Nature Center Snowflake Study

Snowflake Provocations

In December, right before the Winter Solstice, I winterized the library Nature Center with one of nature’s exquisite cold weather wonders: Snowflakes. Learning about snowflakes, or snow crystals, is a terrific exploration of science, math, and art. It also doesn’t hurt that the craze for the movie Frozen has sparked even more curiosity into these teeny frozen fractals.

Snowflake Activity Center

So, what’s on this table anyway?  There is a sign with general facts about snowflakes and another about symmetry. Even though it looks like snowflakes are symmetrical, no snowflake has ever been found to be perfectly symmetrical. There are two interactive activities. I really liked this snowflake craft idea on Buggy and Buddy, but transformed the concept into an exploration in designing a snowflake using loose parts. Using a tray, a piece of black felt, and a collection of loose parts including pipe cleaners, gems, pom poms, Q-tips, and beads, children are encouraged to construct their own snowflake on the sheet of felt. I thought the temporary nature of loose parts was fitting for the activity. The other activity is a snowflake matching game using pictures of real snowflakes. Six unique pictures of snowflakes have been divided down the middle, and patrons are invited to match each snowflake that has been divided in half with its correct pair.  I created this matching game by googling pictures of snowflakes, copying them to a document, sizing the snowflakes so that they were the same size, printing them out, laminating them, and then cutting each snowflake down the middle.

Snowflake Bently Activity


Two books served as the primary inspiration behind the activities and also acted as the Nature Center’s resource materials.The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson is such an awesome introduction to the science behind snowflakes.  Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian, is a favorite picture book of mine, not to mention a Caldecott winner, and a wonderful insight into the temporary beauty and art of snow crystals.  I thought the kids might enjoy seeing actual photographs by Wilson Bentley, so I created the above flipbook featuring his photographs.


My favorite part of this snowflake study.  Finding snowflake designs left by kids. To me, they’re as magical as finding the perfect crystal star flake on your mitten. These are a few snowflake designs I’ve come across while at work that I happened to snap pictures of.  


I found this combo of matching the snowflakes with the snowflake design pieces this week. There have been two issues with the snowflake design activity. The first being that the pieces are taken on accident and on purpose. The second is that the Nature Center is close to the Bookmaking Station and a craft table, both equipped with glue sticks, and kids have made good on the urge to glue the pieces to the black felt. The felt has since been replaced with construction paper and it happens every so often, but whatever. No biggie. This is understandable, because the idea of loose parts is unfamiliar to most. Other than that, it has been a great addition. One of my coworkers relayed to me just the other day that a couple young patrons said the Nature Center was their favorite part of the library (instant prickly happy feeling). I was worried these activities wouldn’t be enjoyed the same way it had been in the fall, but it’s still going strong.

And of course, we winterized our home Nature Center.

Snowflake Home Activity

Snowflake Loose Parts Design

Actually, I set up our this snowflake provocation in our home way before I gave the library’s Nature Center a wintery makeover.  L was the one that had an interest in researching snowflakes and sparked the idea of setting up a specific exploration into snowflakes at the library in the first place. My constant source of inspiration. :)


3 Responses to “Nature Center Snowflake Study”

  1. Lois Burgess says:


    Hi Rebecca,

    I love your blog! I have been meaning to send you this song for ages!!! Hope you enjoy using it in your pumpkin storytime too. Happy Winter :)



  2. Tess says:


    Love this idea, where did you get the “Did you Know” and the “Snowflake Facts”?
    Is there a place we can find it?
    Thank you

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