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Weekly Challenge # 17 – A Symphony of Sounds Created by Snow

January 13, 2014

A very large part of the continent I live on has had snow these past few weeks. It seems like every time I am listening to the news I’m hearing more and more about “ice storms” and “polar vortex”. And so, as I often tend to do, I turn off the television or radio and step outside to listen to what Nature has to tell me instead.

The sounds of winter and of snow in particular are as rejuvenating to my ears as the smell of the air after a summer thunderstorm is to my nose.

Ever notice that the colder it is the more the snow beneath your feet tends to creak, or crunch? As snow is made of ice crystals you are compacting the tiny grains of ices against one another when walking along. I do love the sometimes harsh crunching of the snow – just by that sound alone I know it’s cold outside. It will occasionally sound almost as if I am walking on Styrofoam when it gets cold enough.

But when it’s milder, the sounds beneath my feet become more muffled and soft. It seems almost as if the snow is swallowing any sound at all. On these days it is less about the snow beneath my feet and more about the spring calls of the Chickadee or caws of the crows.

Snow can also act as an insulator. Not only for warmth in a quinzee or igloo but also for sound. Here is an entertaining, engaging and educational activity to try with your students.

I will often bring my students outdoors and have them approach an untouched snow bank where the snow is at least a foot deep. I then have them all take their weather appropriate winter boots and make one footprint in the snow in front of them.

I then have the students kneel down. The footprint tends to be the perfect size for their face to fit into without fear of getting any snow on their exposed cheeks or nose.

Now when all the students are set up, kneeling in front of the newly made holes, I like to have the boys stick their faces into their snowy footprint and when all their heads are down – I have them scream as loud as they can. (and what kid doesn’t like to scream outdoors?). The girls with their heads up are typically surprised at how muffled the sound of the screams are beneath the snow.

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At this point, I switch the students, so that now the girls are like wintery ostriches with their heads in the snow and the boys can experience the same muffled shrieks of their classmates.

I will even have the entire class place their heads in the snow and scream – (I often joke with the teacher that this is excellent therapy).

So, your challenge this week is to have your students recognize and explore their own winter symphonies. What do the sounds of winter mean to your students – and how can you share that with the rest of us?

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