Kids' Activity: Indoor Snowflakes

by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder

Questions for the kids...

• Do all snowflakes have six sides?
• Are snowflakes always symmetrical?
• Can a snowflake have eight sides?

Snowflakes are formed when water vapor in the air cools and condenses into drops of water. Then each drop freezes into a tiny ice crystal around an even tinier speck of dust in the air. The snow crystals are smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.

A snowflake can be made of just 2 snow crystals or hundreds of snow crystals. Snow is really just dirt, dressed up in a shiny coat. In our activity, we'll be dressing up a pipe cleaner and some string with shining crystals, too.

Materials

• Wide mouth quart jar
• White pipe cleaner
• String
• Blue food coloring (optional)
• Boiling water
• Borax powder

Instructions

1) Cut the pipe cleaner into six inch sections.
2) Lay one piece horizontally and overlap with a "capital x" formed from the other two sections.
3) Twist in the middle and adjust so the "spoke" spacing is even.
4) Tie a thread around the end of one pipe cleaner and then the next and the next, finishing with a knot on the first section. This is your snowflake frame.
5) Tie another piece of string for hanging around one of the spokes. Set aside.
6) Fill the jar with boiling water. For each cup of water, add 3 tablespoons of Borax, one tablespoon at a time, in the boiling water.
7) Stir gently to dissolve. Add 1-2 drops blue food coloring if desired.
8) Now you are ready for the snowflake frame. Pick it up by the hanging string and slowly lower into the hot solution.
9) Tie the string to a pencil or dowel and adjust to center in the jar. Let rest over night.

In the morning you will have shining crystals attached to the string and pipe cleaner.

Answers for the above questions...

The basic ice crystal is hexagonal (six-sided). A snowflake can be six-sided. It can also be 3, 12, 18, 24 or irregular. Because each part of a snowflake is formed under the same conditions, they are usually very similar. Even so, it is rare for a snowflake to be symmetrical on all three planes. No, a snowflake can't have 8 sides. It is based on a six-sided crystal.

Resources:
• The Little Book Of Snowflakes, by Kenneth Libbrecht
• The Snowflake, by Kenneth Libbrecht
• Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Mary Azarian

Julie Snyder is a mom of six, interested in kids, pregnancy, birth, people and lives in the outlying Seattle area. Melissa Jaramillo is mom to many. She's passionate about building, encouraging, and strengthening families on this adventure known as parenthood!

Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.