Learning Activities

Ice Block Art & Melting 

Do you have a child that loves to paint? How about a child who quickly gets bored with white paper and a crayon. Here is a little twist on a basic art activity!

This does take a little before hand preparation, but it isn’t hard. Simply fill a tupperware or bowl with some water and stick it in the freezer over night.

For supplies you will need water color paints, paint brush and a little bowl of ice. I put all these goodies out on a cookie sheet, so as to contain some of the mess. I also threw down a tablecloth under it all.

I put the tupperware upside down on the tray and asked my girls what was under it. My goal with this activity was to ask a lot of questions to prompt some fun discoveries. My youngest quickly grabbed the paint brush and got to work. To make things go a little smoother I always add a bit of water to each color for my 2 year old. This alleviates the frustration of not being able to get the color on her paint brush. (My 2 year old goes from happy-go-lucky to apocalyptic tantrum in 2.5 seconds so I do what I can to make things go a bit smoother.)

My oldest quickly asked, “What are we supposed to do?” I asked her, “What can you do with the different things on your tray?” That was enough to get her going.

My 2 year old could have done this activity for 30 minutes easily. She LOVED it! She was so focused on using different colors. She liked telling me the “ISSSSSE” is cold. She also loved watching the colors mix and drip off her ice. We also discovered if you add a lot of color to your ice you can flip it over and see some of the color through the block. That caused some excitement.


Surprisingly my 4 year old was excited about this activity for about 8 minutes. Then she started asking if she could melt the ice. It is always kinda hard for me when my plan, for an activity, isn’t anyone else’s plan. But I also love how the girls can lead an activity in a way that interests them, it just means more work for mom.

So while the girls added some more color to their ice picture I got Activity Number 2 ready. Lets call this activity…

Ice Melt Activity

For this activity I just added a drop or two of food dye into four small bowls of hot water. Then I added a small dropper for each girl. You could easily use any small scooper, or spoon for this part. I also had a small bowl of salt and 2 small spoons set up to pull into the activity.

The dropper was a bit challenging for my 2 year old but after 10 minutes of practicing with it she was able to do it on her own. I adore the concentration on her face as she works with the dropper.

My 4 year old was more than capable of running the activity on her own. At first she used her favorite colors to pour on the ice. Then I introduced a small bowl of salt to the activity. Each girl used a tiny spoon to transfer the salt onto their ice. Obviously the salt got a good reaction out of miss big sis!

This activity used up a good 20 minutes. I love this open ended activity because all that is required of me is some question asking, maybe a little assisting for the little miss and a lot of smiling, picture taking and being impressed with their discoveries and ideas.

The best part about the dropper is it creates holes in the ice as you squeeze the hot water into the block of ice. These holes are fun to make bigger, crack apart, stick your paint brush into and on and on.

TIP:Instead of telling your little what you see, or what is happening, take the opportunity to ASK THEM what you see or what they are doing or what they are discovering. This helps with communication, problem solving, critical thinking and making them responsible for their own activity. I asked, “What happened when you put the salt on?” “How many pieces of ice have you broken off?” “Where is the biggest hole in your ice block?”

Between dropping warm water on the ice, finding hidden holes, dumping scoops of salt and breaking the ice up this activity kept their attention wonderfully. Even through I hadn’t planned on doing ice melting with this activity it was well worth the bit of extra work as both girls enjoyed it.

I will admit as my 2 year old tried to figure out the dropper their was a few frustration fits that made me want to lock her in her room…but I resisted and was a patient loving mommy and in the end she figured it out and was very proud of herself. If I only had my 2 year old I might have just stuck with the painting, but in the end the ice melting might have been her favorite part.


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