Young children are fascinated with ice and will enjoy and learn from this simple activity. It’s a great opportunity to introduce some new vocabulary. Older children will be fascinated in simply experimenting with a solid block of ice but for twos and threes there is more incentive if you freeze lots of little objects in the ice. Choose a variety. Ones that float and ones that sink. Even little chocolate eggs wrapped in foil work well. This extends the learning.
Freeze the water. Gather together some small containers and fill with salt, food colouring and water and tiny scoops and dropper or syringe.
When you are ready turn out the ice onto a large tray. Have ready kitchen paper and cloths and protective clothing!
Of course as soon as small children spot the objects they will want to get them out. Especially the chocolate eggs! But it’s surprising how long ice takes to melt and young children get bored very quickly!
That’s where the salt comes in. If salt is sprinkled on followed by food colouring then they will be able to watch while the salt carves out little rivulets in the ice. It’s a good opportunity to talk about salt and how we sprinkle it on ice paths in the winter. If you use liquid watercolours in place of food colouring then the variety of colours is extended and you also have a lesson in colour mixing.
When the fascination wears off they can resort to dripping first cold water and then warm water over the ice. Again lots of opportunities for learning.
The most important thing is that do everything themselves. Dripping on the colour, sprinkling on the salt. Don’t dictate what they should do,rather ask open ended questions. Questions that motivate. Questions that challenge. You can hide the water until they have experimented with the salt and colours!
It may look like a disorganised mess but they ARE learning by playing and observing. Try again in six months and you will see that they tackle the activity differently.