Learn about the properties of water and ice
This is a fun and easy way for children to explore and learn about the properties of water and ice and discover how ice changes from solid to liquid. It is fun to play with ice but having some flowers or other natural objects inside makes it even more exciting! Children can find different ways to make the ice melt faster- I’ve seen children melt it with their hands, throw it to break it into smaller pieces, hit it with hammers, pour water on it, put it in the sun and use salt to make it melt faster.
Allowing children to explore what happens to the ice themselves gives them the opportunity to learn first hand. Adults can suggest different ways for children to try to make the ice melt faster or slower. However, often children can get really creative and it is a great opportunity for children to get to think for themselves about how they want to try to melt the ice (manipulate variables).
What you need
I use our silicone baby food freezer trays to make the ice as they make bigger pieces of ice than the standard ice cube trays. I picked various flowers and leaves from the garden and then stuffed them into the containers before filling them with water and popping them into the freezer for a few hours.
Questions to Ask to help children learn about the properties of ice and water
- What do you think is inside?
- Can you make it melt faster/slower?
- What happens when you…hold the ice in your hand/ put it in the sun/ put salt on it, etc.?
- What happens to the ice? Where did it go?
- How could you make the water solid again?
My children and their friends enjoyed trying to find out what was inside the ice by getting them to melt as quickly as they could. They liked trying different ways to make the ice melt. Holding the ice blocks, pouring water on them and throwing them on the patio were their favourite methods!
What they get from it
This is an enjoyable and hands on way for children to begin to have fun with science. Children will begin to learn about the properties of water and ice. They will also begin to learn about the concepts of liquid, solid (and possibly gas as the water evaporates). This can also provide the opportunity for children to engage in enquiry based learning. Children can explore for themselves what happens to the ice and try out different situations to see how this effects the ice and how quickly it melts.
Take it further
See my toy ice rescue activity for a alternative activity.
Eventually you could talk to children about what happens to the melted water. Children could draw a circle in chalk around the puddle and then keep checking on it to see what happens over the course of a sunny afternoon.
Children could put a bar of chocolate in the sunshine to see what happens to it. Then they can see what they can do to make the chocolate solid again. This is a fun way to explore solid and liquid (states of matter).