Explore Math with Paper Snowflake Art

Step 1: Make a paper square.

Step 2: Fold the paper into a triangle.

Step 3: Cut the folded triangle.

  • Counting. Count how many individual pieces of paper are stacked in the folded triangle (e.g., two if folded once; four if folded twice).
  • Shapes. Notice if the shapes you cut in the folded triangle change when you unfold the triangle.
  • Shapes and spatial relations. Cut a quarter of a circle along the edge of one folded triangle. Then ask children to predict what this “pie piece” shape will look like when it’s unfolded. Practice doing this until you unfold a full circle!
  • Making predictions. After cutting but before opening the folded triangle, predict how many shapes will result from cutting just one line or shape. “When I open this piece of paper, how many little triangle shapes will there be? How can we figure it out? Let’s open and see.” Then refold and continue cutting.
  • Size. Use different sizes of paper to make bigger and smaller snowflakes.
  • Counting and measurement. Figure out how many snowflakes you have room to hang in your windows by counting or measuring the space. What happens if you make the snowflakes bigger or smaller?

Ideas for Adjusting the Challenge

  • Show pictures of simple paper snowflake designs as examples (you can even use the ones in this blog post!).
  • Have children describe whether to add a line, curve, triangle, or other shape and how many of each to cut along each side. Then draw and complete the design together.
  • Draw shapes they are less familiar with (e.g., rhombus).
  • Create lines or shapes of specific lengths with a ruler.
  • Figure out if cutting a triangle will make a different shape when the paper is opened.
  • Answer the fun questions in this Snowflake Art Challenges PDF download.

Step 4: Unfold and enjoy your snowflake!

  • Symmetry. Sometimes snowflakes are symmetrical, meaning that if you fold the paper in half, the snowflake is the same on both sides. Depending on the design, there might be more than one line of symmetry on the snowflake. “Is your snowflake symmetrical?”
  • Spatial relations.What shape is right here in between these two triangles? How can we be sure it is that shape?
  • Size. “Which snowflake is biggest?”
  • Number.How many triangles are on your snowflake?”
  • Pattern. “I see a pattern on your snowflake. What pattern did you create? What comes next in your pattern?”

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