Salt and Ice Experiment – Melting Halloween Hands

Spooky treasures, water, salt and ice come together in this awesome Halloween activity for kids!  We’re melting haunted halloween hands today, and the hooligans are having a blast!

A salt and ice experiment is always one of our favourite science activities here in my home daycare. You can see how we’ve done it before with our Ice Age Bin and our Dino Dig.

Haunted Hallowe'en Hand Melt - happy hooligans

We talk about how salt helps to melt ice, and watching how quickly the erosion process takes place is pretty amazing. I’m not sure how much the whole scientific aspect means to the hooligans.  It’s the digging that they remember from year to year.  The task of freeing a bunch of treasures frozen in a block of ice always is so captivating that they always stay at it until every last goodie has been hacked, chopped or melted out of its icy tomb.

Last week I thought to turn this simple kids’ science experiment into a Hallowe’en activity, using surgical gloves, food colouring and some hallowe’en craft items.  It was a hit, and although the hands were quicker to melt than the solid blocks of ice we’ve used in the past, it still kept the girls entertained and learning for close to an hour.

To make our Haunted Hands we used:

surgical gloves and treasures to freeze in the icy hands

 

  • surgical gloves
  • twist ties
  • craft items and hallowe’en dollar store items (beads, buttons, googly eyes, chopped up straws, craft foam pieces etc.)
  • water
  • food colouring

To start, the hooligans dropped the items into the hands and we worked them down into the fingers of the gloves.

Then I filled the hands with water, and holding the glove at the top, I added a few drops of food colouring.  There was a lesson in colour mixing here too, as we didn’t have any orange food colouring, and had to add drops of red and yellow to one glove.  I gave each glove a a twist and secured it tightly with a twist-tie.  You’ll likely have to give them a little shake to distribute the food colour throughout the water evenly.  To be safe, you might want to do this over the sink.surgical glove filled with purple water and halloween items

 

Then we placed the gloves on a cookie sheet and popped the whole thing into the freezer.

A few days later we took them out, and to remove the gloves, I quickly ran the hands under some cold water.  Then with a pair of scissors I made several cuts in the glove, from the wrist as far down to the fingers as I could go without putting too much pressure on the fingers.  Then I gently slid the glove off the hand and fingers.  Take your time and work carefully and gently here so you don’t snap the fingers off.

frozen, water-filled surgical gloves for kids' science experiment

 

Tools and instruments for melting ice with salt:

coloured salt and instruments for melting ice in kids' science experiment

  •  coloured salt (several spoonfuls of salt mixed with a few drops of food colour)
  • syringes and medicine droppers
  • pate knives, small spoons
  • wide paint brushes
  • large shallow storage container
  • bowl of water

We took the whole thing outside to our handy-dandy second-hand coffee table (the best 6 bucks I’ve ever spent), and they got to work:

sprinkling and pouring…

sprinkling salt over ice - kids science experiment

pouring water over ice in a kid's science experiment

and they chopped and scraped and scrubbed…

using pate knives, small spoons and brushes to melt ice with salt in a kid's science experiment

They continued to shake and spoon salt over the ice and they used the syringes and droppers and scoops to transfer into the larger container.

 

kids working together to melt ice with water

And they worked together until they got the very last halloween goody out of the ice.

kids melting frozen ice-hands with coloured salt and water

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Comments

  1. Sara-Sofia says

    Hello.
    I’m so happy to find Happy Hooligans. You give me so much inspiration! I always want to try out all fun things emedeatly – with my own children and with my children at my work.
    Love Sara-Sofia (Sweden)

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi, Sarah-Sofia! I’m so glad you’re following along with us too! Thank you so much for your sweet words. x

  2. teachingyoungchildren says

    So clever! I have to see if I can still fit this surprise for my second grader. Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!

  3. Henley says

    Hey real quick question on the safety parts, I’ve heard of people using salt and ice as a way to produce burns on the skin. I was wondering if you made the kids use tongs or something to prevent this or if the articles I saw were just bogus. Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      Apparently salt and ice will cause burns when held tightly against the skin. It’s an intentional (senseless) activity that teenagers apparently dare each other to do. Similarly, ice would freeze your flesh if you intentionally pressed it against your skin for too long. In an activity such as this, done with toddlers, and supervised by an adult, there isn’t any risk of either happening. So to answer your question, no, we do not avoid touching the ice with our fingers. That’s all part of the fun.

  4. says

    Great project; did it yesterday with a whole mess of three-year-olds and a six-year-old, and they all had a great time as described on my blog. Thanks!

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