Let IT Snow: Lessons for Snow Days

Snow can close the schools but it can't put an end to learning. In between building snowmen, throwing snowballs and sipping hot chocolate, encourage your child to discover how snow forms and explore its unique properties. It's also a chance to explore meteorology and the science of studying weather.

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Fun with Snow

On a snowy day, the powdery white stuff may seem overwhelming outside. But if you're looking for a fun science experiment that you can try while staying warm inside, look no further than homemade snow. There are numerous methods for creating artificial snow that you can find on the Internet.

One of the most simple recipes involves mixing a tablespoon of baking soda and a shot glass full of water. You can also blend ice cubes until they resemble snow. More elaborate experiments can lead to more intricately created snow crystals.

Another activity is to teach your child about how the properties of water vary based on its chemical state. Have your child densely pack a small container, like a can or drinking glass, all the way to the top with snow. After moving it inside where it can melt, note how the water occupies less space than the snow did. This process can be done in reverse be filling a container with water and placing it outside or in the freezer; be careful to not seal a filled container, because the water will expand as it freezes and could break the container.

If you have a magnifying glass, your child can study the remarkably unique qualities of snowflakes. First, catch the snow as it falls on a dark surface, like black construction paper or even a black glove. Moving quickly, analyze the snow with the magnifying glass before it has a chance to melt.

Meteorology for Beginners

A snow day is a time when the weather is significant enough to cause a major disruption in people's lives. This makes the study of weather, or meteorology, relevant and interesting. There are myriad ways to approach this topic.

With older children, you can challenge them with a series of questions that will require them to research and observe. You can give them questions such as the following:

  • What temperature does it need to be for snow to form?
  • What separates an ordinary snow storm from a blizzard?
  • How do meteorologists predict snowfall totals?

With younger children, you can take a more hands-on approach. A fun activity involves measuring snow depth. Even for professionals, measuring total snowfall is an inexact science because some snow melts as it hits the ground, snow is moved by the wind and numerous other factors. With a ruler or yardstick, depending on the scope of your snowstorm, your child can measure the snow depth and note how it varies from one place to another, even within a small area.

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