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Winter Landscape Dioramas | AES Second Grade

Posted in Kids' Corner
Exploring Hallam Lake on a field program

For the last three months ACES has been collecting shoeboxes. One hundred and twenty of them, to be exact, one for each second grader at Aspen Elementary School. The shoeboxes have been stacked in the ACES Science Classroom at Aspen Elementary School, and now that students have returned from winter break they will begin to transform their shoebox into an amazing diorama, exhibiting local animals, and how they deal with the challenges of winter.

Slowly the dioramas take shape - first with a coating of blue sky and a collage blanket of snow. Trees and bushes pop up, made of paperboard, and finally the animals, sculpted of model magic. There are hibernating bears, bounding snowshoe hares, and long-legged elk; each of which boast their own adaptations for the winter season.



Students learn that each animal fits into one of three categories based on how it survives the winter. Animals that avoid winter (by migrating, hibernating, or laying their eggs for the next season) are called “Snow Haters.“ These animals all have behavioral adaptations that allow them to avoid the challenge of winter altogether. “Snow Toleraters,” such as deer and elk, deal with winter, but not particularly well. They endure winter conditions but still struggle to find food, stay warm, and walk through the snow. “Snow Lovers,” however, are adapted perfectly for winter, and the long, harsh season isn't particularly challenging for them. Snowshoe hares, weasels, and ptarmigans are all classic examples of animals with physical adaptations that make snow and cold bearable, maybe even enjoyable.

The AES second graders learn all about winter and local animals’ responses to winter over the course of a couple of weeks of varied curriculum, including these dioramas, a field program up on Aspen Mountain, classroom lessons and more.

If you'd like to see the second grader’s dioramas, they will be on display at Aspen Elementary School on the ramp on the way down to the cafeteria by mid-February.

~ Melanie Poole, ACES Educator