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Art with Salt and Ice
Type: Projects   Skills: Critical ThinkingScience & Environment
This art project allows children to create their own colorful ice sculpture by using rock salt and food coloring on a solid block of ice. The entire activity is like a mini-science lesson because it teaches kids the physical reaction of salt on ice. Art with Salt and Ice
What We Learn
This art project is great for teaching problem-solving and encouraging kids to be persistent. In addition, it teaches them the concept of solids transforming to liquids. It also promotes hand-eye coordination and allows kids to use their fine motor skills. And finally, it encourages language development, because children are excited by what they see happening and want to talk about it.

This is an open-ended activity, so there’s really no right or wrong way to do this project. Kids will not feel anxious about whether they are “doing it right.” It’s really great for building kids’ self-esteem.
Supply List
Cardboard milk carton
Rock salt
Eye droppers
Food coloring
First, fill half-gallon cardboard milk cartons with water and allow them to freeze overnight into solid blocks of ice.

You can do this activity outdoors or indoors, but if you do it inside, you’ll first want to cover your table with plastic. For kids around four or five years old, you can encourage their problem-solving skills by bringing the cartons of solid ice out onto a table and telling the kids, “OK, we are doing this activity, but it’s up to you to figure out how to get the ice out.” If they give up and say, “We can’t do it,” then encourage them to be persistent and work together on how they might be able to accomplish it. Two or three year-olds won’t have developed the motor skills to be able to take the ice out of the cartons by themselves, so you’ll need to assist them.

Once the blocks of ice are out of their containers, take the blocks of ice and stand them upright in a pan or plastic container (to capture the water from the ice block as it melts). Talk to the kids about the chemical reaction that ice has when salt is sprinkled on it. Allow the kids to sprinkle rock salt onto the top of their blocks of ice.

Next, let them choose different colors to squeeze onto the tops of their blocks of ice with eye-droppers. The food coloring will run through the cracks that the salt makes in the ice and will create a really beautiful ice sculpture. For younger kids, handling the eye-dropper will be a challenge, so they should be shown how to use one and encouraged to keep trying until they succeed.

Encourage the kids to discuss what they see happening when they add food coloring to their ice sculptures. Remember that an ice sculpture is only temporary. You may want to take a Polaroid or digital photo of each sculpture before it melts away.
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