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January is a month of ice and snow. While teachers north of us only have to focus on what’s right outside the window, southern teachers find themselves in a tougher position. What are we to do? How can we talk about the joy of that fluffy white wonder to little ones who have probably never seen the real thing?

Well, we start with playing pretend. Snow ball fights with giant puff balls give all the excitement and joy of aim without leaving bruises. With a little teacher help, a few strategic snips unfolds into the wonderful symmetry of paper snowflakes. Modern science has created a boring plastic powder that only needs water to fluff up into the texture of real snow, without freezing those tiny hands.

Then, to help lend realism, we introduce some actual ice. Tempera paint can be frozen in ice trays without loosing its effectiveness, and popsicle sticks make fantastic handles for these solid paint brushes.

To top it all off, though, you need just a bit of the real thing, and nothing makes snow like a snowcone maker. A few teachers bring the home version with them to school, and (weather permitting) their classes actually get to go outside and throw real snowballs up into the air or across the playground. Even when you can’t go outside, a little light flavor and you can just eat the stuff. In some ways, slogging through the real thing every morning can wear away at the wonder of snow, and that gives we southern teachers the advantage. You don’t have to live in it to teach it, and the novelty and rarity of it make snow that much more exciting to those of us living in Savannah’s calmer cold-weather climate.