Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Catching Snowflakes

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated." ~William Bentley

Today was a perfect day for catching snowflakes. We were having a steady snowfall with big fluffy flakes. The little one fell asleep in her stroller on the walk back from the bus stop so I had a little more time to focus!
I keep a couple pieces of dark colored felt in our unheated garage for when the moment strikes to catch snowflakes. You could also use black construction paper, but I find the flakes kind of stand up against the hairy texture of the felt. In the same area, I also store a couple of magnifying glasses so we can delve deeper into our snowflake investigations. (In a pinch, you can also just use a dark colored glove, like in the photo above.)
Initially my son was less than interested today. So I just studied the flakes on my own, but my constant ("wow", "no way", "that's amazing") comments lured him over to check out what I was finding! Today the flakes were mostly in the shape of needles, columns, and even a few plates. We also made the discovery that if you catch the flakes on the cloth then view it while standing under the sled, that more flakes don't drop onto the cloth and disrupt what you're viewing.

We decided that snowflake catching was so much fun that we needed special "Snowflake Catcher Necklaces". To make these we took old CD's and covered one side with dark colored felt. On the other side I drew examples of a few types of common snowflakes and made a pocket to store a small magnifying glass.  (insert photo)
We also read the book, Snowflake Bentley, which tells the story of a Vermont man that dedicated his life to studying and photographing snowflakes. If you haven't read this book, you really should!

Another great website to learn more about snowflakes is listed below. Be sure to print out a copy of their "Snowflake Guide", slip it into a plastic sleeve, and take it outdoors with you on the next snowy day!   

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