The Science of Snow

by Morgan Alber 6 months ago in teacher

Learning and playing in the snow

The Science of Snow
Fun in the snow.

Today we have a foot of snow on the ground and more coming down. It reminds me of a favorite science and art activity. This activity can be expanded into the outdoors and covers several developmental bench marks.

At preschool we had a large water table. If you don’t have one, a large shallow tub will work. I recommend it be placed on a table that the children can gather around.

Fill the water table or tub with snow. Then fill two spray bottles with water. Add red food coloring to one bottle and blue food coloring to the other. Or use other colors that mix to create new colors.

Show the children how to spray the colored water on the snow. Give them some spoons and cups and things to play with as well. Their little hands get cold easily so have them wear some mittens and gloves. You don't want to experiment with frostbite!

Talk about how the snow feels. Is it warm or cold? Fluffy or hard?

Talk about the two colors. What happens when the two colors are sprayed onto the same spot? Do they stay red or blue?

Add some more spray bottles with different colors so they can expand their exploration of color. It is okay if they spray so many different colors that they end up with muddy colored snow. It is all part of learning!

Ask the children what will happen if the snow stays in the tub or water table all night in the warm room. Write down their theories. on a big sheet of paper so they can see the words as you re-read them. This helps with spoken to written word connections.

The next morning take time to look at the tub or water table. Where did the snow go? How did water get into the tub? Add their answers to the theories you wrote down the day before.

Let them play in the cold water and add some more snow.

Expand on the idea of frozen versus melted water by freezing water overnight in yogurt containers or other plastic containers. Using different sizes will give them different ideas in their play and add more conversation as you talk about the different blocks of ice and what they look like.

Add the ice to the water table with the melted snow, some fresh snow and more colored water in the spray bottles. Another element can be added by putting slat in the spray bottles. The salty water will melt little grooves and holes in the blocks of ice while adding color to them.

The next step is to take some water and heat it until you have steam. A safe way to explore steam in the classroom is to set up a cool humidifier.

Now the children can see and experience the three states of matter.

Frozen water as snow and ice is a solid.

Melt the snow and ice and you have a liquid.

Heat the water to create steam and you have a gas.

It is also lots of fun to take those spray bottles of colored water outside in the snow. Turning the snow into rainbow colors is awesome! The children can build multi colored snowmen, paint their snow angels or just spray color around.

Using a spray bottle strengthens those little hands and wrists from squeezing the trigger. It develops eye-hand coordination by aiming the spray where it is wanted and it is fun. Using colored water provides a creative outlet and develops color sense.

Talking about the attributes of snow and water, watching the changes due to temperature and learning about the different states of matter is science.

Remember when talking with the children not to just ask questions, but to really listen to the children's own ideas and observations about what is happening. Let them make up stories and play with the materials. Keep it fun and creative. Children are very observant and will quickly notice all the changes happening to the water.

This activity covers science, art, physical activity, and fine motor skills all while playing with color, water, ice and snow and having lots of fun.

Take time to play outside in the snow. There is nothing better than first-hand experience! Just remember to bundle up because the children are going to want to stay out for awhile with this activity.

Happy snow day!

Please come visit my blog, Books, Bubbles and Blocks for more articles and ideas on Early Childhood Education.

Morgan Alber
Morgan Alber
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