Snowflake Bentley, Story and Activities

Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin is a book I happened upon at the library.  It’s a non-fiction book actually, but told in story-book fashion about a boy named Willie Bentley who was fascinated with snowflakes.  As a child he would catch the snowflakes and attempt to draw them on paper before they melted.  Eventually his parents bought him a microscope camera to photograph the snowflakes.  Can you imagine trying to photograph a snowflake using an 1882 camera!?!  I’m sure we’d all have trouble with our modern DSLRs! Amazingly, he stuck to his goal.  He held slideshows for townspeople to come see his photographs which were eventually published in a book called Snow Crystals that is used by colleges and universities. His fascination led to the discovery that all snowflakes are unique. 

Throughout the book there are sidebars with extra facts about snow, William Bentley and his work.  I’m so glad I came across this book.   We used it to kick-start a discussion about snowflakes, photography, persistence, dedication and a job well-done.

Here’s a couple activities we did to go along with the book:

1. Snowflake matching –  I googled Snowflake Bentley photographs and printed out two copies of the same photos.  At first I presented 3-4 to match at a time since you have to really examine some to find the differences.  As he got better, he could match more at a time. 

2. Snowflake puzzle – I cut some of Bentley’s photos in half, mixed them all up and J found the two symmetrical sides to join together and create a snowflake.  This was a great way to emphasize the meaning of symmetrical.  These 2 activities really met J’s current ability level since I could easily make the level of difficulty was just right for him by picking and choosing the snowflakes to match.

Age attempted: 33 months; you could go into so much more detail for older kids and increase the difficulty of the activities by using snowflakes that are more similar in comparison

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