Saturday, July 17, 2010

Art with Salt and Ice


After a recent visit to Seaworld, Master 4 has been very interested in Polar Bears. As many of the stories we read have Polar bears living in Arctic conditions he had many questions on the trip home as to why the environment as Sea World wasn't made correctly for the Polar Bear?? Ahh the minds of a 4 year old. Needless to say this has taken us on a bit of an ice journey this weekend with some fun science based learning.


This activity allows children to create their own colourful ice sculpture by using rock salt and food coloring on a solid block of ice. The entire activity is like a mini-science lesson because it teaches kids the physical reaction of salt on ice.


It's great for teaching problem-solving and encouraging kids to be persistent. In addition, it teaches them the concept of solids transforming to liquids. It also promotes hand-eye coordination and allows kids to use their fine motor skills. And finally, it encourages language development, because children are excited by what they see happening and want to talk about it. This is an open-ended activity, so there’s really no right or wrong way to do this project. Kids will not feel anxious about whether they are “doing it right.” It’s really great for building kids’ self-esteem.


What you need:
Cardboard milk carton
Water
Rock salt
Eye droppers
Food coloring

  • First, fill half of the cardboard milk carton with water and allow it to freeze overnight into a solid block of ice. You can do this activity outdoors or indoors, but if you do it inside, you’ll first want to cover your table with plastic. For kids around four or five years old, you can encourage their problem-solving skills by bringing the cartons of solid ice out onto a table and telling the kids, “OK, we are doing this activity, but it’s up to you to figure out how to get the ice out.” If they give up and say, “We can’t do it,” then encourage them to be persistent and work together on how they might be able to accomplish it. Two or three year-olds won’t have developed the motor skills to be able to take the ice out of the cartons by themselves, so you’ll need to assist them. Once the block of ice is out of the container, take the blocks of ice and stand it upright in a pan or plastic container (to capture the water from the ice block as it melts). Talk to your child about the chemical reaction that ice has when salt is sprinkled on it. Allow your child to sprinkle rock salt onto the top of the block of ice.

  • Next, let them choose different colours to squeeze onto the tops of their block of ice with eye-droppers. The food colouring will run through the cracks that the salt makes in the ice and will create a really beautiful ice sculpture. For younger kids, handling the eye-dropper will be a challenge, so they should be shown how to use one and encouraged to keep trying until they succeed. Encourage your child to discuss what they see happening when they add food colouring to their ice sculpture. Remember that an ice sculpture is only temporary. You may want to take a digital photo of each sculpture before it melts away.

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