Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Six-point snowflakes- RES

'Tis the last school day before vacation, so it was time for a little fun and levity in the art room. The structure of ice crystals is radially symmetrical in six points, so I enjoyed teaching my fourth graders today how to fold their paper to make scientifically accurate snowflakes. Or at least, more so.

Now this is where art and science meet, because I am pretty sure this one above would be impossible in nature, because the structure, as I understand it, is built around a small particle in the center, like a bit of dust, and this one has no center at all. But it is still beautiful! If you have a minute to read more about it, the section on snow formation in this Wikipedia entry is totally amazing.  Did you know about cloud seeding?!

Back to the six point flakes: making them is as much an exercise in origami as it is in cutting.  Instead of describing it myself, I will let this excellent Instructables tutorial walk you through it.

 Now, I am not a purist, and yes, I let my younger classes fold the traditional eight-point flakes, but it is really worth noting that when the group is old enough and ready, that they are very excited to make these.  The pride these young artists take in their work is wonderful, and many students asked me to hang theirs in the art room (instead of bringing them home) so that their work would be on display to others in the school.

This technique also means that you never end up with the dreaded square snowflake, because if you fold it correctly it already will begin as a six-point star. Most of us have had the square flake happen many, many times before it got any better.

So don't despair, lovely, lacy snowflakes are in your artistic future.

Yes, the above one was made by a ten-year-old.  No, I do not use templates or patterns to make snowflakes in art class, although you'll find plenty of those online, and there is nothing wrong with them for practicing fine motor skills. But if you want to encourage your students (or yourself!) to make snowflakes as unique, as, well, snowflakes, try it without a template.

Hang them in the windows or from the ceiling. Make a garland.  Deck out a mantle or tree. 

Create something wonderful this season.
Happy winter!

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