What had originally been an icy art project, unexpectedly turned into a fascinating science investigation.
A few weeks ago we filled up my baking tins with water that we coloured with powder paint and dropped all manner of things into them. Shells, berries, leaves, sequins, buttons and even a stone were placed inside to make ornaments for our tree. The weather unfortunately instantly became warmer, so we had to wait some time before they were ready to hang. Even then, only the top layer of ice had frozen and within an hour of hanging them on the tree they had melted. We also discovered that if you colour water with powder paint it separates once it begins to freeze, so most of the ornaments were not the lovely colour we had hoped for.
The girls have been peeking outside every morning to check if there is any ice. This week they were rewarded with below freezing temperatures. The ice ornaments were finally ready! We hung them on the tree. The sun was shining and the tree stands in the sun until mid afternoon. I wasn’t sure how long they would stay this time as ‘plop’ one fell down from the tree.
Let’s put it by the door. That’s in the shade – it might make a nice present for Father Christmas.
As we went inside I asked the girls to watch the ornaments from the window.
They are melting.
How do you know?
They’re wet and they’re dripping down.
What do you think will happen as they melt?
I don’t think it will fall off the string because the string is attached. It will just melt and the floor will be wet.
When we went out later there were more interesting observations
Look this one has holes in it. It might break not melt.
Can I touch one?
Within an hour or so the tree was in the shade and the temperature was beginning to drop. We noticed that the drips were starting to turn into little icicles.
The girls thought this was really cool and the next day even more so when we saw large icicles had formed.
They rushed outside to feel them, touching them gently so that they didn’t break off.
A Winter Pirate Treasure Hunt
The weather was so cold that during the late afternoon I sneaked into the garden with a jug of water and some pirate coins. I put the coins in various containers and poured a little water on the top.
In the morning I invited the girls on a pirate treasure hunt. First they needed to make a map. I had some coffee stained and singed paper that in true Blue Peter fashion I had prepared earlier.
Next they needed their pirate toolkit:
A pot of pirate sea salt
Out they went and quickly found coins. The hammers were their first choice. They weren’t very successful so then they tried the salt. They found that if they used the spoons and the salt they could gradually get down to the coin and hook it out.
This could take ages, if we got a jug of hot water it might be quicker.
The ice is still there you just can’t see it.
Drop it in the water
We were talking about the sea salt later in the day.
How do the pirates get salt from the sea?
Good question. The salt is in the water so how do you think they could get it out?
I don’t know.
Shall we try it?
What do we need to do to make the salt disappear into the water?
We need to dissolve it
How? Do you remember how we made jelly dissolve or the sugar water we make for the hummingbirds?
We put hot water on it. Let’s be scientists and do an experiment.
The girls helped to stir the mixture until all the salt had dissolved. We poured the mixture into a pan and put it on the stove.
What happens to water when it gets cold?
It turns to ice
What about when it gets hot?
I don’t know.
Watch. What can you see.
If I put this spoon over the steam what can you see on the spoon.
It’s wet – water.
Yes the water is turning to steam. Now look what’s happening in the pan. What do you think the white stuff is?
I don’t know. Is it steam.
No. The water has gone now so what is left?
We had another idea for an experiment. If we put the salt back in water and then left it outside would it freeze?
I used to love frosty days when I was a kid because we could play on the way to school pretending to ice skate or breathe like a dragon. The same sense of wonder came over my girls when they looked out on a clear frosty morning. They dressed quickly and rushed outside to see if they could find ice . They found ice on top of the water table and in containers that we have on the deck.
They soon learned that ice is very cold!
Later in the morning the girls put on their gloves to go out on an ice hunt.
I removed the lid from the water table. The girls were very excited to find ice inside there too. We added the penguins play set and a few whales.
We made a slide for the penguins with some of the broken ice.
When we got to the front of the house we found a small patch of frost.
Why is it frosty here and not anywhere else?
Because the sun made it melt.
So, why didn’t this bit melt?
It was in the shade.
We decided to leave the lid off the water table to see if we could get even more ice the next day. When they woke up the next day the girls were desperate to get out before any of the ice had melted.
First they checked the water table.
Let’s see what else we can find.
We went back to the water table where the girls found 2 scoops filled with ice.
We can’t get it out.
Shall I run it under the hot tap like I do with the ice lollies?
Next the girls turned their attentions to the animals stuck in the water tray.
Please can we get them out? Can we put hot water on them too?
Yes. I’ll get some.
We poured water onto the ice to free the animals, they could feel the hot water making holes and as we poured more on they were able to free them.
The other side of the water tray made a perfect ice rink for the penguins.
I’m so glad we are home pre-schooling on days like this. Our next project is to make ice decorations for the tree at the front of the house and using pirate treasure maps they made earlier in the week, hunt for coins buried in the ice. My pirate obsessed girls will be armed with special pirate tools and a bit of magic sea salt. Arrrr.