Wilson A. Bentley – The Snowflake Man

“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”

Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley 1925

Many Oak Meadow families who live in the northern hemisphere have received an abundance of snow this winter. It just keeps snowing and blowing! Old King Winter sits on his icy throne with sheer pride and pleasure, with his spritely right hand man, Jack Frost, at his side.

The snow flakes this season have been amazing! I have personally seen the largest snowflakes EVER in my life! Some have even fallen with crystalline color. It brings to mind a man by the name of Wilson Bentley, better known as the Snowflake Man.

Bentley was a farmer who grew up and lived in Vermont. As a young boy, he was home schooled. He had a natural affinity with nature, and with snowflakes in particular. He received his first microscope on his 15th birthday (in 1881) and began examining snowflakes. He soon discovered that no snowflake is like any other. At the age of 19, Bentley took his first micro-photograph of a snowflake, and this was the beginning of a passionate hobby. He spent his entire adult life photographing snowflakes, and by the time he died in 1931, he had photographed over 5,000 images. Imagine that!

The Oak Meadow syllabus in kindergarten and in first grade offers the artistic project of making paper snowflake designs. Mrs. Novak, a Title One Teacher Trainer at the Nashua, New Hampshire Elementary Technology Integration website (“Snowflake Bentley and Wonderful Winter Snow”) offers a wide variety of other artistic projects, games, and educational exercises on snowflakes that might interest you.


William Bentley’s official home site also provides an assortment of books for all ages on this marvelous “Snowflake Man”. If you are fortunate to live close to or pass by Jericho, Vermont, you can visit the Bentley Museum to view his photographed snowflakes and to learn more about his fascinating life and the captivating beauty of snow!



Oak Meadow’s fourth grade syllabus offers a block on poetry, which involves creating a portfolio of freestyle, rhyming and acrostic poems. Student Maren Doughty wrote a lovely acrostic poem on “SNOWFLAKES“…

Smelling hot chocolate
Now winter is here
Outside we go!
Wind howling
Freezing fingers and noses
Lots of snow angels shaped in the snow
All the gournd is covered white
Kids building snowman
Everyone is excited
Seeing snowflakes falling

A visit to a national park

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” John Muir

This July I had the good fortune of traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I had never been there before and I was surprised at how much the mountain fog really did look like great plumes of smoke crossing the peaks. The locals even say “smoke” when they talk about the natural fog. There are so many national parks all around the world and many can be visited in any season. Check out the parks in the United States!

Amazing Grandmothers

I recently became a grandmother and a friend sent me an article about a group of grandmothers from all over the world that have gotten together to do some very amazing things. One especially caught my eye because I have always been fascinated with Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman’s attitude and strength of courage are something I greatly admire. Now I admire Joan Southgate too! This is an excerpt from the article in Yes! magazine:

“Joan Southgate: Walking to Retrace the Underground Railroad

Joan Southgate “Joan Southgate, retired Cleveland social worker and grandmother of nine, used to walk a daily mile for exercise—’an old lady stroll,’ as she described it. Then one day she felt a calling to praise her ancestors who walked hundreds of miles to freedom: She decided to retrace their steps along the Underground Railroad.

In 2002, at age 73, Southgate began walking the 519 miles from Ripley, Ohio  to St. Catharines, Ontario, Harriet Tubman’s terminus on the Underground Railroad. Traveling 10 miles a day, she visited Underground Railroad sites, gave presentations at schools, and slept in the homes of welcoming strangers, her own “safe houses.”

Cleveland’s Underground Railroad codename was “Hope” and Southgate, motivated by her pilgrimage, founded Restore Cleveland Hope to save the city’s only remaining Underground Railroad house from demolition. To raise money for the project, Southgate, at age 80, walked another 250 miles from Canada back to Cleveland, completing the final mile with 170 companions inspired by her journey.

The house will open next year as an Underground Railroad teaching center where Southgate hopes people will learn ‘what is possible in the way of changing the world and loving people.'”

Videos in your essays



ThePianoGuys.”The Cello Song – (Bach is back with 7 more cellos.)” YouTube. YouTube, 14 June 2011. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.

Recently a student found it interesting to support his ideas about the music of the Renaissance by submitting some examples of its use in YouTube videos. I thought it was a great idea! It can be very useful to include a YouTube video, in an answer to an assignment, to support a thought or idea you have.

