Snowflake Bentley

Snowflake Bentley lesson plan

Six-sided frozen crystals fascinated Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley. See how he studied and photographed these delicate structures.

  • 1.

    At the opening of this lesson, ask students what they know about snowflakes, how they form, why they disappear, and what they look like. Document student contributions to the discussion on a classroom white board using Crayola® Dry Erase Markers on a classroom white board.

  • 2.

    Read Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin to the class. Ask students to comment on and ask questions about what they view in the illustrations. Allow time after the reading for students to reflect upon the story. Provide additional classroom resources on snowflakes, snowstorms, winter weather, etc. for students to investigate.

  • 3.

    Talk with students about the technology that allowed Wilson Bentley to view and draw snowflakes. When was the microscope invented? By whom? How did the addition of this piece of technology change the world at that time? When was photography developed? By whom? How did the availability of this technology change people's lives?

  • 4.

    Invite students to illustrate what they have learned about snowflakes and the technology that allows the human eye to see their intricacy. Using Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils, students draw a picture of Snowflake Bentley taking photos of snowflakes falling, perhaps outside a house or barn. Students may use their erasers to highlight the wood grain, draped cloth, or accordion-like folds of the camera.

  • 5.

    Crayola Fine Tip Markers or Gel Markers can be used to draw snowflakes falling. Encourage students to enlarge one snowflake to show detail.

  • 6.

    Provide time in the school day for students to share their illustrations in small groups, Display in a prominent place in the classroom.


  • LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • MATH: Draw and identify lines and angles, and classify shapes by properties of their lines and angles.
  • SS: Identify and describe examples in which science and technology have changed the lives of people, such as in homemaking, childcare, work, transportation, and communication.
  • VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.


  • Write simple instructions on how to create snowflakes. Several websites are available to assist you with this. Provide students with white construction paper to be used for cutting out snowflakes, each with a different pattern, using your written instructions.
  • Encourage small groups of students to create a precipitation poster illustrating what conditions in the atmosphere produce rain, snow, sleet, hail, and other forms of precipitation.
  • Invite students to investigation the inventor of the microscope.