Early Childhood

How are snowflakes formed?

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Early Childhood

How are snowflakes formed?

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You've probably heard that every snowflake is unique. But how is that possible? How are snowflakes formed? Keep reading to learn more and for information on how to make child-safe, sensory snow at home!

How are snowflakes formed?

Snowflakes are made of single or combined ice crystals that fall from clouds filled with water vapor. Water vapor sticks to very cold, microscopic particles of dirt, ash or salt in a cloud. The wet particles attract more water vapor and form water droplets. The droplets freeze into hexagon-shaped (6-sided) ice crystals. Additional crystals form on the outside of the center ice crystal as water vapor collects and freezes. These crystals grow faster on the corners of the hexagon-shaped center crystal causing six dendrites or arms to form on the snowflakes. The six main dendrites (arms) continue to grow smaller dendrites as water vapor collects and freeze on the crystals. As the crystal gets bigger and heavier, it falls from the cloud, continuing to form as it falls to the ground. This process causes every snowflake to be unique!

Make your own sensory snow at home!

You can make your own sensory snow at home with a few ingredients. These ingredients are child-safe meaning it's okay if they put the snow in their mouths. However, it probably won't taste very good! As always, please keep an eye on your little one as they play. P.S. This can get a little messy!

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 4 tbsp of water, separated
  1. Mix baking soda, sugar, cornstarch and cream of tartar in a bowl.
  1. Add 2 tbsp of water and whisk the mixture together.
  1. Add an additional 2 tbsp of water if your snow does not have a nice, fluffy texture.
  1. Place the sensory snow in the refrigerator until it is cold.
  1. After the sensory snow feels cool, it's time to play!  
  1. Add a cup, shovel or spoon and small toys (e.g. Arctic animals or other things you have around the house) to enhance learning.  
What are the benefits of sensory snow play?

Playing with sensory snow has a wide variety of benefits for your child. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a young child's senses -- touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Young children learn about the world around them through their senses. As they explore, their brains make strong connections that helps learning throughout their lives. It also encourages the development of motor skills, language skills and problem-solving skills.  

Here are a few questions you can ask your little one as they play with sensory snow. If they aren't speaking yet, you can use this as an opportunity to introduce new words.  

  • What color is the snow?  
  • What does the snow feel like? Is it hard/soft, wet/dry, hot/cold?  
  • How can we make a snowball?
  • What can we make/do with a snowball? How can we make a snowball?

Be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram when you make sensory snow and use #CDMathome!