Critical Thinking in Frosty the Snowman
Starting with the story, not the singing.
- Do you know what jolly means? It says “jolly happy soul.” Can you use context clues to tell you what jolly means?
- Do you know what coal is? Have you heard people talk about coal in stockings? (if they don’t know), well, coal is…
- Fairytale they say? Do you know other fairytales? Are fairytales true? Mrs. Charlton our librarian has a whole section about stories that are made up? Do you know what word she uses for stories that aren’t true (mini fiction/nonfiction discussion)
- Can you spot differences that our illustrator showed us to show Frosty coming to life with the magic hat? (We compare and contrast here looking at both pictures).
- Why would Frosty hold his hand up against the sun. The sun is important and feels great. Why would he try to hide from it?
- What’s a village? How is it different/the same from the place we live? You know, I grew up in a village of about 350 people. Our school has about 500 kids (not counting teachers!) in it! Does that mean my village was small or big?
- Have you seen someone who acts like the traffic cop? Maybe a walker and now a bus-rider would be better at answering this question. Remember each day after school the person who stands in the crosswalk and helps you cross the street as you walk home? Do they look like the traffic cop in this picture?
- Thumpity thump thump. That’s the sound that something is making. What could be making that sound? Since frosty doesn’t have feet, how would he have to move?
- Could you imagine the sound that a jumping snowman would make? Would it sound like thumping?
Yes, this is a lot of stopping. Yes, this breaks up the song. Yes, it is painfully slow. But seriously, this has helped my kids internalize and understand so much better. You know all those inservices that we sit through that teach us about interactive read alouds? Well, those tactics are GREAT for English Language Learners and they help them develop critical thinking skills! I don’t always do all of those questions, but the idea is to get them thinking. Make them access that prior knowledge and scaffold in some new information.The first day we take the time to sift through all the words and new concepts and the second day we sing. But that first day is WORTH IT! Before we leave I teach the singing of the “thumpity thump thump” because it’s easy to learn quickly and because the kids need the chance to rest their brains and learn something fun. We add an action and sing that part a few times. The second day of this lesson we sing and work through the story again (often with the book to prompt their remembering of the words) and add more actions until we’ve worked through the whole song.
Compare and Contrast with a listening example
Another fun extension is to get them to listen to a different version of the song that they know (once they’ve done it a few times). I have them listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing a version of this song. They LOVE hearing this different version of the song and they also love getting context of a famous person singing something that they know! I teach the Ella version because that gives me a chance to introduce them to her. I have a big poster of Ella singing above my desk and these kids really connect to someone singing who looks more like them. I asked the other day, “Do you see that picture? Can you see if Ella is white? Is she Hispanic/from Mexico? Is she black?” And one little boy in the back of the room said excitedly, “Hey! She looks just like me!” My heart melted![su_spacer]Find a recording of Ella Singing “Frosty the Snowman” from her album “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas!”
Holiday songs are great for adding vocabulary with students. I mean, how many kids immediately understand what a “one horse open sleigh” is? Use critical thinking skills to figure out that it’s not four or five horses. It’s different from Santa’s sleigh because a different animal pulls that. It’s an open, not closed sleigh, so what does that mean for someone riding in it… and on and on. Little questions make a big difference.
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