The Snowy Day

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by Ezra Jack Keats. Picture Book. 40 pages. Grades PreK-1.
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Teacher's Guide

cover art

In this Caldecott Medal winner, a little African-American boy experiences the snow in the city spending the day outside playing. He slides down a snow bank in his red snow suit, makes tracks through the snow, makes snow angels, and knocks snow from a tree onto his head. Afraid the snow won't last, Peter tries to keep a snowball in his pocket until the next day.

The Snowy Day was the first full-color picture book to feature a black child and made a big splash in the world of children's books. The story is quite moving in it's depiction of the simple joys of new-fallen snow. There is a quietness about the book which evokes that sudden quiet that comes over a city right after a snowfall.

Keats fills the pages with simple, honest images and leads the viewer to imagine the spaces beyond the pages. Using paint and collage he creates a wintery city which is also warm with color and with Peter's playfulness.


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Things to Talk About and Notice

  • What is happening in this story? Have you ever played in snow?

  • What do you think happened to the snowball in his pocket?

  • What kind of area do you think Peter lives in? What clues does the book give you.

  • Look at the different scenes in the story and make some guesses about how you think Peter might be feeling.

  • Notice the way Keats' uses color to show different moods in the story.
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Activities

  • Following up on the discussion above about Keats using color to show changes in mood find other paintings or prints that show warmth, coolness, happiness and sadness through use of color.

  • This is a good book for practicing sequencing activities. Have students help you create cards telling what Peter did in words and a simple picture. Sort through the cards afterwards and try to recreate the sequence in the book. Use the arranged cards to retell the story together.

  • Walk in snow or sand. Watch your footprints. Measure them when you first make them and then an hour later.

  • Find as many ways to make snowflakes as possible: cut paper, stamps, potato prints, etc.

  • Find animal tracks in the snow. Decide whether or not Peter would be apt to see the same kind of tracks.

  • Make a snowball and keep it in the freezer. Take it out every so often and decide how it has changed.

  • Try making cut or torn paper collages of your own.

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Related Books

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    Grades PreK - 1
    Snowman by Raymond Briggs. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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    A snowman comes indoors and his boy-creator shows him the wonders of a modern home. After showing amazement and fascination, the snowman takes the boy to see the wonders of the snow world. This book uses a comic strip format.

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    Grades PreK - 3
    Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. Picture Book. 32 pages.
    Find this book: Local Bookstore, Amazon, B&N icon

    This picture book is truly extraordinary and while delightful for the preschool set can be used with older students right up through middle school as well. An African-American child and his look-on-the-bright-side grandmother take a bus from church to a soup kitchen. Along the way the grandmother helps him appreciate the unexpected beauty in the city. The tone is quite light and playful while the themes explored are profound. It is so well regarded that it won the prestigious Newbery Medal, one of only two picture books ever to have won it. Read More in our Featured Book Teachers Guide with discussion questions, extension activities, related books and links.

  • You can find more related books in our article on Winter listed below.

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