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Activity Idea: Winter Sun and Shadow (Quick Tip)

Use the following strategies with Robert William Vonnoh’s Winter Sun and Shadow

Properties of Snow

Break into four groups. Give one group the definition of snow from a dictionary of your choice. Give another group The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Give the third group a color copy of the painting by Vonnoh. Ask the final group to recall a personal memory of snow. Ask all four groups to use their reference material to determine the properties of snow. Have groups share and compare findings.

Why Is the Sky Blue?

Write a short essay describing your creative reasoning for why the sky is blue. Share these as a class. Break into groups and visit the library and/or the following Web sites to learn more about why the sky appears this color: Why the Sky Is Blue or Why Is the Sky Blue?. Create a group diagram that answers this question. Compare the scientific evidence from the diagrams with your creative essays.

What Is It?

Research the different types of shadows created by the position of the sun in the sky throughout the day. Determine the time of day in which Vonnoh painted Winter Sun and Shadow. What information led to your conclusion? Using oil pastels or colored pencils, create a series of sketches based on Winter Sun and Shadow depicting the scene at different times of day based on the length of the shadows and colors found in the environment. Display the sketches in the classroom and have your classmates guess the time of day based on their research.

Growing Snowflakes in the Classroom

Make your own snowflakes by following the instructions for this experiment. Once snowflakes have formed, compare the colors in your snow to the colors found in Vonnoh’s painting. What colors do you find in your snow? How do the colors change when you view the snow in different light conditions? What light conditions create the colors closest to the ones found in the paintings? Why? What does this tell you about the conditions that Vonnoh was working in when painting? Why do you think he preferred to paint en plein air?