Even heads of state have been known to coin a cool one. According to the Washington Post (hyperlink defunct), President Obama described DC's storm as Snowmageddon (but see comment, crediting a meteorologist in Duluth). In order to understand Obama, we must have prior knowledge of the Biblical term Armageddon, of Hebrew origin. It's a battleplace and also the final battle between good and evil.
When we analogize we find points of comparison between things that are otherwise dissimilar. We draw an analogy, mentally moving from the known concepts snow and Armageddon to understand the unknown Snowmageddon. Again, we can only draw this analogy if we know a bit about Armageddon and snowstorms. Background knowledge is critically important.
Like Armageddon, the Apocalypse refers to Biblical end times, but it is of Greek origin. Apocalypse also refers to nuclear war, signaling devastation, destruction, doom. Here again, background knowledge is essential yet taken for granted--the wordcrafter assumed that everyone would understand apocalypse--probably a safe bet for many of us. Movie titles include Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse How and Apocalypse Cow (no joke) and let's not forget the apocalyptic film 2012. Teachers can help students draw an analogy from the known concepts snow and Apocalypse to understand the new concept Snowpocalypse. Critical thinking skills are at work when we analogize. By thinking aloud, teachers can transparently demonstrate how to draw an analogy. "Hmm...I don't know this word, but this part makes me think of...."
Encourage students to notice new words (neologisms) in film, books, websites, etc. Prompt students to invent words. Kindle interest. Awaken awareness. Inspire word consciousness, which should eventually promote vocabulary and comprehension (Graves, 2006; Nagy, 2007). Maintain a lighthearted yet explicit tone. Motivate. Get expressive! Prompt students to use words and gestures emphatically. In the video above, meteorologist Jim Kosek serves as a model for over-the-top drama as he theatrically gets his point across. Note the quote, "Yeah, I've been reading the dictionary."
Finally, many children in warmer climes have never experienced snow. They tend to be children of poverty, rarely traveling far from home. Optimally, a field trip is best. Alternatively, use the rich resources of the web to build knowledge; digital clips potentially pack a lot into two-minutes. Show the class the snowball fight, below. Afterward, engage in rich discussion and read Keats' 1963 Caldecott Winner, The Snowy Day. Create a word web, graphically connecting related concepts: snow, snowflake, snowstorm, snowball, snowball fight, snowplow, snowman, snow angel, weather, blizzard, storm, precipitation, frosty, silver, crystalline, symmetrical, cold, shovel, scrape, sculpt, etc. Use the semantic map as a prompt for peer discussion and a scaffold for writing.
That's all, folks. Stay safe in the snow. Go Saints!
Graves, M.F. (2006). The vocabulary book: Learning and instruction. New York: Teachers College Press.
Nagy, W.E. (2007). Metalinguistic awareness and the vocabulary-comprehension connection. In R.K. Wagner, A.E Muse, & K.R. Tannenbaum (Eds.),Vocabulary acquisition: Implications for reading comprehension (pp. 52-77).New York: Guilford Press.