Three Fun Science Activities For Preschoolers Using Ice!

Here in Washington State we’re in the midst of bit of a heat spell this summer (at least, hotter than most western Washingtonians are used to). In looking for ways to keep my kids cool, I came across some some fun looking activities using ice! I thought I’d share my favorites with you.

Frozen Dinosaur Eggs

J, my almost three-year-old is really into dinosaurs right now. On our way home from a vacation in Colorado this summer we went to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, WY. He LOVED it. We weren’t expecting him to get as excited about a bunch of big dinosaur skeletons as he did, running through the museum exclaiming, “Oooh! Wook at dat one!! Oooh! Wook at dat one mommy!!”. He even learned how to say “Stegosaurus”. Quite the word for a two-year-old!

So, when I came across this dinosaur egg activity I put it on my list to try. The idea comes from a blogger, Anna Ranson, on her page, theimaginationtree.com. Link here: http://theimaginationtree.com/2016/09/frozen-dinosaur-eggs-sensory-play.html

frozen-dinosaur-eggs-science-and-sensory-play

It’s very simple. Just choose some small dinosaur toys, push them into water balloons, fill them with water, and freeze them. We’re definitely going to try it one of these days! Just be sure that if you are doing this around babies or children who still put things in their mouths, that you use dinosaurs that are too big to fit in their mouth, and that you take the ice balls away once they become smaller than a golf ball.

Painting on Ice: A lesson in texture and color mixing

The next one is by blogger, Sheryl Cooper, and comes from a website I love, Teaching2and3yearolds.com. Link here: https://teaching2and3yearolds.com/ice-painting-for-kids/ It’s also an incredibly simple idea. All it takes is a block of ice and water colors!

ice painting for kids

 

You can freeze water in a shallow, square, plastic container to be ready any time you need it. Just pop it out on to a tray and give your child some paints! This is one I’m considering putting in my 2-3 yrs science curriculum kit (current kits available here) because it would be an excellent way to explore color mixing. You can even press a piece of paper on the top of the ice to create a print! It sounds like it would be a hit with my little ones.

Salt Water Ice Tunnels: Learn About Freezing Points

This last one has the most actual science involved and could be a really great way to explore freezing points. It comes from Anna Reyner of artandcreativity.blogspot.com. Link here: http://artandcreativity.blogspot.com/2011/06/ice-tunnels-bring-on-summer-fun.html

Here are the instructions to make these ice cubes riddled with beautiful colored ice tunnels.

  1. Freeze water in several containers of different sizes.
  2. Pop them out onto a tray or into a plastic tub.
  3. Using a muffin tin put about 3 tbsp of liquid water color in each cup. Then spoon in about 1 tbsp of salt in to each cup and mix it into the water color.
  4. Use a dropper to drip some of the salt/watercolor mixture onto the blocks of ice. You could do all one color or mix the colors for interest.
  5. Watch to see what happens!

The salty watercolor will mix with the water from the ice as it melts. This will lower the freezing point of the melting water making the ice in contact with it melt faster. Pure water will freeze at a temperature of 32°F. Water freezes by locking into a crystal structure that is very hard to break. That is, it takes a lot of energy in the form of heat to break the molecules out of their bonds. But when sodium and chloride atoms mix with the water molecules, they prevent the water molecules from locking as tightly. It’s a bit like mixing toothpicks into a jar of marbles. The water molecules (marbles) are pushed apart by the sodium and chloride atoms (toothpicks). This makes the water molecules’ bonds easier to break, meaning it takes less heat to break the bonds and melt the water.

Long story short, the saltwater will melt holes into the ice and the watercolor paints will make the holes easier to see. They will also make the ice tunnels pretty, because who doesn’t like a science experiment that is also beautiful, right?

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Want to do experiments like this but don’t have the time to put the materials together? Go check out my store and buy one of my home made science kits for your preschoolers. They are tested, tried, and sure to delight.