young girl holding paper snowflakes
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How to Make Classic Paper Snowflakes

Feb 22, 2018

Did you know that in Canada's North, arctic temperatures mean that it is nearly impossible to make a snowball? That is to say, the snow up North — in places like Ivvavik National Park in the Yukon, for example — is rarely damp enough to stick together (the kind of snow you really have to trudge through), but it does pack down so well that you can literally walk on top of it, or cut out blocks – which is how northern Indigenous communities have been making traditional igloos for centuries!

No matter where you are in Canada, North or South, East or West, the good news is that everyone can still have fun in the snow, whether you go tobogganing or skating, or whether you just like to make snow angels. Next time you’re out with the kids during a snowfall, see if you can catch some snowflakes on your mitts.

Did you know that snowflakes always form into six points? Sometimes snowflakes can stick together, making twelve points, or they can break during fall, and have only three or four. Having your little one count the points can be a good way to take a closer look at these little crystals.

And after you've done a bit of discovery, you can make them at home.


Make Your Own Paper Snowflakes

What You'll Need:

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil or pen (optional)

How It's Made:

Start by squaring your piece of paper, either by measuring or by folding one corner diagonally across the sheet until the edges line up.

Next, trim the excess paper. 

Fold this triangle in half again to make a smaller triangle.

Lay your triangle so the longest side of your triangle (the base) is on the left, and the tip of your triangle is on the right. Mentally draw a line from the centre of the base to the tip, and that is your centre point.

Keeping your centre point towards the right, take one edge of your triangle and fold it over until it just passes the middle.

Then, take the other edge of your triangle, and fold it so that it covers the previous fold you made.

Cut off the top of the folded paper at an angle. This angle will make the six points of your snowflake when unfolded.

Now for some creativity! Either trace a design with a pencil or simply start cutting as you please. Some children may require help with this, as the folded paper can be thick to cut through. 

Note: You will need to leave some parts of your edge uncut, otherwise your snowflake will fall apart when you unfold it.

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: unfold your snowflake, and take a look at what you’ve created!

This project was devloped by the staff at Ivvavik National Park, which is in the northwestern corner of the Yukon. The park stretches over nearly 1,000 square kilometres of land, but has no designated trails. For the lucky 100 or so visitors to the park each year, this means almost endless hiking possibilities! “Ivvavik” comes from the Inuvialuktun for “nursery," in reference to the calving grounds of the porcupine caribou protected within the park. You’ll have to forget driving by for a visit though — try flying in instead!

For the local Inuvialuit, the ground’s permafrost (just what it sounds like — layers of soil or rock that stay frozen permanently) is especially important. In the summertime, the layer of earth above the permafrost (the active layer) will thaw, and snow and ice will melt, but the permafrost underneath will not allow the water to drain. This transforms the ground into a spongy, boggy landscape. Winter temperatures are essential in hardening that layer again, making day-to-day living (for example, hunting and trapping) and travel possible.

Article Author Club Parka, Parks Canada
Club Parka, Parks Canada

Club Parka is a Parks Canada program for preschoolers at national parks and historic sites across the country. Kids can take part in the program online, too!

Visit parkscanada.gc.ca/Parka to download activity pages and get to know Parka, the busy little beaver who helps kids explore the world around them.

You can watch Parka weekday mornings on CBC TV following each episode of Chirp.

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