Snow Lesson Plan
by Kerry Cordy
Every winter in much of the world, snow falls to the ground. Sometimes it falls in fat fluffy flakes, other times in raging blizzards. Does your town get snow? If so, find out how much is normal each year. Use this snow lesson plan to help earn your Snow Badge and learn more about the wonders of snow. Other badges you may wish to earn alongside might include the Winter Badge, Weather Badge, Natural Disasters (Avalanche or Blizzard) Badge, Water Badge or your Emergency Preparedness Badge.
What is Snow Made of?
What is snow made of? Snowflakes are made of frozen water crystals that form when water vapor condenses directly into ice without first becoming liquid water. When two frozen water crystals collide, their branches may become entangled and the two crystals will stick together creating a larger snowflake. Temperature also effects how snowflakes are formed. If one crystal gets slightly above freezing, it may form a thin film of liquid water. If it then bumps into another crystal that is at or below freezing, they will stick together just like your wet tongue will stick to a freezing metal flag pole if you lick it. When water crystals become too heavy they fall to the ground in the form of a snowflake. These flakes can range from very tiny to up to 3 to 4 inches. The NOAA website as a lengthier, more detailed description of how snowflakes are made it your curiosity extends further.
To Do: As part of your snow lesson plan, look at close-up photographs of real snowflakes. You can find some great samples on the PBS website. Notice how each snowflake has 6 sides in a symmetrical pattern and that each is unique. Try taking your own snowflake pictures and then draw your own snowflake. Start your drawing with a straight vertical line with an x over the center to give you the 6 branches of a snowflake such as the one in the image above. Draw a pattern on one branch and try to duplicate it on the rest.
States of Matter
It is important to understand the states of matter to fully understand how snow is created.
To Do: Learn about the water cycle with a simple experiment. Place ice cubes in a pan and bring to a boil on the stove. As heat is applied, ice, the solid form of water, melts and becomes the liquid form. As it continues to heat, it becomes a gas in the form of steam. Put a glass lid on the pot to see the steam reform back into water in the form of condensation.
Dressing for Snow
While snow can be fun, going sledding and throwing snowballs, it can also be dangerous. Learning the safety precautions in regards to snow and winter weather will allow you to enjoy the wonders of snow without getting sick or injured. Make sure to dress appropriately when heading out into the snow. This REI article walks you through how to choose appropriate layers when dressing for cold weather.
To Do: Compete in a dress for winter relay race to demonstrate how many layers are necessary to properly keep warm in very cold temperatures.
Cold Weather Relay Race
- Snow pants
- Snow jacket
- Wool socks
- Snow boots
- Knit hat
- Mittens or gloves
Divide kids into two or more teams with a “judge” for each team. For each team you will need a box filled with the items listed below in a large enough size for each contestant to put them on. On “go” the first team member runs to their box, puts on every article of clothing (buttoning all buttons and tying all laces, etc.) gets an all clear from the judge and then removes everything and puts them back in the box. They run back to their team and tag the next person who then runs to the box and repeats the process. The first team to have every member successfully put on and take off the clothes and return to their starting point wins.
Sometimes if people don’t dress appropriately, or stay out in the cold for too long, they can get hypothermia, which is caused by your body losing heat faster than it can create heat. Learn the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia. The Mayo Clinic has a great article to add to your snow lesson plan on how to recognize hypothermia and what to do for someone you think may be suffering from it.
Who is Snowflake Bentley?
“Snowflake” Bentley was famous for his photomicrography, taking photographs through a microscope. He was the first person to ever take a photo of single snow crystal. After taking more than 5000 photos of snow crystals, he never found two that were the same.
To Do: Read the book Snowflake Bentley by Jaqueline Briggs Martin or research Snowflake Bentley online.
What Causes Avalanches?
Learn about avalanches. What causes them? Read the Wonderopolis article “What Causes an Avalanche?”
To Do: If you live where it is cold enough and it snows, create your own mini avalanche. Cut a large cardboard box in half corner to corner to create your “mountain.” Set the box on the ground, point up, and wet it down. Let it freeze and then wet it again to get a smoother layer of ice. Leave the box outdoors until it is blanketed with snow. Now give the box a small bump and see if the snow slides off. How big of a bump is necessary for the snow to fall?
Snow Brings Out A Servant’s Heart
When it snows, there are always people in your community who need a little extra help to get by. Work on your Servant’s Heart award by volunteering your time to help those around you.
To Do: Volunteer your time to help family and neighbors with winter chores such as de-icing the sidewalks near your home to make them safer, shoveling the driveway for someone who can’t do it themselves, or is too busy. Use your arts and crafts skills to sew, knit, or crochet caps, sweaters, afghans, etc. for people in need of warm items. Hold a winter coat, food or blanket drive for those in need.
One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to make paper snowflakes to decorate the house. Like real snowflakes, no two every come out looking exactly the same.
To Do: Learn to make paper snowflakes with folded paper. To get you started, firstpallet.com has free printable templates to learn how to cut 12 different snowflake patterns. Once you get the idea, try making a pattern of your own. For younger kids, they also have free printable coloring pages with a variety of snowflakes.
Become a Junior Snow Ranger
Did you know that as part of the Junior Ranger program from the Forest Service you can become a Junior Snow Ranger? Learn even more about snow by earning your Junior Ranger badge for Snow Rangers.
To Do: Use the downloadable student booklet and teacher guide provided by the U.S. Forestry service to learn about snow and earn your Junior Ranger badge.