Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Simple and Playful Ice Experiments

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In winter, snow gets all the glory. As it should be, right? After all, you need snow to sled, ski, make snow ice cream, and build awesome snow horses!

There’s no fun in ice and bitter cold.

Or is there?

While we were in Puerto Rico, it got down to -10 in Indiana. -10!

Crazy things happen at -10 degrees Fahrenheit. As in, my brother texted us to say that he walked outside and his snot froze. Frozen snot AND you can watch a water bottle freeze right before your eyes. That’s cold.

Thankfully, it’s been above zero since we got back. However, I’m still not above complaining about how it takes twenty minutes to put on all the layers needed to go outside for a five-minute walk, how I’m no good at driving on ice, and how my dog would rather pee in the house than go outside in the snow.

With that said, I’m trying to look on the bright side. And, in this situation, the bright side is that ICE offers tons of learning opportunities for my kiddos.

I was an English major; science and math are not my strong suits. So I’m trying to step up my science game with our homeschooled preschooler.

For my friends in warm climates (lucky!), you can do the same things using ice cubes from your freezer.

Affiliate links included for your convenience.

Brrr! Make the most of the cold winter days with these simple and fun ice experiments.

Project “Embrace the Cold” Ice Experiment #1:

Liquid to Solid Observation

Gosh, it’s so easy to take for granted things like an adult understanding of how water turns to ice when it gets below freezing! But this simple scientific observation was a highlight for my three-year-old.

We added water and food coloring (neon is awesome) to cut-off water bottles (apparently I’m a hoarder because these have been around since we made a bubble bar for our baby’s first birthday in July!) and put them outside. The first night, they froze; however, the high of the day was 40. Our little one loved poking the water/ice to see the ice chunks bob around in the “warmer” temperatures.

The next day, the high was 25, and the bottles were frozen solid.

Winter science experiments for kids

Project “Embrace the Cold” Ice Experiment #2:

Ice Sculptures and Blocks

We have a few cute ice cube molds (kind of like these) from ikea and the dollar store. We froze them outside, and then used them to build little decorative ice sculptures.

The table salt helped the pieces to stick together. I’ve heard water works too!


Project “Embrace the Cold” Ice Experiment #3. This was our favorite of the ice experiments!

What’s the fastest way to melt ice?

Okay, so I admit that I was curious about this one! Why do cities dump salt and sand instead of…oh, let’s say…sugar? Cost benefits aside, I honestly didn’t know what melted ice faster.

So we set up plates of ice.

And added sand, salt, sugar, or warm water to each plate.

Brrr! Make the most of the cold winter days with these simple and fun winter ice experiments for kids.

This WAS fascinating stuff, people!

The warm water was the clear winner. A little heat goes a long way.

The sugar and salt were neck and neck for a few hours until salt pulled ahead and demonstrated that it is, in fact, a great choice for melting ice.

You know what surprised me? The sand had no effect. How did I miss that before? Apparently, cities put down sand for traction, not to melt the ice.

Brrr! Make the most of the cold winter days with these simple and fun ice experiments.

For a great scientific explanation as to the properties of sand and salt and how they interact with the snow and ice on the roads, check out this article. I think it would be a great teaching tool for older kids!

Apparently, there’s a good scientific explanation as to why sugar (and anything else that dissolves in water) will melt ice. How do I know? This slideshow told me.

This is the third and final day of our Winter Play Days Series. You can catch our first two posts by clicking on the following links:

Snowed in? Make Snow Cream!

So long, Snowman! Make a Snow Horse Instead.

Don’t miss the other ideas shared by my amazing blogging friends. Some of them live in more bearable climates (like California and Florida), so no worries if you (unlike all of us shivering in the Midwest) are without snow this season. There are still plenty of ways to have fun!

Launching Ping Pong Ball Snowmen from Buggy and Buddy

Wooden Train Ski Jump: a Winter Olympics Activity from Play Trains

Indoor Snowman Decorating Play Set from Fantastic Fun and Learning

Arctic Small World and Sensory Play from Fun-A-Day!

Colourful Fun in the Snow from My Nearest and Dearest

Brrr!!! Make the most of the cold winter days with these playful ideas for exploring the properties of ice.



2 thoughts on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Simple and Playful Ice Experiments”

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Summer Science Experiments for Kids - Fun-A-Day!

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