Cut Paper Snowflakes Designed on an iPad

Cut Paper Snowflakes Designed on an iPad


It’s winter! Time for a snowflake project. Our sixth graders just finished their cut paper snowflake projects, with a special twist: all the snowflakes were designed on iPads.


Students designed snowflakes on iPads using the My Flake app, then cut paper snowflakes to match.  Allow one 40-minute class.

Students designed snowflakes on iPads using the My Flake app, then cut paper snowflakes to match. Allow one 40-minute class.


  • round coffee filters (I got a pack of 150 at my local dollar store)
  • protractor (optional)
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone with FREE My Flake app
  • Optional: construction paper and glue stick or spray glue for mounting

Snowflakes and Symmetry:

We began class by viewing this excellent slideshow of magnified snowflakes from the book The Art of the Snowflake: A Photographic Album by Kenneth Libbrecht.

Magnified snowflake photo by Kenneth Libbrecht. Source:

Magnified snowflake photo by Kenneth Libbrecht.

This is a good time to discuss radial and bilateral symmetry. Just like real snowflakes, our iPad and cut paper snowflakes will have radial symmetry, with six identical branches.

symmetry in nature


Folding the Paper

Next we folded our coffee filters in sixths. Students folded the round coffee filters in half, then used a protractor to divide the semi-circle into thirds. See this post from the Heart of Wisdom blog for great directions on folding the coffee filters.

Cut paper snowflakes start with a round coffee filter folded in half, then into thirds. Then one more fold in half.

Cut paper snowflakes start with a round coffee filter folded in half, then into thirds. Then one more fold in half to create a skinny wedge.


Designing the Snowflake on the iPad

I demonstrated how to use the My Flake app, guiding my finger on the screen to make virtual cuts on the paper image.

 cut paper snowflakes designed on an iPad collage

Students spent the next five minutes exploring the My Flake app. The app allows them to test out different designs virtually by ‘cutting’ a folded paper image, then previewing the design. They can go back and undo or redo one ‘cut’ at a time, and preview the resulting changes.

Once the students settled on a final design,they copied their My Flake design on the folded paper, and finally cut the folded paper to match.

Tip: encourage students to try a simple design on their first snowflake, and draw pencil lines lightly.

cut paper to match iPad design

Sixth grade student work:

Matching paper and iPad snowflakes

Matching paper and iPad snowflakes

Mount cut paper snowflakes on construction paper.

Mount cut paper snowflakes on construction paper.

Our school is 1:1 iPads in grades 4-6. However, this project can be done collaboratively in pairs or in small groups. Several students can share an iPad, each adding a virtual cut or two. Then they can all cut the group design (U.S. art teachers – collaboration is a big part of new Common Core standards).

These two students collaborated on an iPad My Flake design, then both cut to match.

These two students collaborated on an iPad My Flake design, then both cut to match.

On its own, the My Flake app may also be an option for an inclusion activity. Students who cannot easily manipulate scissors may be able to design virtual snowflakes on My Flake and print them out for decorations.

More resources:

If you don’t have an iPad: use the Make a Flake website.

If you are looking for a book to accompany a snowflake project: our librarian likes Snowflake Bentley, the Caldecott-winning book by Jacqueline Briggs Martin about real-life snowflake photographer Wilson Bentley.

More fun snowflake resources on my cut paper Pinterest board.

Thanks to Dryden Art and Brunswick Acres Art for sharing My Flake and other resources on their blogs. Thanks to N.T., one of our awesome sixth grade teachers, for support on this project.

Do you use iPads in the art room?

Do you have a favorite app?

Leaf ‘Collage’ + Photography

Want to try a leaf collage project? Want your leaves to stay fresh and bright forever? Skip the glue/wax paper/laminator and try a camera instead!

Third graders arranged leaves into animal shapes, then photographed their art. Allow one 40-minute class for this ‘collage’ lesson.

Third graders just completed their leaf collages, inspired by the book Look What I Did with a Leaf! by Morteza E. Sohi.

In the book, M. Sohi arranged leaves on a white background to create fanciful animals, then photographed them. Click here to see more examples.

To prepare for this lesson, you need to gather a variety of leaves and flatten them. I placed the leaves between the pages of an old phone book. Plan to do this at least a couple of days in advance so the leaves will be really flat. You can also ask kids to bring in leaves from home

On the day of class, cover tables with white paper to create a backdrop and spread out the leaves.

Cover tables with white paper to create a unified backdrop for the collages.

Students arranged the leaves to resemble animals.  Butterflies were very popular!

Student arranges a leaf butterfly.

We used camera-equipped iPods to photograph our artworks. Our third grade is 1:1 iPod Touch so each child was able to take photos of their own creations.

Students used camera-equipped iPods to photograph their collages.

Students then rearranged their leaves and repeated the process. Most of our third graders made 3-5 animals during the 40 minute class.

