To help us become better informed on why snowflakes look the way they do, we watched an excellent BrainPop video describing how and why snowflakes form.
Then on a scrap piece of paper I had my students practice drawing a variety of snowflakes (I did one with them first on my document camera - then they went at it themselves). To start drawing their 6-sided structure, I had them draw a narrow "X", draw a line horizontally across, then add as much detail as they wanted (as long as they repeated the same thing on each side of the snowflake).
After drawing for a bit, I gave each table a sheet a reference images to help them develop some more intricate designs of their own.
The next day I had my students begin drawing snowflakes on a sheet of 9"x12" watercolor paper. Typically I do not use watercolor paper (solely because of the cost), but I knew this project really needed it to get fabulous results. I had my students draw their snowflakes as lightly as they could with their pencils and use rulers to help straighten out their lines. Once they finished drawing, they outlined their snowflakes with either white crayon or white oil pastel. I showed them an example of a snowflake created with both materials so they could better decide which they'd like to use (I personally would go for the white crayon because I feel like you can get more defined detail since its composition is hard wax). Most of my students needed one class to draw their images in pencil and half of another class to do the outlining.
Since I wanted all my students to be able to paint at the same time, I waited until the fourth class period to take out the paints. When we did start painting I had my students use saturated liquid glitter watercolors (because you know - glitter makes everything better). They painted their entire paper, then had the option of adding salt (we just used regular table salt) on top of their wet paint.
*The salt interacts with the watercolor paint the entire time it's drying to create some really interesting effects - so it's important to note that the final dried painting will look much different than when it's wet.
The next day when they came in, we trimmed off 1/2" from each side of their painting (to make it 11"x8"), mounted it on top of a 12"x9" sheet of white drawing paper, and then onto a 15"x12" sheet of black paper.
I LOVE these! Abstract watercolor painting is one of my own personal favorite things to do - so it was awesome getting to share this experience with my students.
Doing this project with my students helped me to come up with another awesome lesson using very similar techniques. Be sure to look out for the project post sometime in January (when I have a chance to do it)!