Ice is Nice

niceice This is a wonderful cross-curricular investigation, emphasizing art (color mixing and sculpting), writing (metaphors, descriptive words, language experiences), and science (use of the scientific method, observing water as it changes from the solid state to a liquid).


  • To begin to understand how to use descriptive words and metaphors
  • To learn about and apply the scientific method in an investigation

Before You Start: About a week before doing this project send a letter home to parents asking them to help their child to make an unusually shaped ice cube. Milk cartons make good molds, as do margarine tubs or any container which is wider at the top than at the bottom (so the ice cube can be unmolded). Specify the date on which you want the kids to bring their ice cubes. The day before the activity is to take place, empty the sand or water from your sand/water table in preparation for containing the ice sculpture.

Let's Get Started! Step 1. On the morning you have selected for this project, have the kids take their ice cubes out of the molds and place them into the sand/water table, which has been emptied out for this ice sculpture. It’s best when the ice cubes are more or less piled on top of each other.

Step 2. Have each child put one drop of either red, blue, or yellow Liquid Watercolor™ on top of their ice cube after they put it in the sand/water table.

Step 3. After all the ice cubes are in place, and all the Liquid Watercolor™ has been added, lightly sprinkle glitter over the entire sculpture.

Step 4. As the day goes by, have the kids check on the sculpture frequently. On a chart in the front of the room, record the children’s observations, questions, and descriptions of what is happening with the sculpture. Emphasize the use of “describing words,” and tell the children that both actual and metaphorical descriptions are great (you will have to explain the concept of a metaphor prior to beginning the chart recording). Also, emphasize the scientific process by asking questions, making predictions, making observations, and explaining results.

Step 5. Enter into the wonder the children experience as they observe the unfolding, ever-changing beauty. Feel free to add your own observations and descriptions to the chart.

Step 6. As the ice melts, the Liquid Watercolor™ will mix, and the children will observe the effects of mixing different primary colors together.

Step 7. By the end of the day, the sculpture will be nearly melted. Discuss with the children what happened, and why it happened. Structure your questions to reflect the process of the scientific method.

Step 8. Have fun! This is a wonderful, fun, magical activity to do with young children. They love it!

Furthermore: This activity can be followed up with art lessons in which the children mix their own paint colors from primary colored tempera.

Products You May Need: