Monday, November 18, 2013

Cotton Swab Snowflake Symmetry Activity

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The Bright & Quirky Summit starts March 8th!

Simple cotton swab snowflake symmetry activity for toddlers and preschoolers. It's a great way to explore symmetry with kids!

One classic winter activity that I know I did as a child was make snowflakes using cotton swabs. You probably did too. That's the inspiration for this symmetry activity.

Taking the idea of creating snowflakes out of cotton swabs and putting them into our DIY mirror box (instructions and details below) was such a fun twist. It turned out to be such a fun and engaging activity for exploring symmetry.

Snowflake symmetry activity for kids

Snowflake Math Activity: What You'll Need

For this activity, you'll need: 

  • A DIY mirror box (details below)
The mirror box was super easy to make. I used three square acrylic mirrors that I purchased at the dollar store for either $1.50 or $2. I can't quite remember how much they were, but they were cheap. Then I followed The Imagination Tree's instructions.

Exploring symmetry by making cotton swab snowflakes

Snowflake Symmetry Activity

Since snowflakes are the inspiration for this activity, it only made sense to set up the mirror box on the ledge by our front window so that J could see the snow out front while he played. I also set out a cup of cotton swabs. Most of the cotton swabs were full length, but I had also cut some in half.

J started placing some of the cotton swabs on the mirror box, watching how they would transform as he placed them in the mirror box.

Exploring symmetry in a mirror box by creating cotton swab snowflakes

J kept adding more and more cotton swabs to the mirror box, eventually realizing that he was making symmetrical snowflakes.  He would stop every so often to count the number of points on his snowflakes too. 

Now we're reached the point where the snowflake enthusiasts start attacking me, going on about snowflakes only having six sides or points. 🙄 Remember this is an activity for kids about exploring symmetry, not about making perfect snowflakes. Okay? The fact that I even have to add this little disclaimer is annoying, yet here we are.

Anyway, back to this symmetry activity...J started adding more and more cotton swabs to see what would happen.

Creating cotton swab snowflakes and exploring symmetry in a DIY mirror box for kids

As you can see, his snowflakes started to become quite intricate and detailed. And he still paused every so often to count the number of cotton swabs that he could see. It's what a kid with hypernumeracy likes to do.

Snowflake math and science activity for kids

Exploring symmetry with cotton swab snowflakes in a DIY mirror box

And that's it! A quick and simple way to explore symmetry inspired by snowflakes.

Other Activities You'll Love

This post is part of a series called Light and Reflections. Here are some other posts from my series co-hosts:

Bubbling Color Mixing on the Light Table from Where Imagination Grows

Explore symmetry by making cotton swab snowflakes in a DIY mirror box with this simple preschool symmetry activity


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The Bright & Quirky Summit starts March 8th!


  1. I love that you set up the activity near the window. Seeing him looking out at the snow just brings it all together. I wish we had snow where we lived! This is so brilliant, Dyan. Pinning :-)

    1. Well, you are welcome to come borrow some of our snow anytime you want ;)

      And thanks for the lovely comments!

  2. I need to check our dollar store for square mirrors so we can try this out! His snowflake is beautiful! :)

  3. I think this is so clever. can't wait to try it.