What Are Snow And Sleet?
When water freezes inside clouds, ice crystals form. The ice crystals join together creating snow flakes. Once the flakes are heavy enough they fall to the ground as snow. In addition to a normal snow fall, snow can drift to the ground lightly as flurries, fall heavily as a snowstorm, or pile up quickly blown by strong winds in a blizzard.
Sleet is a form of snow that begins to fall, but melts on its way down. It then refreezes in the air and falls covering the ground with a wet slushy mess.
A Snow Experiment
Even though snow is cold, it protects plants and small animals that live underground. Under the snow it is warmer than it is out in the cold blowing wind. You can check this for your self.
Gather two thermometers and find a snowy area out of direct sunlight. Place the first thermometer deep under the snow and lay the other thermometer on top of the snow. In a few hours compare the temperatures they show. Is one higher than the other? Why?
We think of snow as white and pure, but it isnít always white and is rarely pure. During the 1930ís when many houses were heated by coal snow was often gray. The coal dust was blown up into the snow clouds, discoloring the snow. Also in some parts of the country where the soil is red, the red dust blown into the clouds cause the snow to be pink.
Snow is not always the same size either. In Montana, in 1887, the largest snowflakes on record fell to the earth. Each snowflake was fifteen inches in diameter!
However, scientists agree that every snowflake has six sides. Still they contend that no two snowflakes are alike. Each flake is beautifully unique.
Sometime when it is snowing, wear a pair of dark mittens outside (black or dark blue work best). Take along a magnifying glass. Catch some snowflakes on one of your dark mittens then use the magnifying glass to examine the shape of each flake. Can you see six sides on every snowflake? Are any of them the same?
Some areas get only a flurry or two a year, other places people must remove snow to be mobile. The snow capital of the United States, however, is Stampede Pass in the state of Washington. Each year it has an average snowfall of 430".
Paper Chain Snowflakes
You will need:
- one 8 1/2" x 11" piece of white paper
- pair of scissors
Cut an 11" x 3 ĺ" strip from a piece of white paper. Trifold the paper lengthwise to make a square. Using scissors, round the corners of the square making sure you leave part of the folded edges in tact.
Fold the circle in Ĺ. Then fold it into thirds from the center point of the fold. This leaves you with a shape that looks like a slice of pie.
Now all along the edges cut out small triangles or other shapes. Finally, unfold the paper to reveal your paper chain snowflake.
A Stick Puppet Snowman
You will need:
- one or more white plastic spoons
- indelible marker
- construction paper
- scotch tape
Use the indelible marker to draw a face on the bottom bowl of the spoon. Then draw buttons down the spoon handle. Cut a top hat, baseball cap, or other type of hat from the construction paper. Use tape on the back of the snowman to secure the hat in place.
Now hold the end of the spoon handle so the snowman sticks above the surface of a table or box you hide behind. Have your snowman sing a winter song or recite a poem.
Try using ribbon or yarn to make a scarf. Can you create a snow woman also? Make a whole snow family and ask a friend to help you put on a puppet show.
Older children might like to have an adult help them use a hot glue gun to glue on the hat and sequins, small buttons, or pom poms for the nose and buttons. This will make a more lasting puppet.
Books About Snow
For younger children try:
- Amy Loves The Snow, by Julia Hoban (amazon.com has it )
- The Mitten, adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett. (amazon.com has it)
- White Snow Bright Snow, by Alan Tresselt. (amazon.com has it)
For older children look for:
- Brianís Winter, by Gary Paulsen (amazon.com has it)
- Wild Weather Blizzards!, by Lorraine Jean Hopping. (amazon.com has it)
- The Winter At Valley Forge: Survival And Victory, by James Knight (amazon.com has it )
- Snow Crystals by Kenneth G. Libbrecht discusses how crystals form in nature and in a lab, the shape, physics, culture, photography of snowflakes, and more.