Literature Unit Ideas for The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This post is part of the 31 Days of Literature Unit Ideas series. You can find links to all the books in the series here. And if you’d like a printable list of ideas for using this book, make sure you pick up my free book- The Ultimate Book of Unit Studies for Literature Lovers-at the end of this post.

Today’s book is one of my favorites to read with young children. There are some fun things you can do reading The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. This book is good for very young readers- toddlers and up. There’s even a board book version, so little ones can hold it and look at the pictures.

Literature unit study for The Snowy Day

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About the book:

The Snowy Day is a gentle book with few words and great pictures that can help little ones share in the anticipation and enjoyment of the season’s first snow. Peter lives in a big city and wakes excitedly to the first snow of the season. He dresses in his red snow suit and heads outside to play.
His adventures in the snow included watching big kids have a snowball fight and getting knocked down as well as climbing and sliding down snowy hills. At the end of his time outside, Peter packs a snowball and puts it in his pocket to keep. He goes to sleep and dreams that the sun comes out and melts all the snow. But when he awakes, it has snowed again.
The book has so many great elements of common childhood experiences that even young children will related. And there are so many things you can talk about to children as you share the book.

Things to talk about:

Because this book can be read even to very young children, your topics of conversation will, of course, vary depending upon the age of the child or children you’re reading to. This book is in our family library, and it has always been interesting to pull it out again at different stages and see what the kids observe about it. Very little ones will just be drawn to the colorful, appealing illustrations in the book. Preschoolers will begin to related to Peter’s adventures. He is about four years old. Older children will still enjoy the book because of the cute story and great pictures.
  • Talk about Peter’s excitement at the new snow fall. Have you ever been excited to see snow for the first time of the year? (Or if you’re a Southerner like me who rarely sees snow, ask kids what they have been excited to wait for.)
  • Why do you think Peter stops when he sees the big kids playing with snowballs? How does he act when he gets hit?
  • Do you think it was a good idea for Peter to bring his snowball inside in his pocket? Why or why not?
  • How did Peter feel when he woke up and saw there was still snow? How do you think he would have felt if his dream was true?
There are many things in the story that make it great for discussing feelings.

Learning/Hands-on activities:

  • Talk about/look at pictures of seasons. Ask children what season they think is the setting of The Snowy Day. Why would you choose that season? (This is a good activity for learning to draw inferences. They can site the snow and the cold as obvious reasons that it is winter.)
  • Ask children to describe their favorite season and draw a picture of it.
  • This video is a reading of the story showing the original book illustrations.
  • If you have children who are at least kindergarten age, you can watch this video to learn what make it snow.
  • Even if you read this book in the summer, you can make your own indoor snowmen with this “snow.”
  • You can even make edible rice krispie snowmen like the ones on this page. (There are some other cute snow ideas here as well.)
  • If you’re reading with older kids, these borax snowflakes are a fun science experiment.
  • Print this snowman on cardstock and laminate to make a fun lacing card.
  • Practice counting with snowmen. Print off this snowman template. Decorate the face and clothing but leave off buttons.Give your child some chocolate chips or raisins. Tell them a number of “buttons” to put on their snowman.
Literature unit study for The Snowy Day

Other resources:

More reading:

If you’d like to use The Snowy Day as a literature unit study, pick up The Ultimate Book of Unit Studies for Literature Lovers here. You’ll find 45 great unit studies- including this one, as well as a unit study planner and other unit study resources. It’s all free when you subscribe here.

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