Experiment: Make Fake Snow

How to Make Fake Snow

We’ve been making fake snow, which is equally fun for kids like mine who celebrate winter under a sea of palm trees or those who are house-bound by piles of real winter snow.

How to make fake snow: a cool experiment with kids  |  Tinkerlab.com

Note: This post contains Amazon links for your convenience.

How to make fake snow: an experiment with kids | Tinkerlab.com

Supplies

How we did it

We started by pouring a small amount of sodium polyacrylate, or fake snow  into a large tub. This material used to make fake snow is non-toxic (although you wouldn’t want to eat it), and you’ll recognize it as the same stuff used to absorb liquid in disposable diapers. I picked up a small bag of “snow” at RAFT, but I’m curious about pulling apart a diaper to mine this fun-to-play-with polymer. If you try this, let me know!

I almost always fall into the camp of “you can always add more,” so we started with just a little bit. When I bought the fake snow, the woman working there joked about a desire to fool her parents by pouring the powder all over their lawn in the middle summer, only to be greeted by a sea of snow once their sprinklers went off. This vision sat firmly in my mind, so I poured gingerly, not knowing just how much the powder would expand.

How to make fake snow: an experiment with kids | Tinkerlab.comIt turns out that it does in fact expand, but nothing to worry yourself about!

one year old drawingMy one-year old was too little for this activity, and I was happy to situate little sister with an activity of her own. She was happy.

How to make fake snow: an experiment with kids | Tinkerlab.comA request came in for a spoon and a bowl to fill. The project is expanding! I asked N to describe the texture for me, and she said it was cool and wet. I agree.

How to make fake snow: an experiment with kids | Tinkerlab.comWorking side-by-side, I now live for moments like this.

Mix colors into your fake snow

How to make fake snow: an experiment with kids | Tinkerlab.comWhen playing with white snow seemed to run its course, I introduced Liquid Watercolors and a plastic pipette. I limited N to two colors (mostly to keep the crazy factor down) and she requested blue and magenta.

toddler sharpens pencilsMeanwhile, little R learned a thing or two about sharpening pencils.

How to make fake snow: an experiment with kids | Tinkerlab.com

This turned into a cool color mixing experiment. It was fascinating to see how many of the “snow” pellets absorbed one color or the other, and cast an illusion of purple when viewed at once.

Make Fake Snow with a Friend

How to make fake snow: an experiment with kids | Tinkerlab.comThe next day our neighbor, J, came over for another snow-making session. J likes a good experiment as much as my daughter does, and the two of them scooped, squeezed, stirred, mixxed and poured until they had to be pulled away for dinner!

What do you think? Will you try to make fake snow?

How to make fake snow: an experiment with kids | Tinkerlab.com

Resources

Learn more about how disposable baby diapers work from Imagination Station

Watch Steve Spangler demonstrate Intant Snow on the Ellen Show. I can’t help but smile at Ellen’s reaction to Steve. She’s hilarious.

Note: Use your best judgement and due diligence when using these materials with young children.

This post is shared with It’s Playtime

Comments

  1. says

    I would like to get some of this to try too! I love how you you had N add color to the snow and mix colors! BTY: Baby R is looking so big with all that hair! We just tried Water Beads and they are using the same idea (I think!) Ironically I mentioned Insta snow at the end of this post:
    http://www.thechocolatemuffintree.com/2011/09/water-bead-fun.html
    Great minds think alike!
    Love the video!
    Check this video out for the commercialized take on water beads (it is a little crazy!):
    http://www.orbeezone.com/

    • rachelle says

      my best friend just commented on the hair, too, so guess it’s been a while since i’ve shared pictures of her. and melissa, i saw your post and haven’t had a chance to pop over and comment on it yet, but YES, great minds think alike! i must get my hands on water beads!!! they look like a ridiculous amount of fun.

  2. says

    When this is so much fun to look at, I can imagine how interesting it would be to do. I like that you introduced liquid water colours. The photos are so bright and colourful.

    We don’t get anything by the name ‘fake snow’ but I will look for Sodium Ployacrylate.

  3. says

    When I taught preschool, I came across some of this in a cupboard. As a professional clown and daughter to two magicians, I know this material as slush powder. It’s wonderful! I poured about half the pack into our classroom sensory tub, added water, and for several weeks we had our own mini winter wonderland in our class. I threw in some scoops and some Arctic animals and the kids had a blast. What’s nice is if it starts to dry out a bit, you simply add more water! I love your idea of adding color; we didn’t do that. Would have been fun to do before I finally dumped it all!

    • rachelle says

      Slush powder is such a descriptive, wonderful name for this stuff. Good idea to make it the backdrop for a winter play scene. I’ll have to try that this winter when it’s 80 degrees here in California :)

  4. says

    I use this stuff every year. I can usually find it in big containers in every teacher store or in a small test tube at places like Kroger or Drug stores. It does absorb a lot of water. If you have multiple children playing in it, you should have them wash their hands first because it also picks up the dirt and looks dingy after a week or so. I found if you keep a lid on it, it starts to smell funky. It says you can dry it out and reuse it but I thought it looked too dirty and smelly to want to.

  5. Katie says

    Here’s the chemistry-teacher mom adding two cents…sodium polyacrylate will release all the water it has absorbed if you add sodium chloride–table salt.  It turns the whole pile of snow instantly back to liquid–kind of fun when you’re completely done playing with it!  And if you’re looking to retrieve it from a diaper, just cut some slits in the diaper (business side is usually easiest), put it in a large garbage bag, and shake-shake-shake.  You’ll have powdered snow in the bag!  (We used to do this to get the stuff for HS demos before it was so easy to buy.)

  6. Traci says

    I did this experiment today with my 2 1/2 -3 year old class we used disposable diapers….they were amazed that their diapers could make snow.

    • rachelle says

      How cool, Traci. I know that you can do this with diapers, but we haven’t tried it yet. Thanks so much for swinging back over to let me know how it went with your little ones. Cheers, Rachelle

  7. Kayla Curry says

    Ha ha, I accidentally put a clean diaper through the wash once (we keep the diapers just above the clothes basket and one fell in when I didn’t notice.) I threw all the clothes in the washer as usual and went on with the rest of my house work. I came back to move the clothes to the dryer and discovered a white/clear jelly substance stuck all over the clothes. I could not figure out what it was until I found the diaper. (facepalm). I then had to shake all the clothes off before putting them into the dryer, leaving the stuff in my washer. By then, I was fed up with it, so I took a break and came back later to find what I had been hoping to find. The water had evaporated and all that was left was the powder which was much easier to clean off.

    I think I’ll give this a try as a fun experience and not a messy one!

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