Painting Ice Cubes: Water & Ice Experiment

One of my most favorite things to do with my 3-year old daughter is science experiments. Typically, at this age you can find everything you need in your pantry – and this super fun and simple experiment is just about as easy as it gets. It’s amazing how the simplest things we take for granted as adults are still such a wonder to our young children.

My daughter really loves Disney Villains so we themed our ice cubes up a bit to use colors reminiscent of Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella DeVille. Get creative! If your child has a character or theme they especially like, let them choose the colors for this fun project to give them more ownership over the experience.

Arts and Crafts Painting Ice Cubes

Purpose:

Besides having fun and giving your child something to do (other than being glued to a screen) the purpose of this experiment is to illustrate the relationship of ice and water. Like I mentioned above – it’s basic and means nothing to us adults, but can be totally magical to them!

You will need:

  • Ice Cubes (if you have the ability to use the larger silicon trays found here I find these work well, otherwise regular old ice cubes will do just fine).
  • Tempura Paint
  • Food Coloring (Optional)

Arts and Crafts Painting Ice Cubes

Steps:

Version 1 (Using Food Coloring/Ice Trays)

  • With Food Coloring & Ice Trays:
    • Fill your ice tray with water as you normally would when making ice cubes, except have your child put a drop or two of some of their favorite colors (one color per cube!) in each opening. One good method is to only focus on using primary colors, so then you can mix other primary paint colors in a later step to also show color mixing.
  • Take out your ice trays once they are frozen and equip your child with a few different tempura paints and paint brushes.
  • Remove the ice from the tray and place them in bowls. I liked to put each of our cubes in individual bowls so the colors could stay isolated from one another.
  •  Let your child go to town painting each ice cube, noting how the ice does not absorb the paint but rather sort of floats around on top while barely penetrating the ice itself. Ask them questions about what they are observing!
  • Once they are done painting, set the bowls of ice outside and wait for them to start melting.
  • Set a timer for every 5-10 minutes (depending on how hot it is outside and how fast you think the ice will melt) to check on the bowls to see how the ice changes as it starts to melt!

Version 2 (No Food Coloring/Ice Trays)

  • Place Ice Cubes in several bowls on a table with some tempura paints and paint brushes ready to go
  • Let your child go to town painting each ice cube, noting how the ice does not absorb the paint but rather sort of floats around on top while barely penetrating the ice itself. Ask them questions about what they are observing!
  • Once they are done painting, set the bowls of ice outside and wait for them to start melting.
  • Set a timer for every 5-10 minutes (depending on how hot it is outside and how fast you think the ice will melt) to check on the bowls to see how the ice changes as it starts to melt! Also – if you opted to blend colors together in the bowls (i.e. red and yellow) note how it takes some time for the colors to blend together as the ice melts into water.

 Hopefully you can have as much fun running this experiment with your kids as I did! Good luck!

 

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