Those of you who live and teach in northern climes know what winter is all about. It’s not about the beauty of the fluffy white stuff or the bone-chilling temperatures or even the short sunlight hours each day. In a primary classroom, it is really all about the snow clothes. Assuming that the temperature is warm enough to actually go outside (in my school division the children go outside unless the temperature—including wind chill—is below -28C), the whole putting on/taking off all those snow clothes takes up a LOT of time. For some students, it is a ten-minute process. And when you consider that it has to be done first thing in the morning, before and after two recesses, at lunch time and again at the end of the day…well, you can see a lot of time needs to go into this every day.
A couple of years ago, in the midst of a cold streak and the endless tying of scarves, hunting for mittens and putting ski pants back inside right, I asked my students how fast they thought they could put on their snow clothes if it was a race. They made predictions and I decided to make a video to show them how fast they had been. For fun, we put a “how fast can you do it” at the end of the video and put it on our blog.
The very next day, we had our first response. Bill Genereaux from Kansas surprised us with a video of himself putting on his snow clothes. My students were enraptured, although suspicious that his clothes were not “real” snow clothes. Other classes of young children followed. More classes took up the challenge, including a university class who, as my students pointed out, did not have to wear ski pants and a group of teachers at a PD day. Each video was a highlight for my students as they watched their time bested, complained about how the other class had had an easier time for some reason (very competitive bunch that year) and compared the other classrooms to our own. Last year we again had lots of fun with this challenge.
This year I have a grade one/two split that includes 13 of my students from last year. Despite having already “done that”, my students unanimously voted to do it again.
Instead of just posting all of the challengers on our classroom blog, this year I have set up a Padlet so that classrooms or individuals can post their video for everyone to see. Also, in addition to our #snowclotheschallenge hashtag, we also have the French equivalent — #DéfiVêtementsHiver thanks to the enthusiastic Brigitte Léonard.
My initial goal in creating this was really to speed up the dressing process, but serendipitously, the result has been lots of fun and unanticipated learning.
Take up our challenge! Join us. We’d love to have individuals, groups or classrooms try to beat our time. It makes the tedium of snow clothes just a bit less onerous.