Twinkle Snow

All the snow falls off from the clouds.  
Snowflakes are made with some water and snow.  
The sky painter who lives up in the sky paints the clouds and snowflakes.  
First they are different colours, then she uses her white paint to paint the snow.  
Because snow is supposed to be white!

In February, I showed the students a video entitled "Projector Snow" by a creative innovator named Brian Maffitt.  This YouTube video sparked a lot of discussion with our students and we decided that we'd post our response within the blog (Click here for the link to this initial post to understand the context for this work).  Brian Maffitt very thoughtfully replied to our students comments and questions, which lead to further conversations and an increased interest in the YouTube video clip.

The second time our students watched this video, A.S. said "it looks 3D!"  S.F. wondered why there were so many colours, and R.A. continued to question what made Mr. Maffitt think of putting the projector on the window.  Then something special happened.  A student in our class (J.A) came up to Mrs. Ham and I with her very own visual representation of the "Projector Snow" video.  She had taken black construction paper, cut it into a square, stapled a small projector at the bottom, and drew the colourful snow using crayons.  So I asked, "J.A. why did you decide to create this today?"  "Because I wanted to be part of the snowflake inquiry and make something to show Mr. Maffitt."

As a class we planned to create a visual response to his video and connect our snowflake theories to our own creative representations.  This also allowed the educators to integrate the snowflake inquiry with the curious about colours inquiry and turn it into a colour experiment.

Here is how it unfolded:

1. Viewed Brian Maffitt's Flickr Page to view his still shots some of which are photographed below:

2. Re-visited theories about how snowflakes are made and where they come from by drawing, writing, and orally communicating their thinking:

Ms. B: In order to create a masterpiece you need to plan for a masterpiece! 

3. Used iPads to view the "Projector Snow" YouTube video clip with a partner and discuss their favourite part of the video.  Students were then encouraged to pause the video at the part that intrigued them most, and that they wanted to base their visual representations on:

4. Drew their favourite part (that they paused) using pencil followed by marker:

5. Prepared our materials and followed a procedure that we read to create their visual representation:

Procedure: How to make Projector Snow Works of Art

These materials were set-up and ready for the students
even before they began their planning.  Seeing this
invitation for learning really intrigued them!  Two boys
were very enthusiastic to participate.  I have captured their
process for you to see below.  (All students who
participated followed the same process.)

  • cardboard boxes cut into flat canvases
  • black finger paint
  • food colouring
  • white project glue
  • tooth brushes
  • q-tips
  • acrylic paint (various colours)
  • salt


a) Cover the cardboard canvas with black paint.

b) Look at iPad with your paused favourite part or your plan to make coloured snowflakes with q-tips and acrylic paint.

c) Use toothbrush and dip it into the paint.  Flick it onto the cardboard canvas with your fingers.

d) Squirt white project glue designs to look like your favourite part.

e) Cover the white project glue designs with salt.

f) Squeeze a tiny drop of food colouring on the salted glue.

g) Admire your finished work and let it dry!

While G.G. was painting he said "we're doing different colours because of the movie.  I want the colours to fall down."

S.F. goes up to G.G. and Ai. Si. and she says to them "Wow boys that looks nice!"

6. Conferenced with each child to reflect upon their process, listen to the story behind their art, discuss their shifts in thinking, and determine a title for their visual representations.  Took documentation notes from the conversations to add to our Snowflake Inquiry binder:

Although I would love to share with you the entire conversation from each child, I am mindful that this post is becoming quite long...  I have included their latest theories about snowflakes and placed their title choice underneath their painting.

G.G.'s believes that snowflakes "come from the clouds.  The water cycle goes into the clouds.  They freeze into different shapes and they fall. I wonder where all the clouds are, because I can't see them.  Because the snow comes from the clouds."

Twinkle Snow
5.11 years

R.L. thinks that snowflakes come from the clouds.  "When it's actually snowing it's actually raining!  So it's mostly raining.  There are little droplets and as the droplets fall together they form a snowflake."

