BERLINSKY COLUMN: Snow Day - Make your own ice crystals

Even if you live in Charleston where it rarely, if ever, snows you can still create frosty winter memories with some imagination and these snowy activities.

One of my favorite childhood memories is captured in an old photograph Iíve cherished for years. It was taken outside my grandparentís home in upstate New York when I was 5 or 6 years old. Iím peeking out of an igloo-style snow fort, parka hood tightly pulled around my chilled face. My two teenage aunts spent hours building and perfecting the icy walls we inhabited that afternoon. I consider myself lucky to have so many wonderful winter memories of bigger-than-life snowmen, neighborhood snowball fights and sledding down steep, slippery hills. Thereís something mystical and magical about snow.

When it snowed in the middle of the night a few years ago, I woke up my then-toddler children to go outside and build snowmen. My friends told me later I was crazy for waking up sleeping children, but I needed them to experience a snowfall, and I didnít want to risk the snow being gone when they woke up so we bundled up and headed outside at 2 a.m. While there was not nearly enough snow to build a fort, we were able to roll tiny little snowmen that stood randomly, wherever we could gather enough snow, all over our yard until a few hours later when the morning light melted them away. I took lots of pictures of them rolling the snow, catching snowflakes on their tongues, and patting the snowmen into shape. Iím satisfied that one day they will reflect back on that early dark morning when we were caught up in the excitement of freshly fallen snow.

Whether it snows this month or not, you can still create the magic of snow and snow crystals with a little imagination.

Snowflakes are really just ice crystals that are formed in the clouds. Hereís a great recipe for making your own ice crystals.

Directions

Cut pipe cleaners in thirds and then use the three pieces to form a six-sided flake. Tie together with string and then weave more string between the snowflake arms. Be creative and have fun with it because no two snowflakes are the same. The more string, the more surface area for the crystals to form. When done, tie another piece of string to the center and then tie the other end to a pencil or ruler. This is going to be the bar that holds the snowflake in the jar or glass. Measure so that the snowflake doesnít touch the bottom.

Boil some water and pour 1 cup into the jar or glass. Mix one tablespoon of Borax into the boiling water and stir until dissolved.

Rest the snowflake in the water/Borax solution and let sit overnight. The crystals will form while youíre sleeping, just like a snowfall during the night!

If you want to make snowmen, snowballs or tiny snow forts, purchase a can of Insta Snow from Steve Spangler Science. The powder expands and becomes cold when you add water so you can experience hours of fun playing in the snow in your very own home. For more information visit www.stevespanglerscience.com/category/instant-snow.com.

Robin Berlinsky

Robin Photo

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