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More Nature Activities for Kids

Big Learning in the Snow

For no-school snow days full of Big Learning

After sledding, hot cocoa, and a game we call "tired brothers arguing loudly," try these snow-based activities. They're fun, and even educational.

Look at pictures of really really deep snow : There's a gallery of historic snow photos at http://nsidc.org/snow/gallery .

Learn about record-breaking snow storms http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ussc/SCoptions110. Imagine a snowstorm producing 15 feet of snow in four days. Get out a tape measure and stretch it out 15 feet to give kids a real-life sense of that much snow - higher than the ceiling in most houses.

Is it true no two snowflakes are the same? http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/ Everything you ever wanted to know about snowflakes, and some pretty pictures too.

See how much water is in the snow: I always heard that one inch of water equals ten inches of snow, but the ratio actually varies. Get one cup of snow and let it melt, measure the results. Here's a site that lets you send in your data and compare it to what others have sent in: http://astro.uchicago.edu/cara/southpole.edu/flaky.html .

Try to capture snowflakes: You can make "snowflake impressions" by catching snowflakes on cold glass sprayed with cold hair spray, and then view the results under a magnifying glass. Here's a full description of the activity: http://www.learninghaven.com/crafts/articles/snowflake_impressions.htm .

Make the famous Maple-on-Snow candy
: If your kids have read Little House in the Big Woods, they'll remember this candy made by pouring hot maple syrup on fresh snow. Here's one of many web links that explains how: http://www.massmaple.org/sos.html . While this site recommends heating the syrup to 234 degrees, some of the other sites recommend 270 degrees. In either case, that's good math practice - using a thermometer to measure temperature.

Learn more ways to say how cold it is: Use a dual-scale (Fahrenheit and celsius) thermometer to express the temperature in both scales. While your at it, learn some common reference temperatures in each scale, such as water's freezing and boiling point, the indoor temperature in your living room, and normal body temperature. For example, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 degrees Celsius.

If you don't have a dual scale thermometer, you can look at mine on BigLearning.org:


Older kids can earn the AMS (add-multiply-subtract) method for mentally converting between Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures. The method is explained fully on this page:


Adults might want to learn it themselves and teach it to their kids - the text is a little dense for a kid but otherwise very clear.

Make a snow globe: This web page, http://www.kidsdomain.com/craft/snglobe.html tells you how.

Read Snowflake Bentley: "Snowflake" Bentley was a photographer who made a name for himself photographing snowflakes. There's a beautiful children's book about him, titled Snowflake Bentley. There's also a web site, http://www.snowflakebentley.com.






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