Painting With Colored Ice
Colors and creativity flow when you offer exciting new art materials
- Grades: PreK–K
Children use fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and creative expression as they paint with colorful ice cubes.
- Warm water
- 4 colors of powered tempera paint
- Ice-cube trays
- Ice-cream sticks (one for each section of your trays)
- Ice cubes
- Heavy white drawing paper
Set Up and Prepare
Invite children to help you make frozen paint-brushes. Fill 2 to 4 ice-cube trays with warm water. Using different colors, add a teaspoon of powdered tempera paint to each cube section. Stir until paint is dissolved. Then place an ice-cream stick in each section and freeze overnight. (It's OK if the sticks don't stand up straight.)
- Together make a list of everything you know about ice. Invite children's comments by asking questions: What does ice look like? Does it have a smell? A taste? How does ice feel? Have children seen ice used in beverages before? What does it do to the beverages? What are other ways children have seen people use ice?
- Next, offer a bowl of ice cubes and invite each child to take one. Talk again about how ice looks, feels, smells, and tastes. But this time investigate the ice hands-on. End by talking about how you might use ice to paint.
- Cover a low table with newspaper. Put out a pile of heavy white drawing paper and ask a few interested children to join you in an art experiment. First, be sure everyone is wearing a plastic smock and has his or her sleeves rolled up. Then bring out one tray of tempera-paint ice cubes. Pop a few cubes out of the tray and invite children to hold the sticks and paint. Watch as the ice leaves colorful prints on the paper.
- As children paint, they'll probably notice the cubes beginning to melt. Be sure to talk about what's happening to the ice. Then bring out a fresh tray and continue your ice-painting experiments.
For younger children
Give children the opportunity to wear gloves or mittens and paint with the ice cubes before trying the frozen paintbrushes. Later, encourage children to talk about the differences between painting with two different kinds of paint.
For older children
When the ice melts, encourage children to experiment by adding greater or lesser quantities of tempera to the water and painting with the resulting mixtures.
Preschoolers need lots of time to experiment with art materials and techniques. Avoid suggesting that children should "draw something." Instead, encourage their free-flowing designs and patterns. Remind children not to taste the ice that has paint in it.
Mix and melt. As the ice begins to melt, encourage children to mix various color cubes together. Observe the new colors the melting cubes create. Invite children to guess what colors might result from various cube combinations.