Snowflakes are the thrill of a child’s winter, especially that first snowfall. While they can also be the bane of an adult’s existence in the winter time, enjoying snow with children can add fun to the season. Try these experiments for preschoolers, and discover the delights of snow – whether it’s the first snowflake or the last snowfall before spring.
What is a Snowflake?
A snowflake is made out of ice crystals. These form when the liquid that falls from the clouds turns into a solid at zero degrees Celsius. These crystals can be difficult to capture, since they melt as soon as they are in a warm palm or a warm room. While many snowflakes are symmetrical and hexagonal, some snowflakes may encounter different temperatures or pollution along the way, resulting in snowflake crystals that have different shapes on different sides of the flake.
Examine the Crystal Structure of Snow With a Magnifying Glass
Find a simple but good quality selection of hand lenses, and take them outside for the children to play with. As the snow falls on leaves and on jackets, have the children examine the flakes to see if they can see the crystal structure. If possible, bring an inexpensive microscope out and do the same thing. Set up a snow observation station.
Different Types of Snow
How does snow feel when it is fresh powder? When it’s full of rain? Collect scoops of the snow that has fallen, especially if it’s nice and fluffy. Add water, heat it up a little, stomp on it and fluff it with the fingers. What happens to the consistency of the snow? Are some types of snow easier to walk in or build with?
How Heavy is the Snow?
Collect some snow, some ice, and some rain water in different bags. Try to collect the same quantity of each. Place these bags one by one on a kitchen scale. Which bag is the heaviest? Which bag is the lightest? This is an opportunity to talk about the density of different materials. Sometimes materials can take up a lot of space, but they can actually be light and fluffy, like fresh snow. Try this with other classroom materials that take up the same amount of space but are different weights.
Add Colors and Syrups to Snow
How does a frozen substance interact with a liquid? Make snow cones, either real or pretend. Have the children create cold water solutions with a few drops of food coloring. Then drop the liquid slowly onto a small pile of snow. What happens to the liquid? For an edible version, try this with syrups, especially colorful syrups like strawberry and blueberry. This makes a homemade snow cone that is good to look at and better to eat!
Snow is fun to play in, and it’s also a fantastic opportunity to experiment with an interesting substance. Preschoolers naturally experiment with snow, forming it into shapes and even eating it. Encourage this interest and take the preschool science lab outside this winter. Conduct experiments with snow!