Weekly Warm-Up: 5 Ways We are Warming Up on Snow Days

When it comes to winter, those of us who reside in chilly regions welcome snow days as a break from reality. After snow falls, the world is transformed into a different place. When snow covers everything, nothing seems dirty, nothing seems disturbed.

But underneath it all, something is disturbed. Climate change impacts where and when snowfall happens, and also where snow accumulates and stays for long periods of time. Regions where snow used to cover the land for months at a time have seen the scope of their winter snow dwindle. And that means fewer snow days.

Whether you live in an area that gets a lot of snowfall or in an area that’s never had a snow day at all, take a moment to celebrate snow with your students as an examination of the effects of climate change.

1. How do winter temperatures from nearly a decade ago compare to what your area is experiencing this year?

Check out the MapMaker Interactive map below to view average winter temperatures between 2007 and 2008.

  • What’s the temperature in your school’s playground today, and how does it compare?
  • Based on your findings, do your students feel that climate change is making an impact on your community?
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Average Winter Temperatures 2007-2008


2. How does disappearing snow affect animals?

Humans around the world may have different opinions about snow, but sometimes a snowy climate provides the only environment an animal thrives in. Check out this clip on tracking snow leopards in Afghanistan.

  • How is global warming affecting snow leopards?
  • Do your students know of other animals that are affected by similar circumstances?

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3. How does snow impact jobs and careers?

Read through this article on John “Snowshoe” Thompson.

  • How did the thick Sierra snowpack impact his ability to deliver mail?
  • What job responsibilities require similar characteristics of endurance and ingenuity?


4. How does snow define an entire landscape?

Zoom in on our map of Greenland without its iconic ice sheet. Have students discuss the hidden landscape.

  • What physical features are hidden by the Greenland ice sheet?
  • Would a melting ice sheet make Greenland more “green”?
Illustration by Alejandro Tumas, National Geographic


5. How are snow and ice integrated into the cultures of countries around the world?

Listen to more than two dozen sopranos interpret Queen Elsa’s iconic moment in Frozen, and work through our study guide on the multilingual phenomenon.

  • Why does Queen Elsa’s Scandinavian home make her comfortable with so much ice and snow?
  • Where would a queen isolate herself in the unsnowy landscapes in the tropics?

Does the snow bother you (or your students), anyway?

As snow falls or doesn’t fall in your area this winter, challenge your students to think about what would happen if snow disappeared altogether. How would a world without snow be different than the one we have now? Perhaps the threat of zero snow days to come will light the fire your students need to try to make a difference in future efforts to slow climate change.


More related resources from National Geographic Education

Resource Library: Climate Change

Mapping Tool: MapMaker Interactive: Surface Air Temperature, Winter (2007-2008)

Video Study Guide: How to Track a Snow Leopard in Afghanistan

Article with Vocabulary List: Snow Bound

Map: Vanishing Ice

Study Guide: ‘Let it Go’ Goes Global

2 thoughts on “Weekly Warm-Up: 5 Ways We are Warming Up on Snow Days

  1. As a resident in the Midwest Region of the United States, I have personally seen the differences in winters over the past couple of decades and how they have changed significantly over that time. Growing up in this region I remember winter break was always covered with snow and spring break in March always had snow. Now we seldom see snow in December that is more than a dusting and some years spring break is warmer here in the Midwest than down south to frequent vacation destinations in the US. I think that going forward into winter it is important to touch on the topics of climate change in every science classroom. In some way weather change can be related to any science subject. The five methods you present here to bring into the classroom during snow day season are fantastic. I really enjoyed the idea of how snow impacts jobs and careers. It is something that most people/students would not think about and is completely relevant to our world today going forward.

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