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Colouring the Ice

Experimenting with Ice and Colour

Children are naturally curious. They love to ask "Why" and "How", and are always seeking to learn about themselves and the world in which they live. They are fascinated by natural phenomena, like rainbows, ice, rain, and how plants grow, and it is important to foster this sense of wonder and interest in the natural world as this can lead to them becoming global citizens who respect and care for the environment.

Providing experiences that are both fun and meaningful is the key to creating deep learning. Hands-on learning, particularly in the form of science experiments that have scientific thinking skills embedded in them like prediction, investigation, experimentation, and observation, provide a solid foundation for children to become life-long learners who can think outside the box while retaining their innate curiosity and sense of wonder.

You will need:

  • Containers/bowls to freeze water in in to create ice

  • Food colouring

  • Water

  • Jars for food colouring and water

  • Pipettes or eye droppers

  • Tray

  • Bowl of cooking salt with a spoon

What to do:

Step 1

Fill containers/bowls with water and freeze overnight

Step 2

Set up the experiment: Place a small amount of water in glass jars and add food colouring (tip: the more food colouring, the more vibrant the colours on the ice), have eye droppers or pipettes for each colour, and have a small bowl of salt with a spoon.

Step 3

Remove ice from containers/bowls and place on tray (tip: running the container under warm water makes this process easier).

Step 4

Remind children of the Story of Betty the Yeti, and how she was bored with the lack of colour in her world. Explain to the children that they will be adding colour to the ice in a way that Betty might appreciate.

Step 5

Explain to children that they will be adding salt, which has the effect of melting the ice in interesting patterns. Ask them to watch for what happens as they add the salt and then the food colouring.

Step 6

Demonstrate how to add salt with the spoon and then the colour using the eye droppers/pipettes.

Step 7

Encourage the children to explore in their own way, including using the eye droppers or spoon to swirl the colours as the ice melts.

Tip- for larger groups of children, perhaps use bigger containers to create ice and wash off colour and salt in between each child OR perhaps have children working in groups on a large slab of ice.

You could print off the pictures to show the children and use this as a pictorial procedure for the children to follow.

*I wanted to add some more colour so I used the Yellow Food colouring straight from the bottle as the colour was more intense.

*A lighter coloured tray makes it easier to see the rainbow colours swirling together as the ice melts.

Questions to ask:

  • "What can you see happening?"

  • "Why do you think that is happening?"

  • "What do you think would happen if....?"