At Educa we love finding creative and easy ways to play and learn.  Especially involving sensory activities. This hands on STEAM activity was a success at my house. It held the attention of the children, there was minimal mess to tidy up and an awesome ice dome was created (that won’t clutter up the toy room!). Result!


Salty Ice Domes

Mix red and yellow together to get...
Mix red and yellow together to get…


To make two ice balls you will need two balloons.  Fill them up with tap water the night before and freeze for at least 12 hours.

Peel the balloon from the ice and place the frozen ice ball in a small bowl.

Use a few drops of food coloring in a plastic cup of water.  We used the three primary colors – yellow, red and blue.

Salt makes ridges in the ice.
Salt makes ridges in the ice.

Sprinkle some salt on the ice ball and have the kids use their hands to rub the salt over the ice. This will create grooves in the ice because the salt dissolves the ice.

The kids then used a dropper to drip colored water onto the salted frozen ice ball to create a fantastic bright ball of ice!

Extra art activity for experts – Teach the children to make purple, orange or green water to drop on the ball by mixing together the primary colors!

The idea for this came from The Artful Parent blog where she supplies detailed instructions


Other Sensory Activities Using Ice

Using ice is such a ‘cool’ idea for hands on activities, we’ve rounded up 5 more ideas for you to try.  Most are pretty easy, and have very really value in terms of hands on learning, sparking curiosity and creativity, with a few science lessons thrown in.


1. Ice Bowling

Fill round balloons with water colored with a few drops of food coloring and freeze.

The next day, remove the balloon for a cool bowling ball!

Get your early learners active using ice balls to bowl!  You can use large plastic bottles with colored water for the pins! This one could get messy, so maybe move it outside!


2. Cold Climate Ice Balls

Is snow falling where you are?  You can forget the freezer and head straight outside to make decorative ice balls like these girls

3. Dino Dig

source: Dino Dig - Happy Hooligans
source: Dino Dig – Happy Hooligans

Freezing objects in ice is a tried and true way to get imaginations working as children become explorers and archaeologists discovering creatures and fossils from the Ice Age.

This version from Happy Hooligans uses colored salt and hot water for melting the ice.

You can choose to either:

  1. Freeze small containers for individual children
  2. Make an ice cube as big as your freezer, which will allow you to get groups of early learners working together to “free” the trapped dinosaurs.

4. Float some ice boats

Image: Ice Boats - Learning4Kids
Image: Ice Boats – Learning4Kids

Teaching early learners about the changes that happen when water is frozen is easily demonstrated by making ice boats. You’ll need rectangular containers (if you want rectangular boats).

Fill with colored water – add straws for masts and foam, thin plastic or cardboard for sails (these can be pushed in when partly frozen – a great time for children to see the changes happening in the water – set a timer to check the boats).

When they’re frozen tip them into a large container of water and set them floating! In this version by Learning4kids they used red and yellow food coloring which made – ORANGE!

This would be a great activity to try the color mixing I did with the kids for our ice domes.



5. Mmmmm…

Did someone say icecream?  Check out this last tasty ice experiment for all seasons

What Learning is Happening ?

Science:  Investigative and predictive skills. Observing change in the state of materials, using heat, water and salt

Sensory: Exploring a range of materials using all senses (because they WILL taste it!)

Literacy: Using new science based vocabulary

It’s worth reading the article Evidence-based tips for teaching kids about ice, water, and the scientific method. It discusses the importance of giving children space and time to experiment for themselves with the ice to see the effects of what they are trying. The sensory activities make the learning even more powerful and real.

For more activities follow our Educa pinterest board – Hands on STEAM Activities for Early Learner, and check out our earlier blog post about STEM in early education.

We’d love to see your experiments with ice magic. Share a pic on our Facebook page!


About us

Educa is software designed by teachers for early learning services.  To find out how you can share great examples of learning with parents (and vice versa), check out our website.

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