Winter is here, and where I'm writing this from (Syracuse University) there is plenty of snow and cold to go around. While some animals sleep the winter away in hibernation, others thrive in the snow and cold. One of the coolest winter words is "subnivian," which refers to the space under the surface of the snow. Animals such as rodents can move about safely in tunnels here, shielded from predators.
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner (illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal) covers the concept of subnivian environments, and the combination of basic prose and illustrations as a father and daughter cross-country ski through the forest opens this world up to young readers. Ample back matter provides plenty of information for adults to discuss how animals interact with their ecosystem in winter.
The active learning strategy suggested for this pairing works well in a large room, or if you're lucky enough to have deep snow, you can try it outdoors! Adapted from an activity sourced from the Canadian Wildlife Federation (who know a thing or two about cold and snow), this activity involves students playing the role of predator and prey above and below the snow, with the rest of the group rippling a parachute to simulate snow cover. I've tried this game with children between 3-12 years old, and it is always a hit! Of course, it may not compare to the winter fun these otters are having. See you next time. Don't forget to give us a shout if you check out these books or try the activity. We'd love to know how it goes!
Dr. Arnone is a proponent of libraries helping to serve their communities with programming about their local environments. She has taught "Environmental Programming with Libraries" and "Literacy, Inquiry and Nature for Libraries" at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies. She is a certified environmental educator in the state of North Carolina.