Make Snow!

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Little Makers: Make Snow!

(December 2013)

PlaceFayetteville Free Library

Topics: Science, Meteorology

Dates: Saturday 12/7, from 10:30-11:30pm; Tuesday,  12/10 from 5:30-6:30pm;

Educational Content: We learned:

  • Snow is a form of precipitation; other forms of precipitation are rain, hail, and sleet.
  • Snow forms when water vapor in the atmosphere freezes into ice crystals.
  • Snowflakes form in a variety of different shapes.
  • All snowflakes have six sides and are symmetrical.

Books & Resources:

Materials: 

  • Disposable Diapers
  • Water
  • Scissors
  • Paper Plates
  • Shaving Cream
  • Corn Starch
  • Spoons
  • Decorations (optional)
  • Rags (for cleanup)

Instructions:

  1. I started out by reading I am Snow and asking them questions about what snow is, where it comes from, etc.
  2. The second, non-fiction book The Story of Snow allowed us to explore how snow forms. It also features pictures of real snowflakes, magnified. (At this point I really wished that our library owned a microscope, so we could look at some real samples!)
  3. I made sure to explain that we weren’t going to be making REAL snow, and emphasized some of the potential differences. (Ours won’t melt, for one).

Part I: Disposable Diapers + Water

I found full instructions for this experiment here.
  1. Give each child a diaper, a pair of scissors, and a plate.
  2. Allow them to cut/rip into the plastic lining of the diaper and begin harvesting the tiny crystals embedded in the cotton pads.
  3. These tiny sodium polyacrylate crystals might not look like much, but they provide most of the absorbency of the diaper.
  4. Keep shaking out that diaper onto the paper plate; there are more crystals in there than you think!
  5. Then add water. Start with a little bit, and add more, depending on how “slushy” you want your snow to be.
  6. Play with it and ask the children questions like: what does this feel like? How is it like/unlike real snow? Is it cold? Does it melt?
  7. Sodium polyacrylate ‘snow’ feels cool to the touch because it is mainly water, which is cooler than the air temperature. If you want to add more realism to the fake snow, you can refrigerate or freeze it. The gel will not melt.  If it dries out, you can rehydrate it by adding water.

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Part II: Shaving Cream + Corn Starch
I found full instructions for this activity here.
  1. Start by letting the children pour some corn starch into a large container (and beware: this gets messy).
  2. I then dispensed some shaving cream into the bowl and let them start mixing with spoons.
  3. The substances resist mixing, so I found it easier to add a little corn starch and a little shaving cream at a time, mixing continually.
  4. When the two ingredients are well mixed, it sticks to hands a little less. At that point I spooned some onto each child’s plate or allowed them to dig in! I will admit that my first session was neater. In the second session, a parent helper allowed her children to spray the shaving cream straight into their hands!
  5. Allow the children to play and explore. Try to ask probing questions. (Though at this point, the excitement in our group had reached such heights it was hard to get them to refocus.)
  6. Here you have the option of handing out decorations for them to make snowmen with, or just to bury in the “snow.”
  7. If you’re looking at the pictures and cringing, don’t worry! The shaving cream wipes off with water, and when the mixture dries, the cornstarch is easy to vacuum up.
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