A Snowball Fight....in So Cal? In the Spring??

Today we had a snowball fight in my classroom.  Well...sort of.  I know what you're thinking.  Snowballs now?  What is she talking about?  Well, if I had titled this post "Independent and Dependent Clauses in Mrs. Moorman's Room", you wouldn't have opened this post.  Am I right?  Thought so.  So now that you are here, you might as well read about what we have been doing...and I promise there will be a snowball fight in here somewhere ;)

photo of morning message
This week, we have been talking about independent and dependent clauses.  We have learned about them before, so it isn't new.  However this week we get an entire week of them.  With The TEST looming, it is good timing.  The week started with a morning message filled with the clauses (and appositives...I thought I could throw those in as well).  The kids found and combined them, just as they will be asked to do on The TEST.  Here is a copy of the morning message for you.

teachinginroom6.blogspot.com   Teaching in Room 6
After creating a review anchor chart (this is the actual one I made with the students, which would explain the sloppiness), we opened up the workbooks to identify the different clauses.  Talk about B.O.R.I.N.G.  Instead, the kids created a foldable.

language arts   5th grade
On the outside of the flaps, the students wrote the two different clauses found in the complex sentences.  Inside, they identified the clauses and wrote the reasons *why* they were such.  Much more effective and rigorous...and a bit more exciting for the kids.  These took a few days to complete, but the kids really did show their understanding of the different clauses this way (instead of just filling in a worksheet)

american revolution
Then, today, we had our snowball fight.  While reading our non-fiction book about the causes of the American Revolution, I had the students find some complex sentences that contained both an independent and a dependent clause.  They wrote each part on a separate piece of paper.  I asked them to find two sentences, so they had a total of 4 pieces of paper. 

Here is where the fun came in.  Once the kids had their sentences written, they all gathered on the rug.  You see, we are learning about the causes of the American Revolution.  We *just* talked about the Boston Massacre and how it basically began with a snowball fight.  So I had the students wad up their pieces of paper into snowballs and we all tossed them into the air.  It was our own little snowball "fight"  (anyone see the connection here????)  The kids LOVED this.  They wanted to do it again so badly, that I let them pick up the papers and toss them again.  This helped to further mix them up, so it was fine.

photo of language arts snowball fight

photo of independent and dependent clauses
The kids then picked up 4 pieces of paper from the ground and went back to their seats.  When they opened them up, the kids had to decide if they were holding an independent or dependent clause and why they thought that.  Then, the students had the task of making it into a complex sentence by adding on their own dependent or independent clause to the clause they picked up.  Here is the sheet they used to help them organize their thoughts.

This part was actually really eye-opening for me.  I had just assumed that the students would be able to identify the clauses in our reading.  But they had a lot of trouble.  Anytime there was a comma, the kids assumed it was a dependent clause.  I am going to have to go back and reteach transitions, fragments, etc...

So there you have it.  A week's worth of independent and dependent clause activities.

How can you take these activities and adapt them to use in your room?


  1. I saw a snowball fight activity like that when I was student teaching! My last week was spent observing in other classes, and I was in a 4th grade room when I saw this. They had a daily vocabulary word, and one of the things they'd do first thing in the morning was write a sentence using the previous day's word. Then they'd ball it up and throw it... but I can't remember what they did afterwards, haha! Whatever it was, it left an impact on me. :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  2. I love this whole thing, from beginning to end. We worked on complex sentences just before spring break in my 4th grade class. The funnier the sentences, the better they seemed to grasp the concept. I LOVE all the work you did with your students, and I plan on stealing the lessons. Thanks! :)

  3. I love this idea! I created a link to it over at my Weekend Reading blog post this weekend. Thanks for sharing!


  4. LOVE LOVE LOVE this. I get so tired of the dumb workbook...and this looks great. We are reviewing next week, and will use this plan. THANKS!

    1. Thanks! The workbook can be tiresome...at least this is a little way to liven up independent clauses ;)

  5. Love your ideas. Your students are very fortunate to have you as a teacher. I hope you keep sharing ideas on how prepare students for the test. I'm a 1st year 4th grade teacher and need as many ideas as possible. Please!

  6. Thank you for sharing this! This is an awesome idea that I am going to incorporate parts of this into my ESL classroom in Korea.

  7. I can't wait to try out this idea with my Grade 5 class in the UK. We're working on conjunctions and identifying the different types. I'm going to have a bunch of sentences with conjunctions in. Then after the "fight" I'm going to have them sort the snowballs into groups. We rarely get snow in this part of England and so I'm sure my class will welcome this game! Thanks so much for the great idea!


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