When Students Ask About Snow




Maybe one of the best things about teaching students from countries around the world is that they can marvel at things you take for granted in your own country–they can be incredibly harsh and critical too, but we’ll let that slide for now. I want to relate a recent conversation with my students that illustrates this positive aspect.

My student arrived in class on Tuesday, fully rested from the “Family Day” holiday. One of the first things he said to me was, “I really want to make a snowball.  I’ve seen it in so many movies and I want to do it myself.”

He got most of the classes attention, and all eyes turned to the window to look out at the softly falling snow–except for those eyes that checked their phones for the hundredth time that morning. Knowing that this was his first winter that had snow and temperatures near or below zero, I let him go on.

He continued. “I tried to do it today but I couldn’t.  The snow was….” He then had to resort to gestures which indicated the snow didn’t hold together and flew away like dust when he let go of his hands.

I explained the idea of packing snow and taught the vocabulary. It helped that I have a fully functional “smart board” to work with.

Crestfallen, he asked if it would ever be possible. I guess he interpreted the my explanation that somehow packing snow does not fall in this part of Canada.  I explained that he would get his chance soon, perhaps when it warmed up a little.

I then made a suggesting that only caused more consternation and discussion. I told the class that although they couldn’t make snowballs and have a snowball fight, they could probably make snow angels.

The student jumped up and exclaimed. “I did that!”  He then pulled up a picture on his smartphone and showed the rest of the class.  I complimented him on his work and started to plan my exit from the conversation, so we could get down to salvaging the lesson plan I had worked out.  I wasn’t fast enough for what happened next.

“That’s a snow angel? one of the more vocal/funny/charismatic women in the class asked. I was a bit nervous that this might cause some hurt feelings, but I also knew that these two had developed a friendship based on kidding each other, so I let it slide.”  Her follow up was equally, if not more brilliant.  “It looks more like a snow butterfly.”

The class cracked up.snowman

I appreciated my student’s enthusiasm and we had a pretty constructive class.


Afterward, the student who so ardently wanted to throw snowballs asked me about building a snowman. He seemed surprised that it might actually be a lot of work.



About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in adventure, ambition, appreciation, Aspirations, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, education, experiences, snow, students, teaching, winter and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to When Students Ask About Snow

  1. Illian Rain says:

    Lovely post! Thank you for this. 🙂

    • Anthony says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I have to say, though, your most recent post was much more lyrical.

      • Illian Rain says:

        I guess that’s why we follow each other–the heart in your post was immense and took me back to when I too was still enamored with snow. Never mind that I was born in Canada. 🙂

      • Anthony says:

        Having gone to Concordia (yes, I read your “about” page) I am sure you’ve seen your fair share of snow–but I do love the excitement in those who are seeing it for the first time. Though it was wonderful to hear my student’s thoughts, I wish I had gone skiing on Tuesday.
        Love your work. Keep it up.

      • Illian Rain says:

        Yes, snow is my familiar. 🙂 I can only imagine how people feel seeing it for the first time–I’m living vicariously through you. Your writing is really inviting and something I specifically look for in my feed. And thank you for the support–much appreciated.

      • Anthony says:

        I just wanted to thank you for the compliments on my writing. They have stuck with me for the last few days (when I have been inspired to write anything) and quite honestly, they have made me feel good. Thanks again.

      • Illian Rain says:

        I am delighted to hear that! You have a lovely, inviting voice and your writing has wonderful flow to it. I’m glad our chats have cheered you up. Have a wonderful Sunday Anthony. 🙂

      • Anthony says:

        Thank you very much. I hope your Sunday is excellent too.

  2. bribikes says:

    It is so much fun to introduce others to snow, I have had the chance several times and it always makes my day.

    “Looks more like a snow butterfly.” Haha, that’s awesome!

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