Each year my school has a special Christmas/winter party and celebrates the upcoming break with a big meal and talent show. My art room is charged with a special duty during this time which is to decorate for the big event. One request for decorations is always snowflakes. There is a lot of learning you can incorporate while having fun with your students making snowflakes, including some math!
Here is one of my favorite 3-D snowflake patterns with a how to step by step instructions. Below each photo and instructions are some suggestions of ways you can incorporate math into the snowflake making. I have made these snowflakes with elementary, middle, and high school age students and all are always impressed with the result. Have fun making these with students!
- 6 or 8 sheets of white paper per student. I usually use 6 sheets of plain white copy paper per student.
- 1 pair of scissors per student. If you have the fancy edge scissors, those can be a bonus!
- Scotch tape
- Stapler - you can also make this with all tape but I find it easier to finish with a stapler.
1. Give each student 6 sheets of paper or have them work with a partner and give each student three. Choose one piece of paper to start with. Fold the bottom of the paper to meet the right or left side as you prepare to cut the paper into a square.
What shape did you just fold?
What type of triangle did you make?
What are the angles on the triangles?
2. Using scissors, cut off the extra flap of paper.
What shape did you make after cutting off the extra flap of paper?
What angles are in a square?
What two shapes make up the square paper?
3. Leave the paper folded in half into a triangle. You will need to make six incisions on your paper starting from the folded edge of the triangle. Those incisions are marked in red on the paper below. Make sure your cuts do not touch each other or your snowflake piece will fall apart!
Identify the parallel lines on your snowflake piece.
How many parallel lines do you see total?
Measure the lines and record your findings from smallest to largest.
Are the shapes you created considered triangles? Why or why not?
4. Open your triangle into a square. It should look like this.
What angles do the lines make?
Where are the lines intersected?
5. Using your fingers, pull the two innermost square corners together. Use a small piece of tape to secure these.
6. Turn your paper over. Pull the next two smallest square corners together and secure them to this side of the paper.
8. Flip your paper over a final time and secure the last two corners. Your piece should look like this. Repeat steps 1-8 with the remaining sheets of paper.
Is this figure symmetrical? Why or why not?
Does this figure still have symmetrical lines?
9. After you have 6 pieces completed, you can begin to assemble your snowflake. Line two of your pieces up together. You will staple these pieces in two areas marked with the red X below to secure them. Staple the two middle sides and the top corners together.
10. Add a third piece to the two you have already stapled and secure it in the same areas as the previous two. Your piece should look like this.
11. Staple the remaining three snowflake pieces in the same manner so you have two halves to your snowflake. After the two halves are complete, attach the two halves stapling at the same points on each side until your snowflake is secure. Enjoy your fabulous 3-D snowflake!
If you have any suggestions on extra ways to incorporate math into this lesson, please share your ideas below!