When you think of snowflakes, I bet geometrical shapes aren’t the first things to come to mind. But because of the chemical structure of water, every tiny flake actually starts out as a hexagonal prism. Enter: snowflake geometry!
My curious kiddos loved studying the close-up images of real snowflakes and then recreating them using paper pattern blocks. Building snowflakes was a perfect way to introduce my 4 year-old to shapes like rhombuses and trapezoids and challenge my 7 year-old to create hexagons with various shapes while she worked on symmetry.
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To prep, we gathered a few supplies:
- Snowflake pattern blocks (below) printed on white cardstock
- Glue stick
- 12 x 12 piece of paper
- Muffin tin (optional but helps keep different shapes separate)
Making Snowflake Geometry
The books show how each flake starts out as a hexagon with some amazing close-ups of snowflakes.
Since the six corners of the hexagon stick out further than the sides, water vapor sticks to them and the snowflake branches out into six arms as it grows bigger.
Once we read about snowflakes and talked about their properties, I gave my kiddos a 12 x 12 sheet of paper and let them build.
My 4 year-old noticed many snowflakes had arms that weren’t the same size, so he made his snowflake with one arm shorted that the others.
After they had completed their snowflake geometry masterpiece, I had them count up each kind of shape they used to make their snowflake.
Both my 4 and 7 year-olds couldn’t wait to display their wintery works of art!
Have kids practice skip counting by 2’s or 6’s when they count up each shape.
See how many different ways they can make a hexagon with their pattern blocks.
Count the vertices and edges in the different shapes in each snowflake.
Make half a snowflake and see if children can make the mirror image.
Introduce the concepts of line symmetry (mirror symmetry) and rotational symmetry.
Grab Your Pattern Blocks
Ready to make a batch of shape snowflakes too?! Click the blue button below and then hop over and try our snowball shooters, too!