2010-02-10

How does snow work?

Miss Zahra over at Trees and Branches, Trunks and Roots 
posted children's theories about rain and puddles. Today I had the chance to talk to some children about how snow works.   We began talking about snow during early drop-off time. Greta drew this cloud -rain is on the side, and snow is bulging at the bottom.       These theories show how children work with ideas, taking bits of serious thought, bits of whimsy and beloved motifs, and bits of 'what people have told me', and mixing it together into a changing 'under construction' version of how things  are.                                                                                                                                                             Owen drew a couple of versions of "a 'chine that makes snow" way up "at the clouds". His pictures have a rocket that can deliver the snow, but his theory really revolves around the machine that is really big, and seems to have a pipe that delivers snow to clouds and rocket. "It falls down, down down, down. Look how long the big piece of snow is." Owen drew himself and his sisters down below the 2 lines of snow, one from the 'chine, and one from the rocket.
 

Greta loves stories and drew a big cloud with snow inside. "This is how it comes out; -creeesshh! Fireworks comes out, and then the kitty starts running and jumps high, and then he scratches with his paw and then that's how my snow gets down." (The kitty scratches the cloud and breaks it open, and the snow falls.)

Bella emphasized the idea of individual snowflakes, referring to "dots" many times. She must have thought a lot about the difference between how snow is in the air vs. the big piles of snow blanketing the ground. She was not as interested in where the dots came from as I was. "First, it starts in a little circle. Hey! Snow just falls outta, this is a snow cloud. This is the snow; dot, dot, dot. Just the little dots that come down over the sky. Then, it comes down from the sky. You have to put little dots. We got LOTS of snow, and -I can draw a hill. Here is a hill of snow."

                                                                           Toshi (4) changed his theory as he drew and 
 talked about it. He drew on a series of strips of paper, which show the sky, the rain or snow falling, and the ground. He started with "It's rain before it goes down. Yeah, that's what it does, in Christmas days it snows, and then it starts snowing somewhere else. 
The rain just gets frozen. It gets frozen when it lands. (So, it freezes when it lands on the ground?)
"No, not when it lands. It turns into snow a different day. ...Actually, rain does not turn into snow. Snow just lands."

(So, that means, it's already snow when its falling?) "Yeah, it's up in the clouds and it falls. Did you know that clouds are actually snow? A cloud is a snow cloud."


This type of discussion gives me a chance to practice asking good questions, ones that lead thinking forward rather than stopping it or distracting children. It gives the children a chance to practice mentally working through a problem, representing an idea so others can understand it, and  to test their theory against the theories of others.

1 comment:

  1. As I sit snowed in, I picture a powerful snow machine, a massive snow cloud, and that darn kitty that keeps pawing all those flakes down on us in the DC metro area!

    I never cease to be interested in and challenged by developing childrens theories.

    Thanks!

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