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Snow Globes

Art
Time 45 minutes
Age 5 & up
Group Size 4 or more
Tags Gift, Holiday, Winter

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Children are getting fewer and fewer chances to explore with interesting materials—but few things spark creativity in kids more than a set of interesting materials and the promise of creating something wonderful. It is likely that most of your children will have come in contact with snow globes before…but also likely that none of them imagined they could create their own from simple ingredients.

Preparation

Gather materials for your students to include in their snow globes.  For suggestions on where to purchase jars and glitter online, see Suggestions in the “Make it Better” step.  If you have time, make a snow globe.

The small plastic objects and recycled materials will be used to create the “scene” that is placed inside the snow globe. These objects need to be small enough to stand up in the glass or plastic jars, and narrow enough to fit on the inside of the jar lids. And because they will be in water and other liquids, they should be made of plastic. Some non-corrosive metals might work too, but plastic is the safest bet. If you are having trouble finding good, fun objects for the snow globes, you can purchase cheap items online. See Suggestions in the “Make it Better” step for ideas.

Are all glitters created equal? Not quite. Many will work well, but some will float in water, while others will sink too quickly. Test your glitter out beforehand to make sure it does what you want it to do. For a suggestion of where to find glitter that works well, see Suggestions in the “Make it Better” step.

Snow Globes

Suggested Materials

  • 1 small glass or plastic jar per student (large baby food jars work well)
  • Water
  • Glitter
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Small plastic objects and recycled materials (See Preparation, below)
  • Pipe thread tape (5-6 rolls – found in any hardware store)
  • Dish soap (you only need a little)
  • Toothpicks (or plastic forks)
  • Spoons
1

Make it Matter

Opening Discussion

The instructions that follow are for making snow globes as an art activity. If you are working with older children and would like to challenge them to explore the viscosity of different liquids and the properties of different kinds of glitter that might be used in the snow globes, try the Snow Globe Science activity in this curriculum.

Ask your students if they have ever held or seen snow globes before. What do you do with them? What is usually in them? Record their list of what is contained inside a snow globe (this should include the objects that make the “scene”; a liquid; and “snow”). Tell them that they will be making their own globes out of simple materials. If they are unfamiliar with snow globes, show them the one that you made, and shake it up to show off it’s snowing action.

The Challenge

Make your own beautiful snow globe using the materials provided.

2

Make it Happen

Doing the Activity

  1. Distribute a jar to each student, and show them the objects/recycled material you have provided for them to create their snow globe “scenes”. Tell them that they will first create their scenes, then they can fill the jars with water and glitter.
  2. Plug in the hot glue gun (you should be in charge of this unless you are working with older children), and tell them that they will be gluing their objects to the inside part of the lid of their jar.
  3. Give them time to create their scenes. For younger children, have them bring their lids and objects to you to glue. They should tell you exactly where they want each object. Make sure they have tested to see if the objects fit by screwing the jar onto the lid with the objects placed on the lid. If the objects won’t fit, they’ll need to rethink their scenes. For older children, you might let them do their own gluing, but again stress that they test to see that the objects fit before gluing them on.
  4. Have kids tightly wrap some of the pipe thread tape around the threads of the jar—3 or 4 turns around the jar should do. The tape can be pressed down and will adhere to itself—this tape will provide a water-tight seal between the lid and the jar. Alternatively, kids could glue their jars shut, though this is not recommended (if they glue them shut, they can’t get them open again!).
3

Make it Click

Let’s Talk About It

While their glued scenes are drying, bring the kids together to talk about what they have created so far. How did they decide what objects to use? Did they create a scene from their lives, or one that they imagined? What should they put into their snow globes next? When they mention “snow” or glitter, ask them how much they think they should put in. Is it a good idea to start with a lot or a little? Remind them that they can always add more glitter, but they won’t be able to get it out if they use too much, so they should probably start with a little.

4

Make it Better

Build On What They Talked About

After their glued “scenes” have dried for at least a few minutes, have children put water in their jars. Then, have them dip a toothpick (or plastic fork) into a bit of dish soap and touch the soapy end of the toothpick to the surface of the water in their jar, so that only a little bit of soap gets in. This will help the glitter sink after they add it.

Have them add their glitter, but easy does it! Each child should start with just a little glitter, screw the lid on and shake the snow globe up. Are they happy with the results? The glitter may be clumpy at first, but that will change. If they want more “snow”, they can add more until they are satisfied.

Suggestions

  • This is a great activity for kids to create winter holiday gifts for their families. Encourage them to create snow globe “scenes” that have some meaning to the people they are making their snow globes for.
  • If you are working with older children, you can investigate the properties of the materials used to make snow globes in the Snow Globe Science activity in this curriculum. Students will explore the different viscosities of potential snow globe liquids; the properties of different shaped and weighted glitter; and which combinations make the most successful snow globes.
  • Large baby food jars work well and you can likely ask families to bring them in. If you would rather purchase jars, they can be found online at several sites. McMaster-Carr (click here to visit their website) carries wide-mouthed plastic and glass jars, both of which work well for this activity. If purchasing plastic jars, get the Wide-Mouth Polystyrene Jar, 6 oz; 2-3/4” Diameter; 2-3/4” Overall Height. If purchasing glass, try the Wide-Mouth Glass Jar Phenolic Cap, 4 oz; 2-3/8” Diameter; 2-5/8” Overall Height. Glass jars are more expensive than the plastic, though they feel much more “special”.
  • Several websites sell very inexpensive small plastic objects that would work well in these snow globes. In particular, Oriental Trading Company has a wide and cheap assortment.
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