The days are getting shorter and the weather’s getting colder. By now, your children are probably noticing that they have to wear bigger coats to stay warm and that water freezes when it’s left outside. Nothing can incite scientific curiosity like a season change, especially in early childhood. All seasons are perfect for toddler science activities, but in winter it can be a bit more difficult to find ideas; after all, there are no falling leaves or sprouting plants to catch children’s attention.
That’s where teaching resources come in handy. There are countless books dedicated to science activities for toddlers where teachers can find experiments for every season. One of these is Stephanie Roselli’s The Budding Scientist. With dozens of different toddler science experiments, educators are bound to find the perfect activity for a chilly day in winter.
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- Food coloring
- A freezer
- A large bowl
- A measuring cup
- ½ cup of rock salt
- A small bucket or container
What to Do:
- Ask the children if they have ever seen their parents pour salt on the driveway when it’s cold and slick. Why do they do that? How does it affect the ice?
- Pour ½ cup salt into the bottom of the bucket or container. Fill it with water and place it in the freezer overnight
- The following day, take the bucket or container out of the freezer and turn it upside down in the large bowl
- Squeeze drops of different food coloring into the block of ice
- Observe the ice as it melts and the colors blend. What will happen to the ice? How will the colors change?
- Paper cups
What to Do:
- After a good snowfall, gather a pile of snow from outside
- Ask the children if snow melts faster in the sun or the shade
- Put a handful of snow in a few of the paper cups. Place each paper cup on a plate. Put some of the cups in the sun and some in the shade. Which do the students think will melt faster?
- Observe which cups melt faster. Was the prediction correct?
- With a ruler, measure the melted water in each cup. Is the amount more or less than expected?
- Deep buckets or plastic tubs
- Hot water
- Several containers with tight-fitting lids
What to Do:
- Ask the children what they know about crystals. They may talk about rocks or jewelry. Explain how icicles are a type of crystal too
- Fill several containers ¾ of the way with hot water
- Put tight-fitting lids on the containers and place them in the freezer overnight. Condensation of the water vapor from the hot water will coat the underside of the lids. This will freeze as delicate crystals, while the water will form a solid block of ice
- Take the containers from the freezer. Carefully remove the lids and examine the crystals. They will melt very quickly, so it’s best to freeze multiple containers and take them out one at a time
- Compare these crystals with snowflakes, icicles, and other types of frozen water. How are they alike? How are they different?