is sung to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot"
I’m a little snowman, short and fat,
Here’s my scarf!
And here’s my hat!
When I see the snowflakes, hear me shout!
All you children, please come out!
You can also do this as an action rhyme:
I am a Little Snowman
I am a little snowman
Short and fat (Stand with arms in circle above stomach)
Here’s my broomstick (Make the broomstick with hands)
Here’s my hat (Hands above head)
When the sun comes out (Make sun with hands in circle above head)
I melt away (Bend slowly down to floor)
Down, down, down, down
Oops, I’m a puddle!
The song "Once There Was a Snowman" is a short, easy-to-learn action song.
Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman,
Once there was a snowman tall, tall, tall. (Move hands, stretch them high)
In the sun he melted, melted, melted,
In the sun he melted small, small, small. (Bend your knees and "melt" to the floor)
Preschool Movement Activity: Build a Snowman
Action activities like this help children to get out their wiggles in between stories. It also builds their focus and ability to follow directions. Make it fun and adapt to your group's needs.
Tell the children they are going to build a pretend snowman with you:
- Say: It's cold outside "brrr!" (Pretend to shiver, hug yourself)
- Say: Let's put on our coats! (Pretend to put on coat)
- Say: Let's put on our hats! (Pretend to put on hats)
- Say: Let's put on our mittens! (Pretend to put on mittens)
- Say: Oops! We forgot to put on our boots! Take off your mittens! (Pretend to take off your mittens)
- Say: Now, let's put on our boots! And mittens (pretend to put on your boots, then mittens)
- Let's open the door and go outside. (Pretend to open door)
- Time to walk through the snow. Ooh, it's really deep! Lift your feet high (Walk in place)
- Let's make our snowman! (Pretend to make a snowball, roll it around. Repeat). Time to stack the snowballs! (Pretend to stack snowballs)
- Our snowman needs a hat! (Take off your pretend hat and put it on pretend snowman)
- Whew, that was hard work! Good job making your snowman!
Fingerplays, short poems, and short rhymes make great transitional activities in a library storytime setting. One of the key factors to your success as a story presenter is to keep your young audience fully engaged at all times. I am personally a big fan of using props and storyboards or fingerplays.
Bag of Great Things Flannelboard
Bring a paper bag containing "great things." Ask kids how they would use the great things in the bag to build a snowman. Take the items out one at a time. You could add the "great things" to a flannelboard story using simple round felt pieces cut to make a snowman.
Build a Styrofoam Snowman
Make your snowman a 3D sculpture using styrofoam balls. Use quilting pins to attach found objects made from felt or other easy-to-attach items, such as small twigs, could be attached by poking directly into the styrofoam. Get creative and encourage participation from the audience as your group and situation allow.
Snowman Art and Craft Ideas
Here are some snowman-themed craft ideas. Help children explore new art materials, and don't focus on the end project too much.
Bag of Great Things Take Home Craft
Create a bag of great things to create a three-dimensional collage. Attach the great things to 3 circles and affix them to a dark background. Collect found objects in lunch bags and combine them with die-cut images.
Some items you could include in the bag:
- Craft flowers
- Acorns or tree nuts
- Fall leaves
- Cotton balls
- Magazine pictures
(Appropriate for older preschoolers.) Have children cut out shapes from pictures in magazines to form their own "favorite things" collage. To make this activity more appropriate for toddlers, use pre-cut, torn, or die-cut shapes in the collages. Young toddlers don't have the scissor skills required to cut complicated shapes.
Paint and Salt Snow Pictures
Achieve a glistening snowman picture by painting a small sheet of dark blue construction paper with white tempera paint. Cut the sheet in half so that it will fit into reusable plastic trays (like the trays that store deli meats that you might find at the grocery store).
Use large round-tipped sponge brushes in a few different sizes to create the snowmen by dabbing the paper with the round tip of the sponge. Then, using salt in large salt shakers, shake the salt onto the drying paint.
