There is more to winter fun than forts and snowballs. When you think winter, think science experiments. Teach the children about the elements of winter with these fun activities.
Fill a clean, empty coffee can three-fourths full with ice cubes. Sit the can on a water-saturated paper towel. Add enough salt to fill the can. Mix the salt together with the ice. Watch as frost forms on the outside of the container. Let your students research the Snow Crystals website as they learn about how frost forms in nature.
Snow flake investigation
If you live where it snows, head outside on a snowy day. Give each student a piece of black construction paper and a magnifying lens. Catch snowflakes on the black paper and investigate them. Let students learn that no two snowflakes are the same for themselves. To keep the snow from melting on contact, store the paper in the refrigerator before you head outdoors.
Frozen masses of ice slowly inch their way across some of the colder regions of the world. Fill a rectangular cake pan with dirt, sand and rocks to the half-way mark. Sit the pan flat on the freezer shelf and fill the rest of the pan with water. Let it freeze. Remove the pan from the freezer and sit it at a slant in a warm room, inside of a short, plastic pan. Students will make observations as the glacier “moves” to the end of the cake pan.
Snow ice cream
Gather a large bowl of snow and place it in a plastic bag that zips shut. Add one cup each of sugar and milk and one teaspoon vanilla flavoring. Zip the bag shut, expelling extra air as you shut it. Place the bag in a larger freezer bag. Add two cups of ice and several tablespoons of salt. Close the outer bag, again, pressing out the extra air. Put on winter mittens. Squeeze and squish the bags until the inner bag mixes well and freezes. Let students eat the ice cream as you discuss the scientific principles of the experiment. Shaved ice will give you the same results if you teach where it does not snow.
Winter storms are predicted well in advance. Help your students make weather instruments, such as this barometer, to make their own weather predictions. Wind vanes are easy to construct and use too.
Winter doesn’t have to be a time when you are stuck indoors because of inclement weather. Get out your science experiments and head outdoors today.