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Holiday DIY Projects: Exploring Ice Crystals

Here is another great winter craft that incorporates several STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) based principles. Create an ice crystal. This activity is ideal for children between the ages of 16 months and 4 years old. Begin the activity by providing children several basic facts about snow. Facts can be very simple for a young child, 16 - 24 months, and increase in detail according to the age and interest level of the child. For children ages 3 and 4, visit a child friendly website such as Science Kids and Weather Wiz Kids to locate facts about snow. This is also an ideal way to help children learn to use technology for research purposes.

Remind children that during the winter months many areas in the world receive snow. Snowflakes are frozen ice crystals that fall to the ground. They appear white in color because they reflect light. Millions of snowflakes fall to the ground each year and the size of the snowflake depends on the number of ice crystals that join together. Each snow crystal has six sides.

Hands on Activity: Have your children arrange 3 craft sticks so they overlap in the center. They can paint the craft sticks white if desired. Let them explore different ways to arrange the craft sticks to determine how to create six “icicles.” Practice counting the six “icicles.”

Glue the craft sticks together at the point they overlap. On the end of each craft stick have your child glue a cotton ball to represent the ice crystal pattern. Cotton balls are ideal for little hands working on fine motor skills.

Ask older children to create a pattern on the craft sticks using glue and glitter. They can plan the pattern for their craft sticks on paper before creating their “icicle.” Sprinkle glitter on the glue pattern then shake off the excess glitter. After your child has created the pattern, have him or her explain the pattern to you. Children preparing to enter elementary school may want to explain their pattern using letters such as ABABAB or AABAABAAB. Elementary schools often encourage children to use this language when teaching the concept of patterns.

Your child may want to add a piece of string to their snowflake to hang it up in the window. Or they might want to glue their snowflake to a sheet of blue paper and add other snowflakes with a white crayon.

Want answers to more weather questions? Check out Weather Kids.com/Questions

Enjoy this wonderful winter weather!

Article by: Nicole Thomas-Jackson, Director of Curriculum and Training, Rainbow Station

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