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January 7, 2019

Ice Cube Science for Young Children

By Deborah Stewart

Engage Pre-K kids in a scientific inquiry of ice using My Big World magazine and a few simple tools.

Grades PreK–K

    Key Takeaways

    • Begin your scientific explorations with simple questions.
    • Identify key words for the children to think about and discuss.
    • Set out materials, tools and trays for the children to discover and explore.
    • Give the children plenty of time to explore the materials.

    I love guiding Pre-K kids in scientific inquiry. This month, I got a big boost from our My Big World subscription. It included an issue AND a poster all about ice! They were just what we needed to launch an inquiry into ice.

    Scientific Inquiry Begins with a Question

    We started our explorations of ice by asking the question, “Can you hold ice in your hand?” A simple question can lead the children to talk about what they already know about a topic — and then lead to extended discussion and inquiry.

    We took a picture walk through our My Big World magazine and discovered important key words associated with ice, such as cold, hard, slippery, snow and melt.

    Now that we had a question and some words to think about, we were ready to see if ice really is cold, hard and slippery, and if it will melt. It was time to put our questions and conversations into hands-on explorations of ice.

    Hands-On Explorations of Ice

    To extend our conversations about ice, the children were given more open-ended, ice-related questions along with several different experiences to encourage hands-on discovery and exploration.

    What happens when we add ice cubes to a cup of water?

    The best way to invite young children to learn about their world is to give the children tools, materials and time to explore their world. We set out a big tub of ice for the different experiences the children had around the classroom. They could go back and forth to the tub to get ice as needed.

    This first experience invited children to add ice cubes to a cup of water. How does the ice change the water? How many cubes can you add to the cup of water? What happens as you add the cubes to the water? What happens to the water? What happens to the ice?

    How long does it take ice to melt?

    The children gathered ice in plastic baggies and taped some of the baggies to a window with lots of sunlight. Then they taped the other baggies filled with ice to a window with very little sunlight. What will happen to the ice in each window? How long do you think it will take the ice to melt?

    Will ice change the way things feel?

    The children found the answer to this question by putting three different spoons in a tub of ice. They added a wooden spoon, a plastic spoon, and a metal spoon. We hid the spoons down deep into the ice and then went on with our conversation. A few minutes later, we dug up each spoon and compared how they felt. The children discovered that the metal spoon was definitely colder than the wooden or plastic spoon and the metal spoon stayed cold for much longer too.

    The Teacher’s Primary Role in Scientific Inquiry

    The children spent the morning exploring ice cubes all around the classroom. My primary role in their explorations was to provide them time to explore, the materials to explore, and to continue asking simple questions that encouraged the children’s natural sense of curiosity. My questions and materials were designed to invite the children to think, test, try, explore and discover the answers all by themselves.

    My Big World is a life-saver when it comes to helping teachers build student interest and curiosity about a topic. I’d highly recommend this delightful magazine to any early educator. If you’d like to try it for yourself, you can start a subscription right here. At just $5.50 a student, it’s worth every penny!

    This month, we had so much fun learning with My Big World! The wonderful photos and key words shared in our   January’s issue on ice opened the door to lots of interesting ways to explore and discover ice all around the classroom.


    Deborah Stewart, M.Ed., has worked in early childhood education for over 30 years. She runs a preschool for children ages 3–5 in Indiana. She also writes the blog teachpreschool.org.

    Key Takeaways

    • Begin your scientific explorations with simple questions.
    • Identify key words for the children to think about and discuss.
    • Set out materials, tools and trays for the children to discover and explore.
    • Give the children plenty of time to explore the materials.

    I love guiding Pre-K kids in scientific inquiry. This month, I got a big boost from our My Big World subscription. It included an issue AND a poster all about ice! They were just what we needed to launch an inquiry into ice.

    Scientific Inquiry Begins with a Question

    We started our explorations of ice by asking the question, “Can you hold ice in your hand?” A simple question can lead the children to talk about what they already know about a topic — and then lead to extended discussion and inquiry.

    We took a picture walk through our My Big World magazine and discovered important key words associated with ice, such as cold, hard, slippery, snow and melt.

    Now that we had a question and some words to think about, we were ready to see if ice really is cold, hard and slippery, and if it will melt. It was time to put our questions and conversations into hands-on explorations of ice.

    Hands-On Explorations of Ice

    To extend our conversations about ice, the children were given more open-ended, ice-related questions along with several different experiences to encourage hands-on discovery and exploration.

    What happens when we add ice cubes to a cup of water?

    The best way to invite young children to learn about their world is to give the children tools, materials and time to explore their world. We set out a big tub of ice for the different experiences the children had around the classroom. They could go back and forth to the tub to get ice as needed.

    This first experience invited children to add ice cubes to a cup of water. How does the ice change the water? How many cubes can you add to the cup of water? What happens as you add the cubes to the water? What happens to the water? What happens to the ice?

    How long does it take ice to melt?

    The children gathered ice in plastic baggies and taped some of the baggies to a window with lots of sunlight. Then they taped the other baggies filled with ice to a window with very little sunlight. What will happen to the ice in each window? How long do you think it will take the ice to melt?

    Will ice change the way things feel?

    The children found the answer to this question by putting three different spoons in a tub of ice. They added a wooden spoon, a plastic spoon, and a metal spoon. We hid the spoons down deep into the ice and then went on with our conversation. A few minutes later, we dug up each spoon and compared how they felt. The children discovered that the metal spoon was definitely colder than the wooden or plastic spoon and the metal spoon stayed cold for much longer too.

    The Teacher’s Primary Role in Scientific Inquiry

    The children spent the morning exploring ice cubes all around the classroom. My primary role in their explorations was to provide them time to explore, the materials to explore, and to continue asking simple questions that encouraged the children’s natural sense of curiosity. My questions and materials were designed to invite the children to think, test, try, explore and discover the answers all by themselves.

    My Big World is a life-saver when it comes to helping teachers build student interest and curiosity about a topic. I’d highly recommend this delightful magazine to any early educator. If you’d like to try it for yourself, you can start a subscription right here. At just $5.50 a student, it’s worth every penny!

    This month, we had so much fun learning with My Big World! The wonderful photos and key words shared in our   January’s issue on ice opened the door to lots of interesting ways to explore and discover ice all around the classroom.


    Deborah Stewart, M.Ed., has worked in early childhood education for over 30 years. She runs a preschool for children ages 3–5 in Indiana. She also writes the blog teachpreschool.org.

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