Winter Science: Crystal Snowflakes

Rebecca Harris, Early Education Writer   •   January 23, 2019

Do you live in a place that's a little too warm for snowflakes? You may want to make your own. With just a few easy steps and materials, you and your children can grow your own beautiful snowflakes. Making crystal snowflakes is a great way to have fun indoors and integrate science into your child's life.
All the materials you'll need can be found at crafting and grocery stores, or easily ordered online. This project requires:
  • Borax (found with laundry detergent in most stores)
  • Colorful pipe cleaners
  • A glass or jar
  • A pencil
  • String
The first step is cutting the pipe cleaner into small pieces (about an inch or two long). Twist the pieces together in the center to create a snowflake shape. Be sure your snowflake will fit in the opening of your glass. If you're feeling extra ambitious, you can wrap even smaller pieces onto the ends of each strip to make the snowflake more intricate. Twisting and molding the pipe cleaners helps your child get creative and practice their fine motor skills.

Next, tie your string around the center of your pipe cleaner snowflake and the other end to your pencil. Make sure the length of the string allows the snowflake to hang in the glass without touching the bottom. Depending on the age and ability of your child, you might need to help them with this step.
You should then create the Borax solution. As this requires boiling water, it is highly recommended to have your child observe while an adult does the boiling and pouring. Add one tablespoon of Borax powder to each cup of boiling water. You can make as much of this solution as desired as long as the ratio remains 1:1. Then fill each glass or jar with your newly created solution. Hang your snowflake inside the container, making sure it is fully immersed without touching the bottom or interior of the glass.  

Once the snowflake is in place, leave it alone! I know it can be tempting for your little one to move the snowflake in the jar or stir the water around, but the container needs to remain still. For the best results, leave the snowflake for a full day. However, you will start to see results after just a couple of hours. After it sits overnight, carefully lift your snowflake out and set it on a paper towel for a few hours. This allows the solution to evaporate and leaves you with the best crystals possible.  

This project allows adults to introduce scientific ideas like crystal formations, chemical reactions and evaporation in a fun and exciting way. Integrating science and art into projects for your child allows them to learn visually and kinetically. Making winter memories while learning is a great way to spend a chilly day indoors.