Snowy Dots: The Falling Droplets
6 years

S.F. is certain that snowflakes come from the clouds.  "They come from the clouds! When they dance something happens!  All the snow falls off from the clouds.  Snowflakes are made with some water and snow.  The sky painter who lives up in the sky paints the clouds and snowflakes.  First they are different colours, then she uses her white paint to paint the snow.  Because snow is supposed to be white!"

Kandinsky Snow Drops
5.10 years

R.J. excitedly shared that snow comes from the "clouds up high!  The space when it is far away from our planet, it has weaker gravity.  Then the snow will fall and fly everywhere.  Even to other planets.  That's why I think it comes from the clouds.  I think some sort of air comes up to the clouds and it has wet things in it.  So the clouds add white food colouring and then it drops down!"

Colourful Land
5.5 years

L.N. agrees that snowflakes come from the clouds.  "When the clouds, it's a bit cold, they freeze up and then they fall down through the clouds.  The snowflakes squeeze together and then the snowflakes fall down from the sky." 
L.N. painted the projector Mr. Maffitt projected into the night sky and snowstorm.

The Snowstorm
5.11 years

H.W. feels strongly that snowflakes come from the sky.  "I think they come from the sky.  The blue sky!  The blue beside the clouds!  The clouds make it and give it to the blue sky!  The clouds give it, because the blue sky can drop it!  The clouds take a piece of their cloud and mush it up."  H.W. also thinks that the clouds make snow "so there's snow because Santa wants that!  Because the reindeers like the snow.  It helps them to fly really fast!  The snow, it chases them!"  After naming her painting, HW spoke about the sky falling because it is winter.  She said that the sky also "falls in Fall from the leaves."

Sky Fall
4.8 years

J.A. is sure that snow comes from the clouds.  "The snow comes from the clouds and when the clouds they start to move then on a rainy day when the clouds are in the sky and they move again...after the snow falls down it melts the ice away and then it turns into water.  Snow is made by big ice inside the clouds.  The ice starts to break and it falls down."

The Snow Land
5.8 years

An. Si. decides that snowflakes come from clouds "because the clouds have rain in them and becomes snow.  They are made out of water!  They are even made of ice.  The rain freezes and it turns to ice. From the sky.  From the water cycle."

Colourful Snow
5.8 years

I would like to emphasize that we took our time with this work and really marvelled at the power the process has on thinking and learning.  The students were determined to complete this task and this taught them a strong lesson in developing persistence.  Persistence is a "Habit of Mind" that we have been working towards, and the students are striving to "not give up easily."

It also taught the educators that learning is beautiful if you slow down and really appreciate the process. Finally, provocations provoke curiosity and writing. Having our materials set up and ready for the students, gently invited them to participate, plan, and eventually paint!

Thank you again to Brian Maffitt for his inspiring video and comments to our students.  Without his work, none of this would have been possible.

Share your thoughts :

  1. You are a true innovator. I'm so inspired not only by this project, but by how you describe it in such a clear way.

    1. Royan you are far too kind!

      Happy to inspire one person at a time...

      Glad to read your feedback. I'm trying really hard to make visible our learning process in a clear way for educators, parents, administrators, and the students.

  2. This is absolutely wonderful Joanne! You, Julie and your team of learners continue to create such inspiring work and I truly enjoy reading your journey and hearing you highlight the process behind the product!

    1. Thanks so much Jocelyn! This means a lot coming from another K teacher/team that are equally inspiring in their teaching methods!

      I love to read your journey as well, and really appreciate that you took the time to read this LONG one!!!

      The process is the most important part! Very worth highlighting!

      Thanks for your comment,


  3. Wow. Now that's how it can be done! I mean, with the same input (my students adored the video and watched it again and again) we had a two-day sensory exploration: we swooned, and played, and moved on. Reading your beautiful learning story is like a glimpse into another world, in the way you supported such extended, deep engagement with inspiring process and product. I love the reflections and connections that you shared. Your students are so fortunate that you helped them think about their learning at all steps along the way. I may come back to this post again and again for the way you outline how to work with habits of mind. For while "making connections" is the big idea I set out for myself this year, I am still a beginner in this area.

