Help children to discover how ice is made.
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: People, Culture and Communities – Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps;
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
Water, wet, liquid, flowing, pour, fill, freezing, cold, solid, hard, melting, dripping, smooth, shiny, white, crystals, see through, cloudy
Before you start
Show the children the glaciologist poster and tell the children that they are going to be glaciologists for this activity.
Ask the children if they know what a glaciologist does. A glaciologist is a scientist who studies glaciers. Glaciers are huge lump of ice found in mountains or near the poles which move slowly towards the sea.
Tell the children of the attributes. Glaciologists are:
Curious: glaciologists want to know more about how the ice in glaciers is made.
Observant: glaciologists look at the ice carefully to see what colour and shape it is.
Resilient: glaciologists need to be able work in cold and windy conditions. They need to be quick to recover and get back out in the cold again each day.
Explain that today they will be curious and observant in their glaciologist task.
What to do
Ask the glaciologists if they know how ice is made. Ask them what they think they will need to make some ice.
Show the children the different moulds, bags and trays and the jugs of water. Tell the children that they are going to fill their mould with water and freeze it.
You could ask:
- What is water? Why do we need it? Where does it come from?
- Where shall we put the water to make it into ice?
- How long do you think it will take to turn into ice?
- What will happen to the water to make it into ice?
Ask the children to choose a mould, bag or tray and to observe it carefully.
You could ask:
- Can you describe the shape of your mould/bag/tray?
- What shape do you think the ice will be when it comes out of the mould?
- Get the children to fill their moulds with water and put them in the freezer. You may need to label them or make a list of who had each mould.
The next day, get the ice out of the freezer and return the moulds, bags or trays to the correct child. Get the children to try and get their ice out of the moulds/bags/trays. Tell them they will have to try hard and be resilient, like glaciologists, if they can’t get the ice out the first time.
You could ask:
- Was your ice easy or difficult to get out of your mould/bag/tray?
- Why do you think that was?
- Is the ice the same shape as your container?
- Why do you think that is?
- What does your ice look like?
- Can you see anything inside it?
Other things to try
Use the ice to set up Provocation 3: ice sculptures.
The science of ice
We have put together some useful information about the science of ice 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!
How 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.
How do glaciers (ice sheets) form in the Arctic and Antarctic?
Glaciers form in places where more snow falls than melts. Soon after snow falls, it becomes more tightly packed, turning into ice pellets. These ice pellets get covered by even more snow and become more compressed. This results in a grainy ice forming. Every year as snow falls, layers of this granular ice fall on top of each other. When the pile grows to about 50m thick, the granular ice fuses together into a huge lump of ice.
What you’ll need
- A variety of moulds of different shapes and sizes- water balloons and 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 tray to work in
- The Glaciologist poster
- 10 minutes or so to fill the moulds
- Freezing time
- Discussion time when the ice is ready