It is helpful to let these pictures dry overnight before taking them home. Decorate the snowmen with buttons and other found objects.
Purchased playdough can be a lifesaver for busy storytime presenters who want to add a craft component without incurring the mess or cost of more complicated crafts. White playdough can also be made at home. I am not a big fan of coloring a picture after storytime, week after week, but I think it can be okay if it is all your time and resources allow.
Playdough is also a relatively "green" choice because it can be reused over and over if stored properly and won't be thrown away by parents as soon as they get their children home.
There are a plethora of snowman coloring sheets on the internet. If you don't like these, just do a Google search!
Paper Tube Snow
This is an easy, inexpensive craft if you have a large group, are short on time, or have limited crafting resources. This green craft can find a use for some of those toilet paper and paper towel tubes.
The Jacket I Wear In the Snow by Shirley Neitzel and Nancy Winslow Parker, is a book about snow play and dressing for the weather.
The First Day of Winter, written and illustrated by Denise Fleming. This colorful celebration of winter, nature, and animals culminates with the building of a delightful snowman. Themes of creating from nature jive with message of Snowballs, and is a visual feast. Check out the author's website for printables that would be suitable for kindergarten through second grade.
The Snowy Day is a winter classic by Ezra Jack Keats that depicts a young boy playing in the snow. This imaginative story realistically portrays the magic of playing in the snow and experiencing the textures and sights of cold winter play. You can't go wrong with this story.
- Preschool Lesson Plan for Ezra Jack Keats's The Snow...
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a children's picture book about playing in the snow. You'll find recommendations for snow-themed songs, take a walk in the snow movement activity, and additional children's picture books to read.
- Children's Picture Books for December Storytime Them...
These themes and book selections will make your December story hour planning a snap! Themes include snowmen, mittens, playing in the snow, and gingerbread.
© 2008 Carolyn Augustine
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on February 27, 2012:
Thank you very much. That is such a lovely compliment. That thought crossed my mind several years ago, but alas, like all good ideas, it has been done (many times).
Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on February 26, 2012:
Great Ideas to go along with your book review...have you though of putting this all together in one book for teachers...or childcare workers?...this was great!
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on February 07, 2012:
Thanks Janinamarie, I love the artwork in this book. Lois Ehlert is a totally original illustrator and her style is full of humor. Have fun making your snowpeople with your daughter!
JANINAMARIE from New York on January 22, 2012:
This book has the most adorable picture on it...that's what grabbed my attention and made me read this hub! I always love drawing snowmen and snowpeople with my daughter...they're just so much fun to draw...and making them out of white Model Magic is always fun, too! Yea for snowmen books and crafts!
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on January 15, 2010:
Thanks bonny2010, I wish I could have been there to see the snow melt and turn red!
bonetta hartig from outback queensland on January 15, 2010:
hey again, thanks for your reply.In answer to your question, they transported it their by chopper inbig vats,spreadit over one of the slopes and tried skiing down, unfortunately it did not last long and the white gelatine like crystals began to turn to red. It was an expensive trial and a major flop,but the film crew reporting on it and we local journos had a ball...cheers.
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on January 14, 2010:
Thanks bonny2010, that sounds like a fun experience. How did they get the artificial snow up there I wonder? Thank YOU for your kind and encouraging comment. I've lived in snowy places before, but here in Arizona it is also too warm in the winter to experience real fluffy white snow. We love to read about snow here in the wintertime even though many of us don't even own a heavy coat. I enjoy reviewing books and children's literature is my biggest passion. This particular book is a lot of fun. I'm sending you my best!
bonetta hartig from outback queensland on January 14, 2010:
enjoy your reviews. I made a snow man once, out of artificial snow on Ayres Rock in the Northern Terriory back in the80s. But a real snowman I would love to make, until then I think I will buy the book and entertain myself with that. Your reviews are refreshing and encouraging...thank you.