Exploring ice

Want to help children to gain more knowledge and understanding of the world and to extend their vocabulary? Why not explore ice?

You will need:

  • Various containers to fill with water - be imaginative! You could try balloons, ice cube trays, jelly moulds and bowls)
  • Water
  • Fruit juice/food colouring to colour and essences (e.g. peppermint, lemon) to add scents
  • Glitter or plastic animals and shapes 


1. First, have fun deciding what shapes you would like to create – for example you could fill balloons, an ice cube tray, jelly mould or a bowl with water to freeze.

2. In some of the vessels, add some food colouring or juice to change the colour and add a smell. Adding plastic animals, shapes can help you extend a theme or interest.

3. Freeze your containers until the water is solid.

4. Put the shapes onto a tray (or similar) and then explore the ice shapes with the children.

5. Depending on the age and stage of development of the children you could ask “What does this feel like?” and then support children’s developing language. For younger children you could model touching the ice and appropriate words such as “cold” and “slippery”.

Extension ideas

Make three ice blocks and add salt to one, sugar to another and cinnamon (or another spice) to the third block. Talk about the smells and textures of these added ingredients and then explore which one makes the ice melt the quickest. 

If the weather allows you could put a plastic container of water outdoors overnight and see if the water freezes outside, or find an icicle and bring that indoors to watch it melt.

Areas of Learning and Development (EYFS)

This activity support the following areas of learning and development. For more details, see our factsheet on the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Communication and language Communication and language:
Listening & attention
Physical Development

Physical development:
oving and handling

Personal, Social and Emotional Development Personal, social & emotional development:
Making relationships
Personal, Social and Emotional Development Mathematics:
Shape, space and measures
Understanding the World Understanding the world:
People and communities
The world
Expressive Art & Design Expressive arts and design:
Exploring and using media and materials