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Book Review of Footprints in the Snow by Cynthia Benjamin with Lesson Plan Ideas
Part of the Hello Reader series by Scholastic Footprints in the Snow is a level one reader good for preschoolers to first graders. Cynthia Benjamin tells a simple story of animals returning home for the winter. The story is accompanied by beautifully detailed illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers. The pictures show each animals home in winter muted colors.
The story is thirty pages long. However, it contains a simple repetitive vocabulary perfect for the beginning reader. The words of the story always appear on the bottom of the page and are usually only one to three words long.
Many of the vocabulary words deal with locomotion, and this story would easily lend itself to a unit on locomotion. How do other animals, besides those featured in the story, get about? Can an animal get about in more than one way? For example: can a fox swim as well as race?
Because of all the animals featured this book lends itself to a number of scientific lessons.
Several of the animals mentioned in the story are not active during the winter months. Thus you could introduce the children to a simplified version of hibernation.
Then provide the children with pictures of the animals and have them sort them into hibernating and non hibernating animals. (If you are unfamiliar bears, squirrels and mice all practice a type of hibernation.)
Another option is to introduce the children to the idea of sorting animals by what they eat. The story includes herbivores, omnivores and carnivores.
Herbivores (animals that eat vegetables and plant life):
Omnivores (animals that eat plant and animal life):
Carnivores (animals that eat animal life):
Because each animal is show returning to its home, this book would be an ideal way to introduce children to different animal habitats.
Both rabbits and mice dig burrows. Bears and owls find burrows rather than construct them. Beavers build lodges. Foxes live in dens. A squirrel's nest is a drey. And deer do not have a permanent home, but rather migrate throughout the year.
One final science lesson you might consider, is a discussion of the season or weather. The story takes place during the winter months, and there is snow on the ground in all the pictures.
This book could spark a discussion about the changing of the seasons. Or if your child already has a firm grasp of the different season you could go into more detail about winter, the changes in weather or even a simplified discussion of how the sun is further from our side of the planet during the winter months.
The story will also lend itself to a simple mathematics lesson. Each section of the story is about one animal returning to its family. This can give rise to a simple addition lesson.
One rabbit returns to two rabbits for a total of three rabbits.
One deer returns to three deer for a total of four deer.
One bear returns to zero bears for a total of one bear.
One beaver returns to two beaver for a total of three beaver.
One fox returns to four foxes for a total of five foxes.
One owl returns to zero owls for a total of one owl.
One squirrel returns to two squirrels for a total of three squirrels.
One mouse returns to two mice for a total of three mice.
It would introduce the children to the idea of word problems as well as simple addition. The number never goes above five and is most often 1 plus 2.
Even if you only use the book as a story it is still a fun book for young children. It is not overly wordy and full of delightful pictures.
If you do use the book as a storybook, take the time to stop and discuss the pictures with your child. They are richly detailed and provide plenty of fodder for discussion.
If you have an active child you might even consider having your child act out the different actions in the book. My daughter loves to hop like the bunny rabbit. Or, if you'd like to read a series of books, having the children act out the different actions of the animals will burn off some of their energy. Then they are more likely to sit quietly for the rest of the stories.
Whatever your choices, enjoy your story time with your child.