Snowflake symmetry is an amazing learning opportunity for preschoolers when we’re stuck indoors during the cold winter months!
Yes, the snow is coming our way. We had some big, fluffy flurries in the air a few mornings ago, and I can almost smell the winter air when I walk outside.
Oh yes, winter will be here very soon.
I am always excited about winter coming, about our first snowfall, building our first snowman (excuse me, snowperson), all those wonderful winter memories.
But I would also like winter to last just a few months and then BE a memory.
Where we live, winter is a lifestyle I’m afraid. Close to half of our year is white. This gives us lots (and lots) of time after the novelty of the snow has worn off to be inside doing crafts and activities about snow.
My little ones love making paper snowflakes, and so do I – it is a great way to learn about symmetry for kids.
Find more snowflake crafts and activities here.
The thing I have found most over my many years of being a mom and a teacher, is that it is often the simplest things that can be the most educational.
Paper snowflakes are a prime example of that. The craft itself can be complete in a matter of seconds. Or, we can take our time, talk a lot, play a lot more, and learn a ton.
Here is how we learned about symmetry, and a bunch more, with our paper snowflakes.
On this particular morning, we were not at our best. My friend calls it the Halloween hangover. Whatever it may have been, I was really questioning trying to work any extra learning into our homeschool day.
Sam and Ben (4 and 2) have both been enjoying scissors and practicing cutting, so I thought a nice quiet craft might be just what was needed. And some coffee (um – lots).
I set Ben up with some long strips of paper and he happily cut away. I decided to do some paper snowflakes with Sam.
As soon as he cut one he became so amazed with the outcome I knew we could learn a lot with this simple activity, and introduce symmetry for kids.
And (I’ll just come right out and say it) that I would have a chance to drink some coffee.
So, we decided to do a little snowflake symmetry experiment.
A preschooler learning about snowflake symmetry:
I cut out 3 square pieces of white paper. We folded one piece just once and cut along the folded line.
Sam loved cutting out different shapes and would really take his time, unfolding each little shape that fell. When he was done, we opened it up to reveal one line of design down the middle of the snowflake.
Next, we took a second square of paper and folded in half and then in half again – so we folded it twice.
We then had 2 folded lines, so Sam cut along them both.
He was amazed to see that this time when the little shapes fell there were many of them, not just one, since we were cutting through many layers of paper.
When he was done and opened it up he declared it was much prettier than the first one.
I asked him if he noticed anything else and he stated [very matter of fact] that the first snowflake when folded looked like a cat sitting down, whereas the second snowflake when folded looked more like a duck drinking water.
Well …… I got myself another cup of coffee.
Then we folded the third square of paper three times.
This time it was too thick for Sammy to cut himself, so I cut the shapes out along the the folded edges.
When that last one was opened up it was time to do some investigating.
First, we looked at the number of shapes that were cut out of each snowflake. And the number of lines.
I asked Sam if he could tell which snowflake we folded the most and he could easily recognize it was that one with the most shapes cut out, and it had the most number of lines.
Next, we looked at the lines more closely.
We started with the snowflake that was only folded once. I pointed to one shape and asked Sam if he could find a match to it.
He could not. Each shape was different.
We then folded the paper back in half. We held that folded paper up to a mirror.
It looked exactly the same as when it was open! Amazing.
I explained that the mirror was the line of symmetry for these shapes. One half looked exactly the same as the other, just reflected. And then I poured a congratulatory coffee.
After, we looked at the other two snowflakes to find lines of symmetry.
These snowflakes had many.
The cut out shapes were symmetrical like the first snowflake, but also the lines themselves had symmetry.
And lots of them.
Since Sam is 4, this activity was simply an opportunity to explore the idea of symmetry. A chance to learn a new term and concept.
And a chance to play with this new idea.
It is only November we will have lots of time to play with snowflake symmetry. Loads of time. And it is actually a really good thing, revisiting the same activities.
Lots of learning still to be had with this simple one!
More fun ways to explore with snowflakes: