Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Snowflake Bentley is a children's biography about Wilson Bentley... the man who discovered that no two snowflakes are alike. Author Jacqueline Briggs Martin wrote Snowflake Bentley in 1998 and the book has been in constant publication since then. In 1999, illustrator Mary Azarian won the Caldecott Award for her illustrations in the book. Who is Wilson 'Snowflake' Bentley? Why is the book about him so popular? Keep reading to learn more about Snowflake Bentley and how to integrate it into your language arts and STEM activities!

Integrated STEM and language arts activities for the book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Free biography printable. 2nd to 4th grade.

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

About Snowflake Bentley

🍎 Author's Summary: In this Caldecott Medal-winning picture book, the true story of Wilson Bentley and his singular fascination with snowflakes is rendered in rich prose and gorgeous artwork, perfect for the holidays, snow days, and every day. Wilson Bentley was always fascinated by snow. In childhood and adulthood, he saw each tiny crystal of a snowflake as a little miracle and wanted to understand them.

His parents supported his curiosity and saved until they could give him his own camera and microscope. At the time, his enthusiasm was misunderstood. But with patience and determination, Wilson cataloged hundreds of snowflake photographs, gave slideshows of his findings, and, when he was 66, published a book of his photos. His work became the basis for all we know about beautiful, unique snowflakes today.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

🍎 Title: Snowflake Bentley
🍎 Author: Jacqueline Briggs Martin
🍎 Illustrator: Mary Azarian
🍎 Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
🍎 Date: December 28, 2009, reprint
🍎 Pages: 32

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Learning About Biographies

Even though Snowflake Bentley is written as a narrative... in story form... it is a biography of Wilson Bentley's life from childhood until his passing at the age of 66. Before reading Snowflake Bentley with your students, take some time to review the characteristics of a biography.

A biography is...
  • a factual piece of text that is written to inform the reader about a specific person's life
  • written in chronological order
  • narrated by an author who is not the person featured
  • sometimes includes the author's opinion of the person featured

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

While reading Snowflake Bentley with your students, help them identify important details from Wilson Bentley's life:

  • childhood: When and where was he born? Where did he grow up? What was his family like? Did he go to school?
  • challenges: What obstacles did he overcome? What events and people shaped his life?
  • traits: What physical traits did he have? What character traits? How would you describe him?
  • legacy: What is he known and remembered for? What impact did he have on science?

The following chart can be used for note-taking while you are reading Snowflake Bentley with your students or afterward as an independent comprehension check. The chart is intentionally open-ended so you can adapt it to meet the needs of your students. Enjoy!

Snowflake Bentley Graphic Organizer by Kelly Wilson, Kelly's Classroom Online

To download a FREE copy of this graphic organizer, (one page in all), please click on the image above. Clicking this image will take you to the Teachers-Pay-Teachers third-party website. This is a FREE download-- no purchase necessary.

Science and STEM Activity

Wilson Bentley collected snowflakes on a dark tray and photographed them with his special camera. Students are often surprised to find out they can recreate the process he used! 

To recreate Wilson Bentley's process, you will need:

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin


  1. Tape the black construction paper to the cookie sheet.
  2. Take the cookie sheet outside and let the snowflakes fall onto it.
  3. Use your camera to take photos of them.
  4. Print your photos if desired.

Wilson Bentley discovered that no two snowflakes are the same. They can have similarities but are never exactly the same. What patterns and designs will your students discover while looking at them?

Close up of snowflakes on black paper

Note: The best time to collect and photograph snowflakes is when the big, fluffy snowflakes are falling. It is easier to see designs and patterns on the big flakes!

Did you enjoy learning about Snowflake Bentley and the STEM experiment? If so, check out these other winter-themed books and activities:

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1 comment:

  1. Love your this post. Great job Kelly. It would work well with my snowflake coloring pages ;)