Winter is a time when we can easily see the structures of things. Bare tree branches reveal. . .
. . . the beauty of their fractal nature. . .
. . . which got us thinking about basic building blocks and structure. . .
. . . from the crystals in salt and sugar. . .
. . . to the ones in beautiful gems and stones. . .
. . . to lovely jewel tones that not only make great art, but can illustrate the scientific properties of liquids, solids, and gas.
Even when the world seems a little cold and bare, there's still quite a lot to explore!
Natural Structures: Winter Science Activities for the Whole Family
1. Take a walk outside and learn about fractals by measuring bare winter tree branches. This wonderful PDF Download takes you through the entire activity and provides a basic course on the amazing world of fractals!
2. Start exploring the basic building blocks of the world by learning about the microscopic structures of everyday objects and organisms. Look at leaves from house plants under a magnifying glass or a microscope. Play with sugar and salt solutions to grow crystals, or try your hand at growing crystals with this fun kit!
3. Explore the properties of liquids, solids and gas while making beautiful art with snowballs. While originally developed for artistic purposes, this activity also clearly illustrates how one substance can take different forms. Water is solid when in the form of a snowball, liquid as it melts on the paper, and then vapor (the gaseous phase of water) as it evaporates leaving only the pigment on the paper.
4. And finally, seeing as we currently have molecules on our minds, we couldn't help but dive into some building block fun with molecular structures as well. Using this awesome molecule building set (you could also use grapes and toothpicks or pipe cleaners and colorful pompoms) and this great molecule book we started looking up simple molecular structures like salt and sugar and began building to get a better understanding of how everything is connected. There is nothing like a hands on activity to really help boost your understanding of a complex scientific concept. Then to add to the fun, we made these printable Molecule Game Cards to play a game of Molecule Go Fish and more.
To make the game simply click on the image above for a full size printable download. Drag the image to your desktop or print from the page directly. Each page will print templates for 4 playing cards.
To start off, pick four different molecules (whatever interests your little scientists). Make those molecules into the different card suits by drawing pictures of the molecules in the center of the blank side of the cards numbering them like a regular card set up to the number 13 (we used the numbers 11,12, and 13 instead of Jack, Queen, and King). You would then have four groups of 13 cards, with cards like a "4 of sucrose" or a "6 of sodium chloride".
Use these cards to play a standard game of go fish like you would with any other card deck.
Alternately you could also play molecule trivia by making many different molecule cards with the molecule drawn out on one side and the description on the other. Players would then choose a card and have to guess the molecule from the drawing on the front of the card.
*Last time in Crafts and Activities: Jumping into January