Go ahead and give it a try! It is important to make sure that you use the proper name of the video and that you cite where it came from. Based on MLA standards for other media formats, Oak Meadow asks that you use the following format. Here is the most acceptable form for citing YouTube videos:

Author’s Name or Poster’s Username. “Title of Video.” Name of Website. Name of Website Publisher, date of posting. Medium. Date retrieved.

Here is an example of what that looks like:

Gravicembalo. “Italian Renaissance Music for Viola da Gamba Consort, La Gamba.” YouTube. YouTube, 2 June. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.

Make sure you include all the quotation marks, commas, italics, and periods in the proper places.

Cowichan, British Columbia


Numerous Oak Meadow home teachers with students in first through third grade have commented on how much their children love the map work and studying about other places and cultures around the world. Geography and history are quite fascinating to me, as well, and when a certain place grabs my attention, I want to put on my “traveling shoes” to visit and experience the uniqueness of the place.



This is what happened when I recently watched the delightful, musical art piece and masterfully done video, “Once Upon a Day.” It captures the spirit and essence of the majestic Cowichan, a district on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The spectacular scenery, the diversity of live music played in various settings, the outdoor activities, the creative arts, and the scrumptious looking food offers great temptation for exploration of this inclusive and diverse community. So, put on your own “traveling shoes” and watch the magic of this inspirational video with your children.



Banned Books

 And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell

Banned Books Week is celebrated each autumn in the United States. The American Library Association is the main sponsor of the event because it is an event that proclaims intellectual freedom and the right of all to have free and open access to information.

“The American Library Association is the main sponsor of Banned Books Week. Their website provides ideas on how to celebrate the annual event in your community or school, lists of frequently banned books, and resources for fighting a local challenge. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.” Banned Book Week promotes our freedom to choose, and the importance of the availability of books on all topics and about all viewpoints for those that want to read them.  ALA: Banned Books

Check out the list. I’ll bet you’ve read some of these books like The Hunger Games, And Tango Makes Three, or The Golden Compass.

Let us know:

 Do you think that any book should be banned? Have you read a book that is on the list?


Artistic Activities with Hands and Feet!

Bright sun, shining down
Shining on the ground.
What a lovely face you have
Yellow big and round.

By Amanda Vasquez

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, many of us are currently experiencing cold temperatures, cloudy skies, and an abundance of snow. Although I love the season of winter, I can’t help but sometimes reflect on the coming of spring and the summer days that vibrantly provide us with bright sunshine and warmer temperatures.

 Good morning SunshineOn particularly cloudy days, it can be fun to create your own sunny space through creative endeavors. Yes! You can bring sunshine into your homes! You can start the day by waking your child and pleasantly greeting them with “Good morning, Sunshine”.

Window-Sun-1It’s also a fantastic way to document your children’s development through the use of their fast growing bodies, and hands are a great way to measure the growth. Here’s a fun site that offers suggestions for creating suns with handprints.

Robin footprintThroughout the K-4 Oak Meadow science studies, animal tracking exercises involve exploring outdoors in search of tracks, along with identifying and drawing them. Tracing the student’s foot is a suggested activity. If you would like to add some artistic ideas to foot tracing, here’s another site that provides clever ideas. The robin theme is my favorite! If your children would like to share their hand-and-foot art, please send a photo. It would be a delight to view all the artistic endeavors created by our awesome Oak Meadow students!

Number or Numeral?

Which to use? A numeral or a number? What’s the difference?

Well, a numeral is a name or a symbol. For instance, we talk about the numbers using the numerals 3 or the word three. The number is the idea or amount and the numeral is what we write.

But when we are writing an essay, story, or report, how do we know whether to write the numeral or the word? Well there happens to be a rule about it! We follow the rule to spell out single-digit whole numbers such as one, two, six, or nine. Use numerals for numbers greater than nine such as 35, 42, or 180. 

“Jane went to the farm and bought three horses and 32 bales of hay.”numerals

Read more about the 10 Rules for Writing Numbers and Numerals.


When Do You Capitalize Terms about Time?

clockIt is often a challenge to know when to capitalize a historical event or period of time in history. A good rule of thumb is to capitalize specific historic time periods and specific events, but not periods or events in general. For instance, I am interested in the Civil War, but not interested in a war with Russia. I like studying about the nineteenth century and also the Battle of Gettysburg. On the Fourth of July we celebrate winter birthdays because it’s more fun to be swimming in the pond than ice skating on Crystal Lake!

This website may help when you are stumped as to what to capitalize in a sentence.

When Do You Capitalize Terms About Time?

Let us know:

Have you been challenged lately with not knowing whether to capitalize a word or not? What was the word?