The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats Preschool Lesson Plan

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats front cover, ISBN 9780670867332
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats front cover, ISBN 9780670867332
Also available in Spanish/English language version
Also available in Spanish/English language version
Author Ezra Jack Keats worked first as a graphic artist, then a comic book illustrator, then a children's book illustrator, and finally an author.
Author Ezra Jack Keats worked first as a graphic artist, then a comic book illustrator, then a children's book illustrator, and finally an author.

Thematic Elements

  • Snow
  • Winter
  • Play
  • Child's Day
  • Caldecott Award Winner
  • Dressing for the Weather
  • Multi Cultural

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, first published in 1962 by The Viking Press, has the simplicity of a Haiku poem. The story is of Peter, a boy who lives in an apartment in the city, and his adventures in the snow. The boy Peter is an appealing "every child" in this story, as the author leads us through Peter's journey of discovery while he plays. Peter crunches the snow with his feet, makes footprints and tracks through the snow, and drags a stick in snow. Peter is momentarily disappointed when the big boys don't include him in their snowball fight, and so instead he builds a snowman, makes snow angels, and slides down a snow mountain. Peter ends his full day of snow play by taking a warm bath and thinking of his adventures.

The Snowy Day is elegant in its simplicity. It will resonate with anyone who has ever played in the snow until they are frozen from head to toe. Peter in his pointy-hat snowsuit is adorable on every page, and young children will delight in his play. For those in hot climes, this snow story will make you yearn for what you're missing. And for those who have a bit too much snow, the story is a timeless reminder of why children love it so.

Author Ezra Jack Keats also illustrated this book. The illustrations of snow are simple and stylized, with Peter's bright red snowsuit in central focus. The warm colors used in the patterns and textures on Peter's pajamas, on his red wallpaper, and on his mother's dress create the feeling of a loving and nurturing home in contrast with the cool colors used to depict the scenes of crunching snow and swirling clouds. I wonder if the scenes depicting Peter in his red snowsuit with his faceless playmates were inspired by the author looking out the window of a city apartment building, only to spot a child just like Peter at play!

The Snowy Day won the prestigious Caldecott Award in 1963. The book is not only a fine story, but also featured the first African American main character to be depicted in a children's picture book. This ground-breaking book was followed by several others written by Keats, including A Whistle for Willie, Peter's Chair, A Letter To Amy, and Goggles.

The Snowy Day is also available in a dual-language version with both English and Spanish text, appropriate for language learners. This title is in the must-own children's classics category, and a strong recommend for reading and owning.

Peter wakes up to a snowy day.
Peter wakes up to a snowy day.

Preschool and Storytime Lesson Planning With This Book

Use The Snowy Day in a themed unit about winter, snow, the seasons, or play.

Music and Movement

For teachers of preschool and toddler-aged children, music is an important teaching tool. Music helps keep you on pace, keeps children's attention, and provides a structured outlet for the movement young children crave. Always try begin your story time or circle time with the same song and use a group of songs children can learn during a one-month period. Using the same songs simplifies your lesson preparation and helps children to actually learn the songs you are using. After repeated exposures, children are sure to join right in!

Music Picks

Two songs I recommend with this book are a verse from the song made popular by Barney the Dinosaur and a little tune called Once there Was a Snowman. Once there was a snowman is an action song. Pretend to stand "tall,tall, tall" and as the snowman shrinks in the sun, bend your knees and melt into the ground.

Here are the relevant words to the Barney song:

If All the Snowflakes were candy bars and milkshakes, Oh what a snow that would be! I'd stand outside with my mouth open wide (ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah) Oh what a snow that would be

Movement Ideas

Children love to follow the leader in a story that requires them to do the actions with you. So create your own action story based on the things that Peter does in the story The Snowy Day. You can use the following as a guideline or adapt to make your own Snowy Day action story.

Take a walk in the snow, a guided movement activity for The Snowy Day book

  • It's time to wake up! (Yawn and stretch and rub your eyes)
  • Ohhh, snow! (Raise your arms in the air in big surprise)
  • Time to get our coat and hat (Pretend to put on your coat, followed by your hat)
  • Ooops! Don't forget your gloves! (Pretend to put on gloves)
  • Ooh it's cold! Let's stomp our feet in the snow (stomp, stomp, stomp)
  • I can take my stick and make a line in the snow (drag your pretend stick on the ground)
  • Time to make snowballs! (Pretend to scoop some snow from the ground and make the snowball in your hands.)
  • Wow it tastes cold (Stick out your tongue and taste your snowball.)
  • I hear Mom calling! (Put your hand to your ear)
  • Time to go inside and have a nice warm cup of chocolate! (Pretend to run to the door, and take a pretend glass.)
  • That was delicious! Mmm good! (pat or rub your tummy and shake your head up and down).

Activities and Explorations

  • Weather permitting, put on your coats and gloves, and play in the snow! Build a snowman, make a snow angel, and crunch the snow with your boots. Have fun!
  • Art exploration. Ezra Jack Keats loved to paint as a child. Give children black or dark blue paper and white tempera paint, and suggest they paint something that they liked about the book The Snowy Day

Other Books by Ezra Jack Keats

Keats authored or illustrated over 85 books for children during his lifetime. He passed away in 1983.

My Dog Is Lost The first picture book Keats authored and illustrated, this book follows the journey of young Juanito as he searches through different parts of New York City.

A Whistle for Willie In this story young Peter trying to learn to whistle for his dog Willie. This book is part of Richard and Linda Eyre's Joy School Curriculum.

Peter's Chair When Peter's baby sister is about to arrive, everything that used to belong to him is suddenly pink! But Peter tries to rescue his chair as he adapts to the change of a new sibling.

The Pet Show Archie decides to enroll the nearby cat into his neighborhood pet show, but can't find the cat anywhere!

A Letter to Amy Peter writes a letter to Amy about his birthday party, but the wind blows it away.

More Children's Book Links

Looking for more great children's book recommendations? Here are links to some of my favorites, some with recommended supplemental activities. Please remember to rate the article up if you like what you read.

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett · A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams · Babies by Gyo Fujikawa · Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin and Eric Carle · Charley Harper's ABCs by Charlie Harper · Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons · Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes · Daughter of a King by Rachel Ann Nunes · Excuse Me! By Lisa Kopelke · Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat · Harry and The Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach · Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson · I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll · I'd Choose You by John Trent · Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback · King of Kings by Susan Hill · Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman · Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes · Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney · Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney · Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle · No David! by David Shannon · Olivia by Ian Falconer · Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier · Snowballs by Lois Ehlert · So Much by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury · Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch · The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone · The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle · The King With Six Friends by Jay Williams · The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman · The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges · The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell · The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy · The Red Shoes a Fairy Tale by Gloria Fowler and Sun Young Yoo · The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats · Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel · Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White · Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak · Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits

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Comments 2 comments

Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 4 years ago

Hi Western ~ This one story has a lot of memories for me as a young college student studying to be an elementary school teacher. The teacher marked Ezra Jack Keats award winning book as a milestone in children's literature and illustration. Thanks for highlighting this book for the new generation. Blessings, Debby


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 4 years ago from The Land of Tractors Author

Thanks Debby. If I remember correctly, this was one of the first children's books I reviewed on hubpages, if not THE first, because I feel the same way you do about it. It is also just a lovely story. Best!

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