Sunday, December 13, 2009

Perfect Snowflakes Every Time

A Snowflake Tutorial
I love making snowflakes and being the perfectionist that I am, I like them to be as perfect as possible. The other day another teacher in the building asked me how I get mine to look so good, so I let her in on my little secret - it's all in the tools...

First, gather your supplies: square sheets of paper (I just use regular printer paper that I square using the paper cutter at school,) a pencil, scissors and a protractor. Take it from me, protractors are handy little tools to have laying around. Go ahead and get everything. I'll wait...
Next, fold the paper in half so you have a long rectangle - sorry, no photo for this step. (At school we call this "folding the hot dog way.") Crease this fold well.

Then line up the side edges like you were going to fold it again - only this time into two squares (this is "folding the hamburger way," if you're curious) but don't really fold it. Just crease it - down on the edge that you already folded.
Lay the paper flat on the table and it should look like this:
Now, get out your trusty-dusty protractor and line it up on the little crease you just made. (If you haven't used one since high school, you can refresh your memory here.) Align the protractor so that the center mark is over the crease and the 0 and 180 degree lines line up with the folded edge of the paper - which should be along the bottom.
Find the 60 degree mark. Use your pencil to make a small dot at 60 degrees.
When you move the protractor, you should be looking at this:
Next you are going to fold the bottom edge of the paper so it touches that little mark you made. I use my finger nail to help me get the bottom to fold exactly where I want it to.
then fold so you have this, (See how the edge lines up with the dot?)
and then crease well. (Like my owl jammies? I often live in my jammies on weekends, but I digress...)
Unfold the paper and you should have a line that looks like this:
Now, fold the bottom edge from the other side over until it touches that fold you just made. Again, use your nail to keep that bottom point nice and crisp.
When you unfold, you should have a V in the center of the paper.
Fold the paper back up along the folds you made. My students call this step "making a heart" because they think the folded piece looks a little like a heart.
Take that heart shape and fold it in half. Again, use your nail to help keep the bottom point looking good.
The top edges of the paper will not be even so you need to trim them. Use your scissors to trim away the uneven edges. The dotted line in the photo below is where I cut.
This is what you should be looking at:
Now comes the fun part. Use your scissors to cut away parts of the triangle to create your snowflake. Be careful not to cut away an entire edge. If you do, you'll get several pieces of paper instead of one flake.
Keep cutting until you are happy.
I like to experiment with straight lines as well as curves. When you are all done unfold your snowflake and bask in its beauty and almost perfect 60 degree rotational symmetry. Now go back and fold about 10 more because they're addictive...
If anything isn't clear to you, please let me know. Since I am a math teacher there may be directions here that make perfect sense to me but are unintelligible to you. If that's the case, email me or leave a comment and I'll edit the tutorial to make it more clear. Now, go make a flake!

16 comments:

Allie said...

Great tutorial - I'd forgotten how to do this! I love the snowflake in the top picture.

Nanci said...

Liz,

What a great tutorial and I would love to see the folded version of the "tree" snowflake at the beginning, it is wonderful!

Mum-me said...

Lovely - we may make snowflakes this weekend, if my children remember to bring their protractors home from school.

Sew Bee It said...

I agree that the tree snowflake is amazing! I remember making snowflakes to decorate for our first Christmas; I did a few with the kids last year but I think this year I'll be doing a bunch more. Thanks for the reminder of how great they are!

Sam said...

Beautiful snowflakes - obviously bold cuts make a big difference. Great tutorial - I've only ever started with folding into a triangle, and I'm usually too lazy to go and get the protractor, but now I will :-)

Can't wait, going to fold!

Bree said...

Well now I have to go buy a protracor, Liz! We're going to Arkansas after Christmas to visit the grandkids, and I am going to be a great snowflake-maker by then. Thanks!

Erin said...

I'm putting this page in my favorites. I will definitely be making some snowflakes as soon as I finish my last quilt for Christmas. I'm in the home stretch.

Anna said...

I've never seen a snowflake tutorial as good as this one! Very inspiring.

Brigide said...

Wow. I tried to make one of these with my son the other day....let's just say that it didn't turn out anything like these little beauties.

susan said...

that is really kool. i am going to try and make one (?!!) can possible only make one or are they like lays potatoe chips, cant just eat one. mark doesnt want to get a tree this year...sad face...will have to see about this weekend. i dont need a big one, even a little bitty one would be nice. i could plaster the big window with snowflakes...speaking of snow...it sure has finally arrived. how are you doing on the island. i dont know what is wrong with the road commissions but they sure are not on the ball this year. the roads ar absolutely trecherous, and i have to drive to marquette tomarrow a.m. leaving about quater to 7..........hope it doesnt snow while i have to drive.

The WoodLand School said...

Fabulous tutorial! Thanks so much for the inspiration :-)

MissC said...

May I come to your class and play? I think I would learn more about math and design...

Absolutely wonderful!

Molly @ Star Cottage said...

I haven't been by to check out what you've been up to in a while. These are so cool. Mine always come out all wonky. Thanks for the tutorial.

Rene said...

Nice tut, and very nice photos! I do these with my class of adult ESL learners every December. We are in the Los Angeles area and most of my students are from Mexico and Central America so this is quite new to them! I use the activity to teach 'fold', 'crease', 'cut', 'edge', etc. But we aren't as fancy as you - no protractors!! Just "fold this side about halfway across and fold the other side against it"! I will share this blog entry with them next year!! ;-)

Tammy said...

Liz,

What a great blog. I randomly landed on your site and spent way too much time reading several of your craft tutorials. I used to make the Christmas card ornaments with my kids when they were small. Thanks for the reminder! You have another fan...and follower! Gammy/Tammy

Carissa Peck said...

Very precise! I don't think I ever used a protractor when making my snowflakes...then again they never turned out as pretty as yours.

I am just commenting here as a heads up for anyone who is planing on making a snowflake in the next few days. Maybe you would also consider making one for Sandy Hook? The school has asked for donations of snowflakes to decorate the new building the students will enter in January. If you have a chance to make just one more snowflake you may like to look into it. http://eslcarissa.blogspot.com/2012/12/send-snowflakes-to-sandy-hook.html