Even More Snow Fun!

Well, more snow is predicted here in the Northeast and over much of the country. Here's a quick and easy investigation you can do with your kids/students while it's snowing.

Materials Needed:
  • Magnifying glass (hand lens)
  • large piece of dark paper (e.g. black or dark blue construction paper)
  • something to support the paper (e.g. a cookie sheet, large book, or clipboard)
Optional Materials:
  • Blank white paper and pencils or colored pencils
  • cotton dish towel, a bathroom terrycloth towel, a scrap of old fabric, or other material or papers
  • small paintbrush (for moving flakes around gently)

 Procedure:
  1. Take the construction paper outside. Let some snowflakes fall on the paper.
  2. Ideally, take the paper into a cold garage, covered porch, or other place out of the snow (you can even get into a cold car). If you don't have a covered place, lean over the paper to prevent more flakes from falling on it.
  3. Use the hand lens to examine the flakes. Big fluffy flakes are the easiest to see, but children should still be able to note differences in the flakes. Challenge children to draw the crystal patterns they see.
  4. You could also try out different materials to catch the snowflakes. Try using a cotton dish towel, a bathroom terrycloth towel or a scrap of old fabric. Which material catches and holds the flakes the best? Which makes observations easier?
(Teacher note: This lesson addresses Massachusetts, grades 3-5, Earth and Space Science standard # 7.   If students are able to clearly see the crystals, it also addresses Math standards about symmetry. Certainly, a follow-up math lesson could include making paper snowflakes that have 1, 2, 3, or more lines of symmetry. Students could use a different colored marker or pencil to trace different lines of symmetry).

For a literature connection, try this book:
For some stunning recent photographs of snowflakes, try this book:

For those of you in the snow band, try it out, won't you? And let us know what you discover!