Take some inspiration from the season and try a few of these snow and ice activities with your kids. Even if it’s too cold to go outside—or there’s not a flake of snow on the ground—there are still ways to have some winter fun and learn something at the same time!
1. See Which Ice Melts the Fastest
Make several ice cubes of the same size. Lay them out in a larger container and experiment with putting different substances on the ice to see if it accelerates the melting process. Have your kids make a hypothesis about what will happen. Try salt, sugar, vinegar, baking soda, and hot water.
2. Learn about Thermostats
Check the temperature of different places right around home and teach kids about reading a thermometer. Try the living room, the refrigerator, freezer, outside, and inside the car.
3. Make Frost on a Can
Find an empty soup can or other metal can and fill about 2/3 with crushed ice. Lay out a sheet of paper and pour a teaspoon or two of water on the paper, and put the can on the wet paper. Fill the can the rest of the way up with salt and mix well for a few minutes. Frost will start to appear on the can.
4. Shrinking Snow
Have each kid scoop up a level measuring cup full of snow outside. Bring it inside and wait for it to melt. While it’s melting, have your kids predict how much water will be left in the cup. They may be surprised by the outcome!
5. Turn Boiling Water into Snow
This one definitely needs adult supervision! If you have a really cold day (single digit or negative temperatures), you can make your own snow. Boil water and then toss it outside. Watch how it instantly turns to snow in the air.
6. Magnify Snow
When it’s snowing, catch some snowflakes on a cookie sheet, or scoop some up from outside, and have your kids study them under a magnifying glass. Ask them to make observations about what they look like and what they see.
7. Slow Down Melting
Here’s a fun way to teach kids about insulation—and the importance of wearing layers in cold weather. Put an ice cube or equal amounts of snow in several plastic cups of the same size. Then wrap each cup in a different material, such as newspaper, fabric, bubble wrap, aluminum foil, and so forth. Have your kids predict which material will insulate the best, and see which ice melts the slowest.