You may have heard mention around here that it’s been an intense winter… and we’re still in it. Last week we got into the spirit of ice and did a melting experiment at home inspired by this from Jean at the Artful Parent. You probably have everything you need in your home: ice chunks (made from bowls and mugs of various sizes), salt, and food colouring or watercolour paints. You’ll also need a tray with a lip to contain the melted ice – baking trays worked well for us. It’s nice to have droppers to add the dyes/paints, although you could also just slowly pour some of the liquid from a teaspoon.
It’s an easy and fun project that beautifully demonstrates the melting action of salt when it comes into contact with ice. When sprinkled on, the salt crystals will bore holes and crevices into the ice upon contact. Adding food dyes (which we used) or watercolour paints to the salted ice illuminates these miniature pathways with colour. The results were striking.
I think I can fairly say this is the most successful crafting project I’ve done with all three boys (7, 5 and 2) so far. All three were completely engaged and, praise be!, my littlest could participate fully. They love ice, just touching it, they enjoyed applying the salt, squeezing the drops of food dye from their little containers (each drop makes a dramatic difference), and using our own droppers to play around with the coloured water that pooled around the ice on the trays.
They stayed at it for a good, long while. Toward the end, I was hanging around the kitchen island watching them work and waiting for them to finish); they needed no assistance or input from me. It was a bit messy, and their sleeves were wet (my two year old’s shirt was pretty wet too), but it was easy to clean up. It was well worth it, and really quite pretty.
And Canadian winter that we’re in, this ice project will probably reflect the weather outdoors for a few weeks yet…