The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats


The Magic of Winter!?!


Living in the centre of Canada, though not the northernmost part of Canada,  a larger than usual portion of our year is spent adapting daily life to (extreme) winter weather conditions.    Our children are very familiar with the excitement of the first snow, and the inevitable winter blues that affect us after months and weeks and hours of snow.  Extremely low temperatures often visit between snowfalls – cold enough that children are not allowed to go outside for recess.    As this is part of our geographical landscape the number of school days children miss because of weather is surprisingly limited.   Instead, allowances are made for those travelling long distances and for those in rural areas, and recess is adapted to the weather conditions whether than means only 10 minutes outside or recess in the gym.

Parents, teachers, and children agree that sometimes winter seems to be endless!  Oh, how we yearn for the days of not wearing boots, coats, hats, mitts, and layers upon layers of clothing!  (Can you sense the mid-January exasperation?)

Ezra Jack Keats’ book,The Snowy Day is the perfect book for reminding us of the fun we can have exploring in the snow, by ourselves and with a friend.   Simple activities, like going for a walk, become an adventure!   Walking in the snow we can see our footprints, we experience the ‘crunch, crunch, crunch’ sounds beneath our feet, and the feeling of sinking into the deep banks of snow (the best mode of travel in lieu of cleared sidewalks).

Keats’ captures the wonder of  witnessing the sparkling snowflakes falling, giving our landscape a magical lightness.   And those first moments waking  up after a snowstorm/blizzard, looking out into the neighbourhood that has magically been transformed into a sparkling, white, crystallized wonderland.

Taking this book into the studio, creative movement (3-5 yr olds) lessons can include exploring different pathways on the ground, the shapes and sparkle of snowflakes, tip toeing through the snow attempting to make the smallest footprints possible, and tunnelling through the huge piles of snow.     For 6-7 yr olds (pre-ballet) we can explore our footprints in the snow — turning our feet out and in (external and internal rotation), high tip toes with turnout, and long runs (for the boys) that take us soaring low across the snow.

The final page of the book seems to sum up a child’s early experience of our winters…little wee persons surrounded by HUGE piles of snow!

Everyday is truly and adventure.

Simply magical.

Author:  Jacqui Davidson