    1. Laurel,

      Thank you for visiting and leaving us a message! I had to stop myself so many times throughout this process from blogging about it. My hope was to show how powerful the process can be by posting it in its entirety. This was no easy feat!

      Your comment is so beautiful. This kindergarten world that we are so fortunate to reside in each day is filled with many possibilities. We just have to give ourselves the time and permission to slow down our process...

      I look forward to continuing to read about your work too!


    2. Laurel,

      I also wanted to say that I really admire how reflective you are-a true learner!! That in itself is very inspiring...

  4. These are beautiful! Not just the paintings, but the sentiments behind them. I love that you mention the importance of slowing down. I think that's one of the hardest adjustments, but the payoff is huge. Slowing down allows us to listen more. The more we listen, the more opportunities for deep, enaging learning present themselves. One of the many things I love about your posts is how they're representative of this "pedagogy of listening."

    1. Sergio,

      I always smile when I see that you have posted a comment! Thank you!

      You're right about the adjustment in slowing down our pace. So often I found (and still find) that I am in a constant battle with the clock! It seems to be the only enemy in our kindergarten classroom that so desperately needs time for deep engagement in our process.

      Thank you also for reminding me of the "Pedagogy of Listening." I am going to re-read it now!

      Listening with your heart to the children that you work with leads to beautiful results. I truly believe that!

      I appreciate your kind response,


  5. Oh how beautiful. I really need to slow down as an educator as you have said.

    These paintings also remind me of Van Gogh' s Starry Night. Maybe a comparison of the two might be interesting?

    Enjoy the weekend!

    Kim Clark

    1. Thanks Kim!

      Great suggestion!! I will present that to my students next week and see if it leads to a deeper art investigation.

      I love how a blog allows educators to share their thinking and gain professional knowledge and support online.

      Love to connect through comments,


    2. In the event that your group wants to go further here is an idea I have done before. In creating a "Starry Night" in a grade 3 classroom, which can easily done by Kinders, we made circles in various colours, using dash lines, starting with a very small circle and growing bigger, and bigger with each colour all over a white piece of paper (this ended up looking like a bunch of fireworks all over the paper) - then black wash on top - and add a city and/or country scape with construction paper to have a surroundings contrast.

      Hopefully this makes sense.

      My kids are really interested in rainbows and are always making rainbow pictures, paintings, writing stories about rainbows in their journals - so with your inspiration I am trying create an inquiry for them. I think I may start with a colour inquiry and see where that leads us next.

      As always thanks for your blog and all your inspirations!


  6. Hi Kim,

    I love your ideas! What did you use for the black wash on top? Could you put a link to an image of this? Can I find it on Pinterest or the internet? I want to make the connection between the snowflake inquiry, dot project, and our current becoming architects and city planners project. The task that you suggest sounds like a great way to integrate all of our learning and extend it!!

    Rainbows and colours are such a wonderful way to engaged in inquiry! I will continue to visit your blog to see how it unfolds!

    Thank you,


  7. Hi Joanne
    What an amazing journey your students have been engaged in. You are so purposeful in every step you provide for them, slowing down the process so students learn to attend to details that might otherwise be lost. Such a rich experience.

    We have been working on a snow inquiry as well but haven't viewed this video yet. Had planned to show long ago but have got caught up focusing on other inquiries and therefore hope to get to it this week. It is very late in the season for snow (I know) but am interested where we go with it (if at all). I am wondering if the colours might inspire more of the colour inquiry, dot inquiry, rainbows, or something completely off my radar???? Will have to wait and see what my students are thinking.

    Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic blog. I am as always inspired by you and will keep you posted as to our journey!


    1. Hi Heather,

      Thank you for your comment!!

      I completely agree that we need to slow down the process so that our students can attend to details that might otherwise be lost. I'm pleased that I was able to make visible this rich experience for the students and educators.

      I'm very curious to learn where you students take this learning! It would be so neat for them to integrate their learning with other inquiries, and I love when things are off our radar!!

      Thank you for following our blog and enriching the dialogue for everyone who visits! You are the inspiring one!!!


      P.S. I will hold you to the last part of your comment! I'm intrigued to learn what unfolds...