Appearing Snowflake: A Winter Activity for Kids


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My husband and I met in college, both pursuing mechanical engineering degrees. Little did I know, he was also a very talented artist. He actually started college in fine arts, then transferred to engineering the same year I started college. Now he dabbles in his art after his full time job and being a dad, taking on commissioned work from time to time. In one of his recent pieces, he used the properties of water to create a specific effect. His art inspired me to create a quick and fun winter activity for kids, one where my kids could explore and play with properties of water. And paintballs! Because what kid doesn’t love paintballs?

Winter activity for kids to explore how water reacts to wax and paper.

Fun & Quick Winter Activity for Kids

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Supplies

How to do our snowflake winter activity!

Step 1: Cut the block of clear wax into 1 inch strips.

Step 2: Draw snowflakes on the watercolor paper, using one of the clear wax strips. Here is a pattern for the snowflake:

Winter activity for kids to explore how water reacts to wax and paper.
Winter activity for kids to explore how water reacts to wax and paper.




Step 3: Tape or nail the watercolor paper to your fence. Our tape wouldn’t stick to the fence, so we ended up nailing the tape to the fence.

Winter activity for kids to explore how water reacts to wax and paper.

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Step 4: Throw the goblies at the paper, and watch as the snowflakes start to appear!

Winter activity for kids to explore how water reacts to wax and paper.

Tip: Peel the goblies’ capsules off the paper before the paint dries. This will allow the paint to drip all the way down the paper, revealing the snowflakes completely.

Winter activity for kids to explore how water reacts to wax and paper.




Step 5: Carefully remove the watercolor paper off the fence, and bring it inside to dry completely. Here is what our creation looked like!

Winter activity for kids to explore how water reacts to wax and paper.

The Science Behind our STEAM Winter Activity!

Why couldn’t we see our snowflakes one minute, but then when we added paint we could. The key is in how the wax reacts to water. Wax is hydrophobic (which literally means fear of water), and repels water whenever water touches it. The Goblies paintballs are made of pigment (which gives them the blue color) and water. So when the goblies explode, and their paint drips onto the wax, the paint isn’t absorbs and just rolls on past the wax.

On the other hand, when the paint touches watercolor paper, it is absorbed, changing the paper’s color to blue. Watercolor paper not hydrophobic, but is hydrophilic, which literally means water friendship. When something is hydrophilic, it absorbs water, which is usually clear. But the goblies have blue pigment (or color) added to them, so the paper absorbs both the water and the blue pigment, changing the paper to blue.

Because of the hydrophobic nature of wax, and hydrophilic property of paper, throwing the goblies at our paper reveals our snowflakes, previously unseen without the paint!

What other things can you think of that are hydrophobic? How about hydrophilic? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Did you enjoy this activity? You’ll love my other activities for kids!

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