Melting frozen hands! When it comes to easy science activities for toddlers and preschoolers, this one is a winner! Make a batch of these ice hands the night before and let your kids observe what happens when they sprinkle them with salt.
This simple salt and ice activity is perfect any time of the year. We happened to do it in winter, but we’ve done similar experiments in summer-time, and they’re always a blast.
Note: If your kids are fans of Disney’s “Frozen”, see our “Melting Elsa’s Frozen Hands” experiment.
I was inspired to make our frozen hands when I spied a photo of some similar hands on Takoma Park’s Facebook page, I immediately thought “Oooh! We need some of those!” If you’re not familiar with Lesley from Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School, I highly recommend that you visit her blog. She has a deep respect for children and a real appreciation for the value of play.
Lesley also has a gift for studying a child immersed play, and pointing out to her readers what that child might really be thinking and learning while playing. You can see what I mean here, in her post about Dramatic Play. I love that she never takes child’s-play at face value. She is truly an inspiration in the early childhood field.
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Prepping the Hands
- Fill a glove with water. Leave yourself a couple of inches at the top because you’re going to have to twist it shut.
- Add a drop or two of food colouring, and shake the glove to disperse the colour.
- Twist glove tightly a couple of times and secure snugly with a twist-tie.
- Lay glove in baking pan. (the pan will catch any water in the even that a glove leaks.
- Place pan in freezer overnight, or if outside temps are cold enough, place the gloves outside overnight like I did.
I really didn’t have a plan for the hands at first. I simply set them out in the sandbox early one winter morning, knowing the hooligans would discover them when we went outside to play.
How to remove ice hand from glove:
You can see that some of the ice fingers broke when I was removing the latex gloves. The trick to preventing the fingers from snapping off is to run the gloved hand under a bit of water, and very gently slide the glove off. You have to take your time when you’re working on the fingers. You may have to dribble a little water into the glove, but be careful not to melt the fingers with the water.
When the kids discovered the colourful frozen hands sitting in the sand, they were a little puzzled, and not sure what to do with them, so they loaded them into a basket and brought them up to the back deck. It was then that I thought to get the salt.
For those of you who have never done a salt and ice activity with your kids, you have to try it! The hooligans love it when we set out to melt ice with salt. We do it at least once a year, and it always holds their attention until every last bit of ice has been dissolved or turned to mush. Not only is it engaging and fun, a salt and ice activity is a chemistry lesson that never fails to impress kids of all ages.
How To Do The Experiment:
- colourful ice hands
- a shallow pan, container or tray to put your icy hands in
- salt (I used driveway salt, but table salt would work as well)
- bowl to hold your salt
- scoops and spoons
I placed the hands in a foil baking pan and filled a separate plastic dish with driveway salt. I supplied the hooligans with a few scoops and spoons. The kids got to work sprinkling the salt on the hands. As the ice melted, the salty water pooled in the bottom of the pan, and they were able to scoop that all over the hands to speed up the melting process.
They were fascinated to see that the ice started melting as they added the salt. It was really cool to see the cracks and crevices that formed and to watch the hands dissolve as they added more and more salt.
This is an activity that could easily be done inside, and if you’re looking for a way to give your hooligans even more of a mission, add some buttons, beads and other small toys to the gloves like we did with our haunted hallowe’en hands. Your children will work until they’ve released all of the goodies from the ice!
More Salt Experiments and Activities for Kids:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.