I know I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but water is a big part of our outdoor fun. So in the winter, this often means ice. Usually this consists of an impromptu walk around the yard finding tidbits of ice here and there that are leftover from the latest rain shower and have frozen overnight – a couple of inches in a wheelbarrow, a couple of chunks in a flowerpot, etc. Many times we even leave a little water out on purpose in cups and bowls to see what happens.
Living in the Southeast, the weather is not always conducive to outdoor ice experiments (Check out last year’s post about freezing nature items.) And aside from a few stray icicles and slick spots we’ve found at the crags recently, this year was shaping up to be similar to the last one. But when the polar vortex swooped in last week and brought our temps down to single digits for the first time in I can’t remember when, I knew it was time to break out the water-to-ice science lessons again! This time we kept it simple, as our experiment only required 3 materials: water, food coloring, and ice cube trays (although any size freezable container would work.) We filled our trays with water, dropped a wee bit of food coloring in each hole, and voila! Our experiment was ready to be put out in the cold. C was pretty excited about seeing what would happen to the water, so he checked on it once before going to bed that night – he was THRILLED to observe that some of the cubes were already starting to harden into ice!
The next morning everything was frozen solid, but by the afternoon the sun was blazing – perfect for making ice sculptures of all sorts! C’s creative wheels got turning and he found uses for everything in our yard INCLUDING the kitchen sink (the basin in his mud kitchen was a GIANT chunk of ice!) His favorite part was using his new tools (including safety goggles!) he got for Christmas to chisel out all the twigs and pine needles that had gotten “stuck” in the ice overnight.
On this particular day, it was sunny and a seasonably warm 45 degrees outside by the afternoon (as compared with only 6 degrees the morning before…), which meant that gloves were not a necessity. However, our household generally has a rule that gloves/mittens are mandatory anytime ice/snow/below freezing temps are involved. This season we got a chance to try out Mittz from STONZ Wear. These mittens are very durable, with lots of extra bells and whistles. The wrists are VERY long, with two adjustable toggles, which means they easily go on over a heavy jacket and stay put. Though not water-proof when submerged in water, they are plenty water resistant enough for a day on the ice or in the snow. My favorite part is that they are machine washable, since most of our ice excursions end up melting into a puddle of mud! The only somewhat negative thing worth noting about these mitts is that they seem to run pretty big – my little guy is almost 4 and he still has a lot of extra room at the tips of his fingers. For just general playing outside, it’s not a big deal, but he gets easily frustrated with anything that involves any sort of hand dexterity or fine motor skills. Of course, I’d much rather have them too big than too small, and he will outgrow them soon enough i’m sure, so no real complaints here – but it’s worth keeping in mind, especially if your child is on the younger side of the 2-4 range.
But whether you’re up to you armpits in ice, or have to make your own from the freezer, I’d love to know what fun water cycle experiments your family likes to do in the winter.