Challenge the children to build the tallest tower using different shaped ice blocks.
Early Learning Goal links
Understanding the World ELG: Past and Present – Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society;
Understanding the World ELG: The Natural World – Understand some important processes and changes in the natural world around them, including the seasons and changing states of matter.
Expressive Arts and Design ELG: Creating with Materials
– Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function;
– Share their creations, explaining the process they have used;
STEM vocabulary to introduce
Freezing, cold, solid, hard, melting, dripping, smooth, shiny, white, crystals, see through, cloudy, stick, build, tall, high, wide
What to do
Fill your containers, bags and trays with water and put them into the freezer overnight. You may want to add some food colouring to some of the water.
Place a selection of different shape and size ice blocks into the centre of your tough spot or tray. You might want to keep some of the ice in the freezer to use with other groups.
Tell the children that they are going to be glaciologists, You could show them the glaciolgist poster. Tell the children they will be curious like glaciologists and find out how to build towers with ice. They will be observant like glaciologists and notice which shaped ice fits together best. They will be resilient like glaciologists, because if their tower falls down, they will try again.
Show the children how to stick lumps of ice together. This is done by using the water as glue and painting water where they want the ice to stick together.
Challenge the children to build their towers. You could use our ice towers provocation.
Questions to ask to support and extend learning
You could ask:
- Which shapes are you using?
- How tall can you make your tower?
- How do you get your shapes to balance?
- Will a big shape balance on top of a smaller one?
- Which shapes make the best base for your tower?
- How do you think the ice sticks together?
Other things to try
You could set other ice building challenges such as building the widest structure, building a particular structure such as a house, castle or bridge or challnge children to use particular shapes to build something.
Remember to refer to the children as glaciologists and praise them for using the attributes. You could say things like:
“You have been curious like a glaciologist and found out how to use ice to build a tower…”
The science of freezing and melting
We have put together some useful information about the science of freezing and melting to accompany this activity. Don’t worry this is for your information only and to help you answer any questions children may have. We don’t expect you to explain this to the children in your setting!
Why does water freeze?
The molecules in water are constantly moving. In a liquid, the molecules move more, and faster, than in a solid. As the liquid cools down the molecule movement slows down. When the water temperature reaches around 0°C, the molecules are closer together and weak bonds form between them. They form a solid that we call ice.
Why does water stick the ice together?
The blocks of ice that come out of the freezer have a temperature of about -10 degrees Celsius which is colder than freezing point. When you paint water onto the ice it, the cold surface temperature of the ice quickly freezes the thin layer of water. If you place another block of ice on top of the water before it is frozen, the action of the water freezing will stick the two blocks together.
What else sticks them together?
If you push down on the ice blocks or squeeze them together, the pressure causes the ice to melt. When this pressure is released, the melt water quickly refreezes, sticking the blocks together. This is exactly what happens in a glacier: the ice is so heavy and causes so much pressure that the underneath begins to melt without any change in temperature. Think about squeezing an ice cube tightly in your hand- it melts faster from the pressure of the squeeze than from the heat of your hand alone.
What you’ll need
- A variety of moulds of different shapes and sizes- plastic containers such as yoghurt pots make good larger moulds.
- Ice cube trays and bags- as many shapes and sizes as you can find
- Jugs of water
- A freezer
- A tough spot or try to work in
- Paint brushes
- Beakers of water
- Ice tower provocation
- The glaciologist poster
- 10 minutes preparation time to make the ice, or you could use the ice made by the children in the making ice adult led activity
- Freezing time
- About 10 minutes or so to complete the provocation