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12 weeks of winter: Take a closer look at snowflakes

Starting to get a little cabin fever this winter? We've got a list of activities to keep you busy for the rest of Minnesota's longest season! Each week we will share a new nature activity for you to try in order to beat the cold and enjoy the great outdoors.

Make sure you bundle up and use your best judgment on those super chilly days—when the temps dip dangerously low, consider indoor nature activities instead.

Close up image of snowflakes

We've all heard that every snowflake is unique, but did you know that they can be categorized into several broad categories? As you can see from this Field Guide to Snowflakes, there are eight shapes that snowflakes can come in, but the two that we think of as having that classic snowflake shape are called dendrites and plates. 

Ready? Let's go searching for snowflakes! Get dressed warmly and head outside during or after a snowfall. See if you can isolate one individual snowflake and identify its crystal type. A dark surface, such as a black mitten or glove will help you to see the individual flakes. Sometimes it helps to pick up a handful of snow and sprinkle it onto a surface to isolate the flakes and get a better view.

Taking photos

If you have a camera with a macro lens, try taking close-up photos of snowflakes. If you don't have a macro lens, we found a few helpful videos that show how you can make one for your smartphone using parts from a laser pointer or a disposable camera


Amy Rager is an Extension educator based in Morris, MN, and oversees the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

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