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 (you could try balloons, ice cube trays, jelly moulds or bowls)
  • Water
  • Fruit juice/food colouring to colour and essences (e.g. peppermint, lemon) to add smell (optional)
  • Glitter or plastic animals/shapes (optional)


1. First you can 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. Do you want to add some food colouring or juice to change the colour/add a smell and/or plastic animals, shapes to 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/stage 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

You could have three ice blocks and add salt to one, sugar to another and cinnamon (or another spice) to the third block. You could 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 & Language Communication and language:
Listening and attention
Physical Development

Physical development:
oving and handling

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