Third Grade Student Work:

Ashley’s alligator






One of the benefits of this method is that students can re-use and share leaves. Remind your students not to crumble the leaves, and you can reuse them for multiple classes. Students can work alone, in pairs or in groups – there is no argument over who takes the work home because everyone can have a digital copy of the work.

Next class we will learn to rotate and crop our photos, and how to email them.

Display options:

  • Upload to Artsonia
  • Email the images home, or put them up on the class wiki
  • Create a large class poster of all the images for the art show
  • Students can write a paragraph about their animals, or illustrate a story.

For further inspiration, check out the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. The artist used real fallen leaves to create her illustrations.



iPad Alphabet Photography Collages

  • 20120624-060257.jpg

Just finished the fourth grade iPad Alphabet photography collages.

I am thrilled with the results!

Our fourth graders shot color letter photos in our school garden, using camera-equipped iPads and iPod touches. I wrote about the first two days of this process in this post.


On Day 3, students brought iPads to the art room (note: make sure your tables are super clean!). Students partnered up to help each other during the photo selection and editing process. First they selected their single best photo. Using the basic photo edit in the device, the students cropped their photos, changed them to black and white, then saved to the device’s camera roll.

Next, students emailed me their best single b&w photos.

I used a Mac computer equipped with iPhoto to sort the photos. Whatever photo editing application you use, I highly suggest creating a folder for each letter.

To create the group collages, I used the free website Pic Monkey. It was easy to create a grid and upload the 26 letter photos for each collage. I even added a frame and text before saving the photo. Note: Pic Monkey requires Flash and cannot be used on an iPad. Also, if you use Pic Monkey, plan on filling that grid in one sitting as you cannot save work to the site.

I’m not going to lie – the whole process took a lot of time. I did the collages at home after hours. I am not a photographer, and there was a lot of trial and error.
I will teach it differently next time, specifically:

Model cropping,
Model saving as a black and white image,
Model emailing photos to me with a correct email address, and subject line including name, teacher and letter.

I will also seek alternate iPad apps for the students, and photo collage apps for me.

Have you taught a photo project using iPads? Please share!

UPDATE: DONE! I finished the iBook for this lesson plan. It contains all the alphabet photos and collages.

You need an iPad to read it. Here is the link




Check out this book on the iBookstore:

Cover Art

iPad Alphabet Photography

Rina Vinetz, Cara Spitzmiller & Angie Tremble

Category: Education

High Tech Famous Artist Scavenger Hunt

This year our art show featured a famous artist scavenger hunt – with a special twist : we used smartphones and QR codes to discover facts about famous artists.

We added square black and white QR (Quick Response) codes to all of our famous artist displays.

What are QR codes?

Some of you reading this are very familiar with QR (Quick Response) codes, but many are not. QR codes are square, black and white, pixellated computer-generated images. You need a smartphone (or camera-equipped iPod touch or iPad) plus a free scanner app to read a QR code.

Teacher uses a smartphone to scan the Modigliani QR code.

What happens when you ‘read’ (scan) a code with your smartphone?

Your smartphone opens to a new website, or displays text of your choice.

How To Read a QR code:

  • download a free scanner app (we use Red Laser) to your device
  • scan the QR code


Our QR (Quick Response) code for Pablo Picasso.


Here is the text you get when you scan QR code 8 above:

‘Pablo Picasso was born in Spain. He painted every day of his adult life. He is famous for his Cubist artworks. Kindergarteners made collage portraits inspired by Picasso’s unusual portraits.’

If you are reading this and own a smartphone, pull up this post on a laptop or computer and give it a try. I was actually able to scan my own computer screen using the Red Laser app.

How to generate your own QR codes (its easy and free):

Google ‘QR code generator’. We liked the websites and

The generators allow you to add your own text. We entered a brief 250-character statement about each famous artist, and then generated the code.


Our school is piloting a 1:1 iPad/iPod touch program in the 4th grade.  The entire grade is utilizing the devices in the classroom. I thought the QR code scavenger hunt would be a fun way to integrate technology with art education, to get parents involved with technology, and just to have a fun family activity at the art show. Many parents were completely unfamiliar with codes – it was great to see kids showing their parents how to read them.

Learn More about QR codes and art ed:

I originally learned about QR codes in art education from The Teaching Palette and Mini Matisse. Thanks!


What about those famous artists? Check out our scavenger hunt form:

Completed scavenger hunt form.

We studied 10 artists this year. Click on the links to see the lesson plans.

1. Dale Chihuly 2. George Seurat 3. Alexander Calder 4. Claude Monet 5. Diego Rivera 6. Amadeo Modigliani 7. Wayne Thiebaud 8. Pablo Picasso 9. Wassily Kandinsky and 10. Henri Matisse

Thanks to:

Two (awesome!) fourth graders, Max and Arman, generated the QR codes for all 10 famous artists for  the 2012 art show, our 4th grade teachers, and fabulous parent volunteer M.B.G., who prepared all the forms and signage for the scavenger hunt.


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