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Ice is Nice for Painting and Science Fun

This painting on a block of ice looked like a fun sensory and art activity but needed some modification; salt and food colors rescued the plan. Have you tried ice painting with your kids? How did yours work?

Recently, I’d seen and immediately saved a post about using water colors to paint on ice. The first step was to freeze some ice in a plastic container. A sandwich keeper is a good size and usually fairly flat on the bottom. Using water colors, kids get to paint right on the ice. InĀ  preparation, I froze a container of water overnight and set it out the next morning along with a tray of water colors.

The water paints made puddles of color that soon flowed into each other and became all mixed up. The purple seemed to be the darkest color so the paints on the ice turned a sort of grey-purple. We then tried some thicker premixed paints but they didn’t really spread at all. Little Sister wanted to make a hand print on the ice block so painted her fingers and hand. When she put her hand on the ice she discovered it was very cold and exclaimed, “My fingers are freezing.” She wasn’t interested in painting anymore.

We dried off the puddle of muddy-colored water on the block, changed it to a paper plate, and sprinkled finger pinches of salt on the top of the ice. Instead of paint, she squeezed a drop of food coloring onto the ice block. The salt was melting the ice and drew the color right into the block. She tried the other bottles of colors too. The drops spread out slightly so the colors stayed separate and bright. There was some blending around the edges and the effect was somewhat like stained glass. She only used a few drops but was engaged in watching the colors create a circle and slowly seep into the ice. Even Big Sister was interested.

The benefit of an activity does not depend on the finished product but more on the process. The process of painting on a block of ice didn’t seem to capture the interest or imagination very much. Using the salt and food colors was quite ‘cool’, plus there was a little science with salt melting the ice. The colors showed where it was melting. Have you tried either of these ice painting activities?

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Copyright 2014 Barbara Allisen & 123 Kindergarten