Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Snowflakes are Made (craft & science)

We got our first real snowfall of the season last weekend. It inspired these two activities - one science, one craft - both equally amazing.

First, I challenged my oldest son to put the process of how a snowflake is made in order.

I used one of our jumbo paint stir sticks that has velcro attached (see our last activity using them here). I printed the steps on cardstock, cut each out and attached a small dot of velcro to the back.

My son read them all and then guessed their order. He only had two switched around!!

Print the steps of a snowflake that I used here. They are in order on the printable. These were created based on information provided by the website geology (dot) com.

Next, we looked at some phenomenal photography of real snowflakes in the book The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty. I think both of us must have uttered "Whoa! Look at that one" at least a half a dozen times!

When we'd each found our favorite flakes in the book, we read It's Snowing by Gail Gibbons. The book provided more detail about the formation of snow, types of winter weather advisories, and weather-related vocabulary (e.g. whiteout). Gibbons' books always deliver.

Lastly, we made a paper snowflake. This was new to my son. He's made paper snowflakes with scissor cut designs, but never one that involved tape and some simple paper manipulation. He was really excited to see the final result and has already asked if we can make another.

The one we made is pretty big (maybe two feet around) and since we used office paper, a little floppy. (We are using it as a centerpiece.) I think our next flakes will be made a little smaller and with sturdier paper.

I like this project for multiple reasons. Supplies are minimal (paper and tape), the snowflake is six-pointed like real flakes, and the final result is stunning! Here's how we did it:

  1. Download the template, print, and cut away excess paper so you're left with a square. Fold the points of the square together so you've got  a triangle with lines on just one of the sides that touch the fold.
  2. Cut along the lines.
  3. Open the triangle and lay the square out flat in front of you.
  4. Take the two flaps of the innermost cut square and bring them together.
  5. Overlap them slightly and attach a small piece of transparent tape to hold them in place.
  6. Flip the paper over.
  7. Take the two corners of the medium square and bring them together. Tape.
  8. Flip the paper over once again.
  9. Bring the corners together on the remaining square.
  10. Tape together. One-sixth of your snowflake is complete.
  11. Repeat steps 1-10 five more times. Roll a piece of tape and adhere to the tip of one of your snowflake points. Attach to another snowflake point. (Make sure each piece you tape together is oriented in the same direction.)
  12. Continue attaching all six points together at the center tip until your snowflake is complete.

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