What child doesn’t get swept up in the enchantment of softly falling flakes of snow? Whether you get snow where you live or not, exploring the properties of snow, making your own crystals, and reading a few snowy stories are a great way to get your kids engaged around the subject of snow.
Did you know?
Snowflakes are formed from individual snow crystals.
Snow crystals are not frozen raindrops. Frozen raindrops are what we call “sleet”.
Snow crystals are formed when water vapor in the air freezes into ice without first converting to liquid water.
Snow crystals start out as simple hexagon shaped prisms. The six corners branch out as the crystal grows larger, falling from the sky, through the clouds – which is what gives the snow crystal its familiar six point shape. Temperature and humidity affects the shape of the snow crystal, and gives each snowflake its unique symmetrical form. Because snow crystals don’t follow the same path down to earth, no two are exactly alike!
If you don’t get snow where you live, you’re not alone. It is estimated that almost half of the world’s population may have never seen snow in person! Whether you have snow outdoors or not, here’s a creative project for you to do in the winter…
Make Your Own Snow Crystals
You will need:
White pipe cleaners (1 per snowflake)
Scissors to cut pipe cleaners
10” piece of ribbon or string (1 per snowflake)
Craft sticks (1 per snowflake)
Wide mouth pint jar (1 per snowflake)
Borax powder (NOT Boraxo soap. You can find this in most laundry soap aisles)
Liquid measuring cup
Optional- blue food coloring
Adult supervision is required for this project!
- Cut a pipe cleaner into three equal sections.
- Twist the sections together to form a six-sided snowflake shape. Don’t worry if the sides aren’t entirely even. You can trim them to get your desired shape. Take care to make sure that the snowflake fits inside the mouth of the jar easily.
- Tie the string around one of the snowflake “arms.” Tie the other end to the craft stick. The string should be long enough to suspend the snowflake in the jar without touching the bottom or the sides of the jar.
- Carefully fill the wide mouth with boiling water. If you desire, you may add a few drops of the blue food coloring at this point.
- Add the Borax one Tablespoon at a time to the boiling water. Stirring (carefully) to dissolve after each addition. The recommended amount is 3 Tablespoons per 1 cup of boiling water. It is fine if some of the borax powder settles at the bottom of the jar.
- Place the pipe cleaner snowflake into the jar so that the craft stick rests on top of the jar and the snowflake is completely covered by the liquid and does not touch the bottom or sides of the jar.
- Allow the jar to sit overnight where it will not be disturbed.
- When you take your beautiful crystal out of the water, you can hang it in a window or somewhere so it can catch the sunlight!
Snowy Read Alouds
While you are waiting for your “snow” crystals to form, here are some snow-themed books you and your children might enjoy!
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
If you have a little one who loves construction vehicles, then be sure to introduce them to this heart-warming story of the big bulldozer, Katy, who determines to keep going even after all the other snow plows have given up.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
What snowy day would be complete without this magical story of a little boy’s wonder at the freshly fallen snow?
The Snowflake: Winter’s Frozen Artistry by Kenneth Libbrecht
Authored by a professor of physics who studies the molecular dynamics of crystal growth, this book uses microphotography to show the intricate detail of individual snowflakes and how they are created, both in nature and the lab. An excellent introduction to the science of snowflakes.
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Snowflake Bentley was a Vermont farm boy who loved snowflakes so much, he found a way to photograph them so he could share their beauty with the world. The Caldecott Medal winning wood cut illustrations and the touching story of a boy who refused to give up his dream for more practical pursuits make this book a real treasure!
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Your children will be captivated by the story of how the Ingalls family survived a terrible winter, snowbound in the town of DeSmet. The perfect chapter book read-aloud for those days and weeks when you feel like winter will never end.
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