Think about your favorite place to go. What is it like in the summertime? What is it like during winter?
Do you think it would be more fun to visit Yosemite National Park during the summer or the winter? Why?
In the article, the writer describes Yosemite National Park during winter as both magical and challenging. Based on what you read, why do you think both of those words are appropriate ways to describe this national park during the winter season?
According to the article, naturalist John Muir once wrote that Yosemite was "full of God's thoughts." What do you think he meant by this? Do you agree? Why or why not?
- Invite students to take a look out the window. Or, if your classroom doesn't have a window, instruct students to think about what it was like outside when they came to school this morning. Encourage volunteers to describe what they saw and felt.
- Based upon students' descriptions, summarize what winter is like where you live. Ask students if this winter so far is normal for your location. If not, is it milder than usual or more extreme? Why?
- Guide students to understand that two winters in one place can be very different. So can the same winter in two different places. Changes in climate and location can affect temperature, the amount and type of precipitation and even the time of year winter occurs.
- As a class, review the details about visiting Yosemite National Park at the end of the article. Have students conduct research to record similar information about winter in your area. Then have them choose one other place in the world and investigate winter conditions there.
- Once students have collected their data, give them time to create a display comparing and contrasting winter in these two places.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Use this lesson plan from the National Museum of the American Indian to teach students the oral culture and history-keeping of the Nakota people, who measured time from snowfall to snowfall with pictographic calendars called winter counts.
Use these pictures, compiled by the Smithsonian Learning Lab, as catalysts for a classroom writing activity. Students can analyze and interpret winter scenes or become inspired to write poetry about the winter season.
Many temples and monuments were intentionally built to face, frame or otherwise “welcome” the rising winter solstice sun. Read this Smithsonian article to learn all about them.
This reading guide from Smithsonian’s History Explorer will help engage young readers as they read "Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money." The book tells the story of two siblings who decide to spend an otherwise snowy winter’s day opening a lemonade stand. As students read, they will learn how to count change into dollars and cents while thinking about how people spend and earn money.
For most in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is a time for building snowmen, skiing and hoping for a snow day. If you prefer to stay inside, read this blog from the Smithsonian Science Education Center to investigate a few winter science questions.
When winter comes, most bugs either migrate or time travel. But some, like those featured in this Smithsonian magazine article, get far more creative.