Insta Snow

In a preschool setting, we look for things that facinate and stimulate children. Well, Insta Snow does just that. I have been using this stuff for years. I attend the annual CAEYC conference for many reason, on of the top reasons being to buy my supply of InstaSnow. I always buy it from Steve Spangler Science because I am a loyal buyer. He was the first one who introduced me to this product, he keeps a reasonable price, and he always has a great deal of the conferences.

What is Instasnow? It's a super absorbent polymer! It holds lots of water basically. The fun part is in how you use it. I use this in a few different ways. First, I use it as a science activity. This is not snow, so I don't tell the children it is. I tell them that it is pretend snow. I live in southern California, and we don't get snow. It's great to pretend; but it would be a lie to tell the children that this is snow. They already think milk comes from a bottle in the store and not a cow; now snow comes in a jar? Nope! So, I don't use it in my weather activities, I use it in my "fascinating stuff" materials. The most fun in the science part is the observation. I either fill the cups with water and then put a scoop of instasnow into the water; or put a scoop on instasnow in the cup and add water. Either way, the observation is the watching the water suddenly turn into a solid, fluffy, mess of stuff spilling over the top of the cups. We count to see how long it takes to absorb the water; we guess how much it will grow in mass (will 1/4 cup make 1 cup?). I have also used colored water as well, but only once or twice.

I also use this as a sensory activity. Pure and simple sensory table material. Sometimes I add spoons and cups; or small animals; or even lower case and capital case letters (find the matching ones). I also sometimes just leave it plain and we just use our hands. Either way, it is sure to get plenty of use! When using just hands, I have had the children pat it down flat and then write names and shapes with their fingers, turning it into a writing activity. Insta snow is very versatile.

A few things to remember when using Insta Snow:

First, it is VERY slippery when it's on the ground. For this reason, I usually will lay down a blanket or some foam puzzle pieces. This way, when it does fall out of the table (and it will) no one gets hurt. However, I have had some very responsible groups that I just plainly tell them "If it falls on the ground, it will get slippery; so be careful and try to keep it all in the table and walk carefully."

If you have children who must put everything in their mouths, this is probably not for them. It won't really hurt them; this is actually the stuff they use in disposable diapers, so it really isn't bad for them.

Most of all, sit back and have fun! If they are outside, who cares if they throw it up in the air to make it "snow". I am all for telling the children the truth, but it they make it up I'm game for it.

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