Spotlight on Strategies

A Snow Ball Fight with a Learning Curve By: Heather McCabe

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Students need various ways to become engaged in the learning process to spark a curiosity and interest in the concept or discipline being presented. "According to Magnesen (1983) we learn 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we say, and 90% of what we say and do." The snowball throwing strategy allows students to learn by doing and to grow the students' interest in the teaching and learning process. According to Gardner, a variety of entry points achieves the two important goals of the teacher reaching more students and demonstrates what genuine understanding is like. After researching multiple effective instructional strategies, I found the snowball fight activity very interesting and easy to incorporate with many different disciplines and activities to serve multiple purposes. The purpose of the snowball fight is to predict, summarize, justify, and think critically. Students have the ability to learn how to problem solve and think in various ways to reach a particular goal. This is a strategy that can help students express their ideas and perspectives in a non-threatening and engaging way. It allows each student's voice in the classroom to be heard and is also held very valuable to the learning of the concept. The students have the ability to show their creative thinking skills by sharing their perspectives about a problem, topic, or idea. They can even pose questions to their classmates to answer to allow for multiple points of views and perspectives. This is a great way to keep all students engaged and accountable for their own learning instead of always lecturing and teaching to the students. This gives them the ability to make more choices, find what interests them the most and try to find answers to the unknown. Students will get to simulate a snowball fight and throw out or share what they have learned with their classmates and will be challenged to think critically and respond to their peer's statements or questions.


This activity would be incorporated into an lesson activator or launch in a second grade classroom. Students will be beginning their cross-curricular study of the American Flag.

1. Students will first listen to our National Anthem.

2. Students will share what it reminds them of or what they think about when they hear this song. They can also share where they hear this song played. Ideas can be listed in a brainstorm web.

3. Students will then view a picture of the American flag today and they can add and share their observations of what is looks like, how it makes them feel, and why they think it's important. This will help to gain some background knowledge of what they already know about our flag and its purpose.

4. Students will watch a video clip on the American Flag from Discovery Education and will be given a piece of paper to write down their name at the top of the paper and one important fact they have learned that they did not already know about the history of our flag.

5. After the video, make sure all the students have written down a fact that they have learned from the video. They will then crumble their paper up into a "snowball"

6. Have the students stand in a circle and explain to students that they will be throwing their snowballs up in the air and into the middle of the circle and not at any of the other students. Once all of the snowballs are in the middle of the circle, each student will take a snowball and to ensure that all the responses are all mixed up, have students throw the snowball they have up again and into the middle of the circle and have them pick a snowball.

7. Once this has been done a few times, have the students take the snowball they picked up, read the fact, and see if they can add a new fact other than the one they have already shared and that their peers have written down. This is an active way to allow students to share their ideas with their classmates where all students are engaged in the learning process together. They will then return the snowball to their owner. Having another student respond to a classmate's first fact gives students a different perspective and another useful fact their classmate learned or related to.

8. The responses will then be shared with the class to see how many different facts they were able to share and learn from the video. The facts that students found the most interesting can then be added to each student's personal flag graphic organizer where they can write their ideas and facts on the flag's stripes. A group graphic organizer to show student learner can also be displayed in the classroom.

Here is an example of the flag graphic organizer that could be used. It just need to be tweaked to your liking and purpose. I would enlarge it when making copies to allow for students to add their facts neatly and have the ability to be easily read.

Flag Example


Challenge #1 Activity Extension: To make this a little more challenging for your students, you could take the snowball activity another step further and see if your students can come up with a question they have about our flag and see if the person who picks up their snowball can answer the question in their own opinion or perspective. A group discussion can then be had about the questions. Students appreciate hearing other students share their ideas and what they may know about a topic. It can also initiate a great discussion in a creative way that is student led rather than led by the teacher, thus creating meaningful experiences.

Challenge #2: See if you can incorporate the Snow Ball Fight activity into your own curriculum at your grade level. See if the use of digital media such as videos, songs, or pictures can aide in connecting to student interest and prior knowledge. Decide which discipline and what purpose this activity will serve to aid in the understanding of concepts and ideas. This can be done at any age group and can serve a more open-ended purpose to allow students to think critically about an idea and engage in active participation with their classmates. Most of all, watch how much fun your students can have in this activity while also learning!


American Flag [Image] Retrieved July 24, 2014 from

Discovery Communications, Inc., Fireworks and American Flag. [Image] Available from

Discovery Communications, Inc., The American Flag on the Moon’s Surface. [Image] Available from

Discovery Communications, Inc., Old Glory. [video] Available from

Does Your Dog Catch Snowballs? (2013) I Got It [Image] Retrieved July 24, 2014 from

Fifty Stars and 13 Stripes Graphic (1995) Retrieved July 24, 2014 from

Gardner, H. (2006). Five Minds for the Future. (First e-book Edition) Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press

Mullins, H. The Snowball Technique. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from

National Anthems and State Songs. (1999-2014). Movie Sound Clips. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from

Sumarni, N. (2012). The Influence of Snowball Throwing Strategy on the Students' Speaking Skills at the Second Year of SMP Negeri 2 Sumberjaya-Majalengka ( Master's Thesis, Syekh Nurjati State Institute. Retrieved from