Your child will love creating artful candy ribbons by pouring warm maple syrup over snow or crushed ice. Not only is it delicious, it’s science!
Want to add some reading enrichment to this cold-weather activity? Pick up a copy of Little House in the Big Woods to read out loud with your child. Chapters seven and eight tell the story of how Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family and friends collected and boiled maple syrup from trees to make maple syrup, maple sugar, and snow candy.
Safety Tips and Hints:
- Hot sugar syrup can cause burns. An adult must heat the syrup and supervise children at all times.
- Allow candy to cool completely before touching or tasting.
- Only use pure maple syrup for the best results.
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- Sauce pan
- Candy thermometer
- Fresh, clean snow or crushed ice cubes
Step 1: Go outside and help your child scout out a spot with clean snow several inches deep for making your candy. Alternately, let your collect and pack down a few inches of fresh snow in a large, flat container, like a casserole dish. (Use crushed ice if you don’t have snow.)
Step 2: Let your child help measure one cup of maple syrup and pour it into a medium sauce pan. With your child at a safe distance from the stove, carefully boil the syrup, stirring constantly until it reaches around 235-240°F (soft ball stage.)
Step 3: Remove the maple syrup from the heat and carefully pour it into a heat-resistant container with a spout, like a Pyrex measuring cup. Let it cool a little bit.
Step 4: Help your child pour wiggly candy lines into the snow to freeze them into shape.
Step 5: When the candy is completely cool, let your child remove it from the snow, using a fork or fingers.
Step 6: Eat your candy right away, or let it warm up and wind it around sticks or skewers to make maple lollipops. Enjoy!
The Science Behind the Fun
Maple syrup is made from tree sap which has been boiled to evaporate most of the water it contains. In this experiment, you heat maple syrup up, evaporating even more water. When the syrup is hot, it can hold all of the sugar, but when you cool it down quickly by pouring it on snow or ice, it can’t hold all the sugar and some solid sugar crystals form, giving the candy a semi-solid consistency. If you carefully evaporate all of the water from maple syrup, you’ll be left with pure maple sugar crystals.
© Quarry Books, 2016/Outdoor Science Lab for Kids
Featured Photos Credit: © Quarry Books