The Snowman and the Snowdog

Charlie is very much in love with this new app to coincide with a new Snowman animated film. The film will be shown on Channel 4 on Christmas eve and it marks the 30th anniversary of the popular Raymond Briggs story. The Snowdog is a new companion for the chilly fellow and has ears made from socks and a satsuma for a nose. You can find out more about the new film over on the official Snowman website, there you will find a shop, some crafty activities and some useful behind the scenes looks at the animation process. The Channel Four website has an interview with Raymond Briggs and a link to purchase the EBook of the new story.

The game involves  travelling around Hastings,  North and South London, the countryside and the North Pole. As you travel you need to pick up stars, presents, snowmen and other items. As games go it is not particularly taxing, though finding all the items is not easy and it will take you some time to complete it all. The reason it struck me though, was not playability, but the quality of the graphics. You are essentially travelling around a beautifully detailed and feature rich wintry wonderland as you play. it feels therefore very much like an immersive world and an ideal stimulus for some poetry or prose. If nothing else it may act as a springboard for children to want to read the original and the current book.

Imagine flying right next to the Shard or underneath Tower Bridge in the crisp twilight of a December evening, well this app lets you just about experience that feeling. With a class I would let each child play the game and stop at intervals to and scaffold their descriptions of where they had been and what they had seen. Pushing each child to come up with a different description of their movements and of the views and scenes would soon lead to a class list poem or free verse poem. We would also have created an extensive bank of vocabulary and together these could be tools for the class to innovate and create their own poem.

As this is a free app it is far more inclusive and involving  than other games based writing activities might have. If the app is on every device of your class set then clearly each child will have a slightly different perspective of the immersive world, unlike when you work with Myst on a PC or Endless Ocean on the Wii.

To compliment work on Snow and poetry why not take a look at this writing template over on Purple Mash, which I put together  last year. If you are keen to run these on your iPads, then you can get 90% functionality by using the free Rover app, which allows you to run Flash on an iPad.

If you are stuck for ideas for poetry writing or just need a bit of a push then Pie Corbett’s Jump Start Poetry is a collection of activities that have worked brilliantly for me with my Year 6 class. I am sure you can apply many of these to describing a wintry scene.

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