The Snow Day Art Challenge

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We all know that snowy winter morning feeling. You are nestled in bed under your warm comforter, wearing your pajamas inside out and backward, crossing all your fingers, waiting to hear those two special words on the radio: SNOW DAY! This winter is predicted to be an especially cold and snowy one, so I am planning to introduce two new words into the snow day equation: “art advocacy.” And you should too!

Wait . . . art advocacy, when we don’t even have school?

Ultimately, we are hoping to foster a lifelong love of art in our students. We want them to be patrons of the arts and people who create things outside of school for personal or professional reasons. On snow days, kids are literally a captive audience. They are stuck at home with nothing to do, and they are bored to an epic level by about 9:30 a.m. This affords us a unique opportunity to help them transition from makers at school to makers in their own homes.

I can hear you all saying, “Oh, no…I’m not working on MY snow day!” I understand. A snow day is a teacher’s dream, too. We all relish an unexpected day to lounge, watch Netflix, and recharge our batteries for the rest of the winter! This is why frontloading all the work on this task is so essential. If you get organized, you can still sleep in.

Getting the word out NOW

The Farmer’s Almanac and our local meteorologist are both predicting snow and super low temps, but not for at least a month. That isn’t stopping me from promoting my snow day plan NOW. It’s important that my kids know what the plan is, and how to participate well BEFORE the snow day actually occurs. That way, after the initial shock and awe of an actual day off school sets in as many kids as possible will know how to access the “Snow Day Art Challenge” information.

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Here are a few ways I’m promoting my “Snow Day Art Challenge.”

  • A “Snow Day Art Challenge” bulletin board in the hallway by the art room.
  • Mentioning it to each art class while we are working.
  • Asking my administrators to include a blurb in the school newsletter.
  • The pièce de résistance would be adding it to the automated robo-dial all families receive on the actual snow day, but I might be getting a little ahead of myself!

All of these promotional methods communicate the same message to my kids. “There is an exciting and mysterious challenge. There will be prizes. You can only find out more if you go to one of our social media platforms (website, Youtube channel, or Facebook page) at 9am on the morning of the snow day.” If your classroom doesn’t use this type of tech, you can always go “old school” with a paper flyer!

Providing the art task

So, what will they find when they visit my site/channel/page at 9am on that morning? They will see a video message and a printable “menu” of art challenge options. Creating both of these items ahead of time enables me to simply upload them the morning of the snow day and go back to bed.

The video message will greet them, explain the menu, and wish them luck. I plan to really ham it up in a parka, earmuffs, and far too many scarves. The menu itself will offer six different art challenge choices. Having choice enables students of various ages, ability levels, and interests to find something they would consider doing on their day off. Additionally, since they are all at home with widely different resources available to them, options will be key. I’m including my menu to get you started with a few ideas.

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Download The Snow Day Art Challenge Now!

Giving an incentive

One would hope students would be intrinsically motivated to further their own learning. However, I know my students well, and I suspect a small prize and bragging rights will really light a fire. I plan to give away Sno Caps, 7/11 Slushies, gift certificates for Wendy’s Frostys, and other snow-themed treats. I also plan to post the winners on a hallway bulletin board for everyone to admire. (I have some competitive kids!) If you aren’t able to put money into prizes, you could choose a free incentive as well. My students love coupons to choose the music in the art room or sit to by a friend in class. Whatever prize you choose, it will add another layer of motivation.

Is it going to work? As long as we don’t lose electricity, I’m optimistic it’s going to be a hit! Try making your students a “Snow Day Art Challenge” menu and join in the fun.

What would you add to your menu?

How do you encourage your students to make art at home?

Lindsey Moss

Lindsey Moss is an elementary art teacher in Yorkville, Illinois. She enjoys art history and finding creative and artistic solutions to educational challenges.

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  • Dawn Hoffman

    I like this idea! Thanks

  • Marcia Beckett

    This is brilliant! Thanks for the challenge already typed up and ready to go. My school (private) will actually sometimes conduct “at home ” school and post assignments online for the kids to do (so we can count it as a school day and not have to make it up at the end of the year.) I love that I can use this when it happens again!

    • Lindsey Moss

      Thank Marcia!

  • Mary Mohr

    I’m loving this idea! Lots of schools are steering away from food rewards, though. Any ideas for non-food “snowy” treats?

    • Lindsey Moss

      Hi Mary, Thanks for reading! So, ideas for non-food rewards… I like to give privilages. My students enjoy it when they get to choose the classroom music, pick their seat, or other do other classroom jobs. Another REALLY popular thing with my older kids (3rd- 6th) is an indoor recess pass. Now that it is COLD, they like to come to the art room and draw or complete a project instead of freezing their little patoots off outside. If you want the prize to be “snowy”, maybe a white model magic sample pack to make a snowman (I feel like I have quite a few of these floating around from vendors at conferences), or some inexpensive art supply that is glittery? I hope these ideas help!!!

  • Dawn Hoffman

    I just did this yesterday when we were off for an “Ice Day” I have a TON of artwork to look through! The kids really loved the idea and the parents were grateful for something for the kids to do since ice makes it all but impossible to go outside to play.