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Picture of Exploring Ice

Overview: In this activity, children are invited to take a closer look at something familiar to them-- ice. It might seem a little strange, but the study of a common object can lend itself to some really good practice in thinking like a scientist. Learning to observe something is an important skill in STEAM. It can be intriguing to truly look at something you’ve seen many times before. It’s the difference between just seeing something and observing it.

This Instructable should be not be read as a step-by-step guide, but more of a list of our favorite ways to engage learners in this activity. Take what works for you and leave what doesn't. Experiment with new things and let us know how it goes!

Skills Focus:

- Persistence

- Experimenting

- Observing

- Predicting

- Creativity

- Tool Use

Ages: all ages

Time requirements: ice should be prepared the night before

Step 1: Making Ice: Shapes

Ice should be prepared the night before you plan to use this activity. We use a variety of ways to make ice for kids, depending on their age or the duration of the activity.

- Regular ice cubes. Using ice cube trays or an ice maker, make a bunch of ice cubes! We like to put these in a sensory bin for younger children.

- Big ice cubes. Instead of freezing water in a tray, use Tupperware or mixing bowls to make large ice cubes. Different shaped containers make interesting ice creations! Larger pieces of ice are ideal for a longer session of ice exploration, as it will take longer for them to melt. They also lend themselves well to working in groups or pairs.

- Ice cups. If we want each child to have their own personal ice chunk to explore, we freeze water in plastic Dixie or Solo cups.

- Funky shapes. We have frozen water into balloons, gloves, and silly shaped ice cube trays.

We enjoyed experimenting with freezing glitter glue, Orbeez, and small toys! What a fun way to tinker on a hot day! Plus, this led to some great imaginative play and storytelling!
Your creations look amazing! I have always wanted to try freezing Orbeez. Thank you so much for sharing!
What gorgeous photos of ice! I've been wanting to make a guide on creating candles using ice... an old trick from my days as a kid! :D Thanks for sharing this, can't wait to try it with my littles.