Before inviting the children to create snowflakes we asked them questions about what they knew about them? After discussing that they come from the sky when it is winter time we introduced them to Wilson Bentley who was the first known photographer of snowflakes over 100 years ago. We read the books Snowflake Bentley and Curious about Snow in order to integrate the literacy experience with a hands-on experience. We passed around the images of the pictures he took while explaining details about snowflakes and learned while no two snowflakes are exactly the same, they are all six-sided hexagonal shapes due to the molecular structure of ice. The initial symmetry can occur but snowflakes are not all completely symmetric.
With that framework provided we set up a provocation with loose parts to let the children create a variety of snowflakes. We set out our loose parts (flat marbles and gems in different shapes) in our inspire me play tray. The children were invited to create their own unique snowflakes on different bases (light tables, mirrors, wooden cut outs, stencils, etc.)
When a child uses loose parts to create on drawn out images, shapes, or designs invitations, it gives opportunities to work on spatial awareness, exposes them to different forms of art, paying attention to detail, and enhancing their language skills as they communicate what they see or what they are doing. As they manipulate the loose parts to fit inside, outside, or around the designs they are enhancing their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and shape recognition.
Loose parts also provide unique inspiration, endless possibilities, challenge them to think, & encourage them to be creative with unusual things. This is not only a creative way to create from an artistic point of view, it is a way that encourages brain development, scientific experimenting, mathematical thought, risk taking, & trial/error learning. Through this kind of creating, children are really creating: using what they have and what they already know, and combining that to create a whole that’s greater than the parts.