Snowflake or Snow-fake?

These resources are centred around students making snowflakes with 6-fold symmetry (real snowflakes always have 6-fold symmetry!) and not ‘snow-fakes’ – those with 8-fold symmetry, for example.

Equipment needed

Paper (you can use scrap paper to be environmentally friendly!) and scissors; you can also ask students to find and photograph their own examples of snowflakes and snow-fakes over the December period.

Curriculum Topics Covered

Geometry and angles; symmetry, rotations and reflections

Many of the snowflakes we see on cards, wrapping paper and seasonal clothing at this time of the year, are in fact snow-fakes.

The activities develop students’ geometrical reasoning and understanding of symmetry and are suitable for a range of ages from primary up through secondary.

The resources include: the warm-up ‘Snowflake or Snow-fake’ activity, a template for making snowflakes, a challenge to cut out increasingly more difficult snowflake patterns, a task that involves geometrical reasoning to prove that certain folds yield the 60 degree angle necessary for 6-fold symmetry and a video to accompany the resources. 

Further details:

The ‘Snowflake or Snow-fake’ activity can be used as a warm up activity to introduce the students to the idea that real snowflakes only have 6-fold symmetry, and all other snowflakes are snow-fakes. Can the students bring in photos of snow-fakes they find? 

The proof activity is aimed at older secondary students – it involves an undersanding of basic right angled trigonometry. The proof is revealed in the video below.

The video also includes an outline of how to use the template to make a snowflake, and can be watched in sections. 

Note: If you downloaded the ‘Snowflake cutting puzzles’ before Wednesday 13th December 2017 then number 5 is not possible! We have now corrected this on the worksheet. However, the older version could still be used – can the students explain why it can’t be done, and can they change the design to make it possible?