Engineering with The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Engineering with The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

I can design and build a prototype to protect the snow/ice from melting.

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Engineering with The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

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In this lesson, students will read the book, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and do an activity to help the main character with his problem.

This lesson is designed to be about 60-75 minutes. However, if discussions take longer, be aware the building period needs to be 15 minutes, plus time improving, testing, and sharing designs.



Learning objective

Students will be able to design and build a prototype to protect the snow/ice from melting.


Students will share whether they have read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats before.


They will read or watch The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. After reading, students will talk about the book, including the setting, main characters, and problems.

Explain the engineering process to your students using the lesson.


Students will work in groups to help Peter solve his problem by using the engineering design process. They will discuss what Peter's problem was and possible solutions. Talk to students about how to keep objects cool on a hot day. Next, students will plan a design by drawing. Using their plan, each group will build and test their design. Then, they will improve their designs.


Students will respond to ten true/false and fill-in-the-blank questions.


Students will turn and talk about what they learned from engineering a solution for Peter.

Bonus challenge: Using the engineering design process, think of a solution for preventing a glass of water from freezing in cold weather.

Teaching tips

Make sure to gather materials ahead of time and have enough for the number of teams there will be.
Tip: Prearrange teams ahead of time.

Instruction materials

Per team:
• piece of styrofoam or bubble wrap (about 1' x 1')
• 1 roll of masking tape (cut into 1 meter of tape for each group)
• 1' x 1' of aluminum foil
• 6" x 6" piece of fabric (felt is the preferred)
• 1 medium-sized plastic cup
• 2 full sheets of 8 x 11.5 paper (1 for planning, 1 for building)
• 2 scissors

EXTRA SUPPLIES FOR IMPROVEMENTS: extra bubble wrap, tape, foil
Measurements do not need to be exact.

For testing:
• 1 heat lamp plugged into a stand
• Use ice cubes (enough for the number of teams). If there is snow outside, the students can make small snowballs and put them in the design before testing.
Tip: keep ice cubes frozen in a cooler, YETI cup, or freezer.

Preparation needed

Prior to students arriving, cut tape into strips for each time. A suggestion would be to set up the materials and put them in a bag or pile on the table so they are organized. Ideally, there should be two students on each team, differentiated by cooperative skills and needs.

There needs to be a place to hang or prop the heat lamp up (if testing inside). Otherwise, if you are bringing the designs outside, have a plan of where you will be testing outside.


After watching the video of the story or reading the book aloud (SLIDE 5), discuss the book with the class. Introduce Engineering Design Process.

BEFORE BUILDING: Make sure students DRAW (and try to label) their plan.

• Students must use only the time allotted.
• Students should NEVER touch heat lamp when testing.
• Students may only use the materials provided - conserve materials for testing.

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