Winter Science Craft Activities

By Megan Power on December 11, 2009
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

 "Oh the weather outside is frightful..." Well, it really isn't here in San Diego! Despite the difference in winter weather, we still love to get into the winter holiday spirit! Here are two of my favorite winter-themed activities that promise to engage your creative little scientists in the scientific process!

 

Crystal Growing Activity

 

 "Oh the weather outside is frightful..." Well, it really isn't here in San Diego! Despite the difference in winter weather, we still love to get into the winter holiday spirit! Here are two of my favorite winter-themed activities that promise to engage your creative little scientists in the scientific process!

 

Crystal Growing Activity

 

Growing crystals is one of my favorite science-based activities. I teach my students how to use their observation skills such as, drawing what they see, labeling, and writing about their observations at three different points in the experiment and recording their results. We learn about the scientific process and language by using words such as experiment, hypothesis, observation, dissolve and results during this activity. Follow the steps below to see how to implement this fun activity in your classroom.

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Materials:

  • Empty and cleaned glass jar (Wide mouth pickle jars work best. Remove label and write student's name on the bottom.)
  • 1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax for about 25 kids (This is a laundry detergent booster that can be found with other detergents at the grocery store)
  • Large coffee urn with hot water
  • Pipe cleaners (one for each child)
  • String or yarn
  • Plastic knife for each child

Basic Procedure/Steps:

  1. Give each student a pipe cleaner and have them create it into a shape. Many kids like to do a spiral and I show them how to twist it around a pencil.
  2. Have the students check to make sure their shape will not touch the bottom or sides of the jar. (It will be hanging on a small string.)
  3. When students have their shape the teacher will tie a small string or yarn to make it hang like an ornament. (This part takes a while and this can be done the day before you do the main part of this craft. Just make sure the string will not be too long and make the shape touch the bottom.)
  4. Pour Borax into each jar. You will need about 3 tablespoons to each cup of hot water.

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  5. Students need to carefully stir so the Borax dissolves. Add and dissolve Borax until the water cannot dissolve anymore Borax.
  6. 1st Observation: Students will draw what they see, label their picture, and write what they see.
  7. Next students will stir the water until the Borax dissolves.
  8. When it is all dissolved the teacher will hang the ornament from the knife in the jar. Before doing this the teacher might add more Borax.
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  9. 2nd Observation: Students record their second round of observations by drawing and labeling what they see. Then also write a sentence about what they see now.
  10. Leave these crystals to form overnight.
  11. The next morning students will come in and observe the crystals.

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  12. 3rd Observation: Students record their observations by drawing and labeling what the see, followed by a sentence discussing their thinking.

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  13.  
     
    Carefully take the crystals out and place them somewhere to dry. I use empty egg cartons written with students names.

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  14. Once they are dry, I dip them into varnish - easily found at any craft store. This helps to keep the crystals from falling apart.
  15. Wrap them up and give them as a parent present!

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Followup Instruction:

The students are amazed by the formation of the crystals. Students always think they are frozen like ice. You will need to explain the crystallization process to them so they understand the difference between that and freezing to make ice.

Here are some websites to help!

http://www.squidoo.com/grow-crystals

http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/teacherslounge/articles/easy_crystal_experiments.php

Adapt the Lesson:

You can easily change this lesson to use sugar and a bamboo skewier to make rock candy!


Warning:

This experiment craft is using hot water. Make sure students fully understand the directions and rules before doing this project. I tell my students they can not get out of their seats. It is important to show them how to hold the top lip of the jar with one hand and stir with the other. If the water is very hot, the Borax will dissolve very quickly. Try to get a parent volunteer in to help during this activity. This year I did this project without help and fortunately, my students did a great job!

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Snowflake Q-Tip Activity

 

0439449901_lg Follow-the-Directions Art Activities

This craft is adapted from this book. I love this book because the craft activities are very cute and I love how students need to read and follow the directions to make them. With this project, I decided to have my students figure out how to make a snowflake without the directions as a critical thinking activity. It also works on the scientific method of thinking where students form an idea, form a hypothesis, test the idea, refine their idea, and try again.

Materials:

  • Q-Tips
  • Waxed paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors

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Procedures/Steps:

  1. Give students a piece of waxed paper and place Q-Tips on their tables. Explain that students need to think creatively and follow the rules. They must make a snowflake and the Q-Tips can not overlap.
  2. Allow students to think and try to work it out.
  3. Students will most likely create a snowflake where the Q-Tips are overlapping in the center. Revise the rule about no overlapping.
  4. There is likely to be at least one student that asks if they could cut the Q-Tips. This is great problem solving. The students are allowed to cut the Q-Tips. I suggest the teacher cutting them as the are hard to cut.
  5. The students continue to build by looking at each others and adding to their snowflake.
  6. When students are finished squirt glue on the center of their snowflake. I did need to turn them around and re-glue to make sure they stay together.
  7. Take a walk around the classroom and see how different each snowflake is.
  8. Discuss there really are no 2 snowflakes that are alike. This is great way to connect to the ideas that people are all so different which makes them special.
  9. Examine real snowflake pictures at Snowcrystals.com. This website also has some videos of snowflakes growing and a lot of information about snowflakes.
  10. Students write about their snowflake.


 

I hope you enjoy these two winter science craft activities. They both promote a lot of great learning while at the same time making beautiful decorations. Please share your winter or holiday related craft ideas here. I hope to hear from you soon!

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Comments

Thanks for the great crystal idea. I also am excited to view the follow the direction art book. This could be very helpful and fun - yeah! Can you explain the rock candy experiment? Would you replace the borax with sugar (just plain sugar)? Mixing with the hot water and placing the skewer in the water directly? Thanks!

I am glad you enjoyed reading about those lessons. We had so much fun! That Follow Directions book is great. Scholastic also has a Nursery Rhyme Follow the Direction Craft book as well. I don't have that one yet, but it is on my list to get. With making rock candy you would use granulated sugar and a wooden skewer. To get the candy to the thickness you want you can leave it n the jar longer and/or repeat the steps by putting it with new hot water a sugar mixture. You can also add flavorings or food coloring to them as well. Let me know how it turns out for you! Smiles, Megan

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