Snowflake Bentley

Snowflake Bentley lesson plan

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

  • 1.

    Read <EM>Snowflake Bentley</EM> to learn about photographer and self-made scientist Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley. He discovered the uniqueness of each snowflake while taking photographs of them through a microscope, a technique now known as microphotography.

  • 2.

    Use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils and your imagination to draw a picture of Snowflake Bentley taking photos of snowflakes falling, perhaps outside of a barn. Use your eraser to highlight the wood grain, draped cloth, or the accordion-like folds of the camera.

  • 3.

    Use Crayola Fine Tip Markers or Gel Markers to draw snowflakes falling. Enlarge one to show detail.


  • Students learn about the life and accomplishments of Wilson Bentley, photographer and self-made scientist.
  • Students understand how Bentley used the lens in a microscope to photograph individual snowflakes.
  • Students discover why snowflakes are unique.
  • Students draw Snowflake Bentley and an enlarged snowflake.


  • Cut out paper snowflakes, each with a different pattern.
  • Create a classroom precipitation poster showing what conditions in the atmosphere produce rain, snow, sleet, hail, and other forms of precipitation.
  • For younger children and those with special needs, show photographs of the type of camera Bentley used, or visit a museum to see antique cameras. Explore how microscopes work. In winter, catch snowflakes to see variations in their patterns.