Insta-Snow powder is a super cool material to use for exploring absorption, evaporation and polymers in this winter science activity for kids. This activity is also a great winter-themed sensory play experience for kids of all ages and a fun way to explore color mixing too!
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Have you tried Insta-Snow yet? If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s basically an inexpensive white powder (kind of like super mini sponges) that you add water to in order to create a snow-like material, and it’s always a HIT with the kids! You can use it for sensory play or use it as a STEM or STEAM activity perfect for winter. (It would also be super fun to do in summer to mix things up a bit!)
See the Insta-Snow in action here!
Insta-Snow Winter Science for Kids
Materials for Insta-Snow Science
- Insta-Snow Powder
- Large container
- Optional: Pipettes and Liquid Watercolors (These are our favorite.)
Directions for Exploring Color Mixing with Insta-Snow
This is how we used the Insta-Snow, but there’s so much more you can do with it. I basically let the kids go at it to see what observations and ideas they came up with.
1. Add a scoop of Insta-Snow powder to a large container. (We didn’t notice the scoop and used a spoon at first, but either is fine.)
2. Add some water to the Insta-Snow powder and watch what happens. It very quickly expands and turns into a snow-like substance.
Mix it and feel it with your hands- such a fun sensory experience!
3. Add some more powder and water. What happens? How does it feel? Describe how it looks.
4. Optional: Explore mixing colors with your Insta-Snow.
Place your snow powder into different cups.
Add a few drops of various colors liquid watercolors to each cup. (We used pipettes for this. These are always fun to have on hand for water play or painting!) Mix the color into the snow.
Combine the various colors of snow together. What happens?
Add all your colors together into one container and mix with your hands. What happens?
- This can get messy so we did the activity outside.
- The wet Insta-Snow can be slippery on hard surfaces so use caution if walking around.
- It’s easy to clean up. Once it’s dry you can sweep or vacuum it up.
- This particular Insta-Snow powder we used is a non-hazardous, non-toxic, environmentally safe polymer.
- You can use the powder over and over. Just let the water evaporate and save the powder for another use!
- You don’t need much. We just used a few spoonfuls of the powder and still have a ton left!
What’s Going On?
Insta-Snow is a polymer that soaks up water using the process of osmosis. When water comes in contact with the Insta-Snow it moves from outside the polymer to the inside and causes it to swell. The polymer can stretch only so far and hold just so much water.
When you are done playing with the Insta-Snow, the water will slowly evaporate, and the polymer will return to its original size!
Extending Learning: Even More Things to Try
1. Try different ratios of water to powder. Which works best?
2. Spread the wet Insta-Snow out on a tray. Predict how many days it will take to dry out. Observe it each day.
3. Add some loose parts of pretend play animals to the wet Insta-Snow for small world play.
Be sure to check out STEAM Kids book and ebook for even more creative STEM and STEAM ideas!