While schools, libraries and local recreation centers may be closed during inclement weather, we hope families will take advantage of this time together to try some alternative learning activities.
We have developed this award-winning "APS Snow Learning Page" to help you "weather" time at home. Here are just some of the suggestions gathered from Arlington parents during last year's historic snowstorm, to help your children continue to learn and explore from home.
Your neighbors may need your help! Arlington County is working with civic associations and other community groups to promote neighborhood sidewalk snow clearing efforts. Register through Volunteer Arlington or contact your civic association directly.
Family Activities for Learning During a Storm
Begin a snow journal. Take pictures (or draw pictures) of the front and back of your home, as well as your surrounding neighborhood. Include comments about the changes before, during and after the storm.
Bring the outdoors in by shoveling snow into a large plastic tub and then using watercolors to paint it. Experiment with mixing colors to create new ones.
Decide how you would describe to someone in Uganda (look it up to know the weather there) what snow is like, what a blizzard is, how to use a sled, etc.
Find the hottest and coldest city in US every day - what's the difference in temperature between that location and here?
Duplicate an experiment done by Benjamin Franklin 250 years ago -- lay out a series of fabric squares in several different colors about 8 inches apart on the surface of the snow once the sun comes back out. See if the snow underneath the different colors all melts at the same rate, or some colors cause the snow to melt faster (or slower). Measure with a ruler after 20 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour and record how far down the fabric has melted into the snow. Record your measurements.
Snow Brand X: See if the snow in the back yard tastes better than the snow in the front yard with a blind taste test. Put 3 samples of each in labeled cups and taste each one with a blindfold on, then record the results. Talk about the independent and dependent variables, the constants, and hypotheses and conclusions.
"Snow Ice Cream":
- Fill a bowl with fresh, untouched snow
- Add 2 cups of milk, 1 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp of Vanilla.
- Try adding chocolate syrup, maple syrup, strawberry jam, etc. for new flavors.
Name the mountains of snow in your yard or on the street. Make up names or name them after famous mountains. Describe the icicles hanging from your roof. Of what creatures do the icicles remind you? How do they change? Write a cold icicle poem.
Take digital photos of your snowy backyard and then print out a page for each child. Have each kid draw people (themselves and friends) playing in the snow, and then have them write a story to go with the picture.
Look at snowflakes under a microscope or with a magnifying glass and watch how they change as they melt. Then take a look at other things like the carpet, sister's hair, a pillow, salt and sugar.
Calculate the weight of the snow you have shoveled! Compute the area of the space shoveled, guess how many inches of snow fell, then compute the volume. Use the internet to find out how much a cubic foot of snow might weigh, then "do the math.”
Have a spelling contest by pulling words from a variety of books at home. Select a word, then read the paragraph in which it was found. For those words that need more practice, have your kid(s) write out the correct spelling three times each. Then let your kids test you!
Make your own mail boxes out of an old box and some paper. You and your kids can write letters and deliver them to each other throughout the day. They love checking to see if they have mail, plus they're having fun writing silly notes and drawing pictures for each other.
Start a story with a sentence like "There was an old rundown house at the end of the long dirt road." Then each person in the family takes a turn adding a sentence to the story; keep going around the table many times, until you run out of ideas or the story comes to a natural conclusion. If kids are young, one parent can act as the scribe, if not, you can pass the pencil around and everyone can write their own sentence. Read it out loud when you are done.
Family baking and cooking projects are excellent opportunities for students to practice reading and following directions, weights and measurements. Plus everyone can enjoy the results.
Card games, board games, video and electronic games, charades - all of these provide great opportunities for strategic thinking and communications while indoors where it's (hopefully) warm.
Great Resources Online for Parents:
If power stays on, the Web has a wealth of information for families and students. Here are just a few links available for families:
Many of the APS Instructional Department pages include links to resources for parents and students. For example:
MATHEMATICS: includes Math Resources for parents and students. For secondary students, last year's Summer Math Review activities are also available online. Activities are listed by grade or subject.
SCIENCE: The APS page includes links to many science-related sites including National Geographic, science bulletins from the American Museum of Natural History and other resources.
APS Classroom Work & Other Learning Resources:
Via the APS Web site, Blackboard has all ACORN (Arlington County Library) resources available via the “Library Online” tab. Some teachers are posting additional activities for their students, and the "For Students" tab has resources for students organized by elementary and secondary levels, including practice activities, copies of many textbooks and other related curriculum Web links
Students are reminded to continue to read and review materials and assignments provided or referenced by their teachers in their course materials. Some of these materials are in print form and others are available online through teacher-created Web pages, Blackboard sites, and/or school Web pages. Students may wish to practice their skills by reviewing the SOL-released items tests from the Virginia Department of Education where they can practice and then check their answers using the answer keys included in the released tests available online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/released_tests/index.shtml.
Finally, all students are encouraged to continue with reading and writing. Keeping a journal is an excellent way for students to continue developing their writing skills, and enjoy sharing their writing and receiving feedback.
Parents are Great Teachers, Too:
Parents are a great source of creative ideas. Let us know what you're doing to help your children learn and enjoy their time at home.