Let’s be honest here, our Chicago winter is lacking in the snow department this year, and the kids are complaining! There has not been enough snow to make a snow-child, much less a snowman. My boys are disappointed. They have their snow pants hanging in the closet, waiting for the day they can pull them on and go out and frolic in the snow. It doesn’t hurt that playing in the snow is also the most entertaining FREE thing to do with your kids in the winter, and so on a buy-nothing-new budget, we’re missing the snow too! This weekend, we had a winter storm that just consisted of sleet and then freezing rain. NO SNOW AGAIN! So, the boys and I hunkered down indoors with hot cocoa and made some of our own snowflakes.
I came across this science experiment when doing research for my seven-year-old’s science-themed birthday party last year. Thanks to the folks at Science Kids for this experiment and many other really cool ones! This project is good for kids about five and up, as it does call for boiling water, which is wee bit dangerous with a two-year-old around. So, if you have a little one, you might want to wait until nap time to do this with the older kids!
You’ll need the following supplies, all of which we already had on hand, and you probably do too!
- String or yarn
- Wide mouth jar (one for each snowflake you want to make)
- Pipe cleaners (lighter colored ones probably work better than dark, though we used what we had on hand, metallic blue and green ones)
- Food coloring (this is optional, and really probably won’t make much of a difference unless you are using lighter colored or white pipe cleaners)
- Boiling water to fill the jars
- Borax (a natural laundry detergent booster that can be found in any grocery store near the laundry detergent)
- Pencils or chopsticks
- Cut your pipe cleaner into three equal pieces. Twist the three pieces together in the middle, to make a six-sided star, which will be the frame of your snowflake.
- Attach your piece of string or yarn to the top of one of the arms of your snowflake. Dangle your snowflake into the jar where it touches the bottom. Now, tie the other end of the string to your pencil or chopstick. Remove the snowflake and put it to the side.
- Fill the jar with boiling water until it will cover the snowflake.
- Add three tablespoons of Borax to each cup of water in the jar. Add food coloring at this stage if you want, and stir.
- Place your snowflake back into the jar, resting the chopstick or pencil on top of the jar. Set it aside and let it turn into a snowflake overnight!
- Pour the liquid out the next morning and let the snowflake drip dry in the jar. You can then hang it anywhere you want!
When your kids get up the next morning, they will discover, to their amazement, that their snowflakes will be covered with crystals! They’re really beautiful (the pictures don’t do them justice), and the experiment is very easy and most importantly, FREE!! Happy Snowflaking!