This winter has been a season of seemingly endless snow.  We here in the litlgeek household have done every snow-based activity we could think of, so yesterday, when we became snowed in for the billionth time (maybe a slight exaggeration) we really wanted to find something new and exciting to do with all that white stuff.  Since our boys have been obsessed with color mixing lately, this seemed like it might be a hit…and it was!  In the end, our impromptu activity turned out to be as much about art as it was about science.


Here’s what you will need: You can buy all the stuff you will need to try this great experiment and a bunch of other neat stuff too from the litlshop!

Ingredients:

Snow (you can easily substitute ice/ice cubes)

Food coloring

Water

Salt

Materials:

Deep tray or bowl

Cups

Eye droppers (optional)

Phase 1:

The nice part about this experiment is that it allows the kids to play with the snow without having to bundle them up and take them outside.  This means mom gets a little more time for her morning coffee while the boys get a jump start on their snowy day play.  To get started, I packed two loaf pans with snow and placed them in the freezer while I gathered the rest of the materials.  Initially, I was planning on just letting the boys decorate the snow with food coloring.  However, remembering their puzzlement as I sprinkled salt across the driveway the day before, I decided I would also give them a chance to investigate this seemingly bizarre (in the eyes of a four year old) practice by supplying them with some salt of their own.  Voila! A science experiment was born!

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Steps:

Place the snow or ice in a tray.

Fill cups with water and add food coloring.

Place some salt into a cup.

Phase 2:

We started out using an eyedropper to apply color to the snow, but quickly discovered that it was way more fun to just pour the colored water directly from the cup onto the snow.  I’m still partial to the eye dropper method though…less risk of a major disaster, plus it helps build hand-eye coordination and hand strength.

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Steps:

Use eye droppers or pour some of the colored water directly onto the ice or snow.

Some good questions you could ask:

What do you think will happen when we add the colored water to the snow?

What colors do you think we will make?

Vocabulary you could introduce:

Primary colors- red, blue, yellow

Secondary colors- formed by mixing primary colors

Phase 3:

Once the boys had enough time to examine how the colored water reacted with the snow, we began to sprinkle some of the salt on top of the snow.  Their eyes lit up in amazement as they watched the salt create holes in the snow like magic!  (FYI: The reason behind all of this magic is that salt will lower the freezing point of water, allowing it to melt faster.)

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Steps:

Sprinkle salt onto the ice or snow, then pour the colored water on top.

Some good questions you could ask:

What do you think will happen when we add the salt to the snow?

Why do you think the salt is making the snow melt?

Vocabulary you could introduce:

Freezing- when a liquid gets so cold it turns into a solid

Freezing point- the temperature at which a liquid turns into a solid

Melting- when a solid warms and turns into a liquid

Phase 4:  

Because all of the ingredients are safe to touch, the boys spent some time with hands-on, fingers in the snow exploration.  This allowed them even more experience with color mixing.  For a special bonus, at the end of the experiment, we had a chance to capture some beautiful photos that the boys said reminded them of crystals.

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Buy all the stuff you will need to try this great experiment and a bunch of other neat stuff too from the litlshop!

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder

Wild Science Snow Flake Lab

DuneCraft Science Fun Kits – Make Your Own Snowman

The Snowy Day

SnoWonder Instant Snow – Mix Makes 10 Gallons of Snow

Learning Resources Eye Droppers

McCORMICK FOOD AND EGG COLORING DYE 4 Colors

 

This video and post is for entertainment purposes only. 

 

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