This salt and ice experiment is a perfect Halloween science activity for home or the classroom. Not only are these haunted hands fun to make, kids will learn how ice and salt react together making this a nice little science experiment for daycare or preschool.
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.
We talk about how salt helps to melt ice and we make observations as we see the ice melting. However, it’s digging the the actual digging that captivates the hooligans. 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 goody has been hacked, chopped or melted out of its icy tomb.
Last week I thought to turn this simple kids’ science experiment into a Halloween activity, using surgical gloves, food colouring and some Halloween 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.
You may also like our Monster Hands craft and Skeleton Handprint craft.
For this Halloween salt and ice experiment, you’ll need:
- surgical gloves (amazon affiliate link)
- twist ties
- craft items and hallowe’en dollar store items (beads, buttons, googly eyes, chopped up straws, craft foam pieces etc.)
- food colouring
Fill the gloves
To start, the hooligans dropped the items into the gloves and we worked them down into the fingertips.
Then I filled the gloves with water, and added a few drops of food colouring.
There was a lesson in colour mixing here. We didn’t have any orange food colouring, so we added a few drops of yellow and red to one glove to make it. I gave each glove a a twist and secured it tightly with a twist-tie.
Then I gave the hands a little shake to distribute the food colour evenly throughout the glove. To be safe, you might want to do this over the sink.
Freeze the gloves
Then we placed the gloves on a cookie sheet and popped the whole thing into the freezer.
The next day, we took our frozen hands out of the freezer, and removed the gloves.
To get the surgical gloves off the ice hand easily, 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 so you don’t snap the fingers off.
Tools and instruments for melting ice with salt:
Next, I rounded up an interesting collection of tools and instruments for the children to melt the ice and dig for their treasures with.
- 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 the kids got to work:
The sprinkled and poured…
and they chopped and scraped and scrubbed…
They use the spoons and shakers to distribute salt all over the ice, and they used the syringes, droppers and scoops to transfer water from the bowl on to the icy hands.
They worked together until they got the very last Halloween goody out of the ice.
What a fabulous learning activity!
Edited to add: We’ve since done this experiment again for a “Disney Frozen” theme. Check out our Melting Elsa’s Frozen Hands Activity!
More fall crafts and activities for preschoolers
21 Esay Halloween Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers
10 Fun Fall Activities for the Backyard
Follow the Hooligans on Facebook
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.
These are utterly awesome and hilarious! We have yet to do any ice and salt experiments but this is such a fun way to do it!
Oh I did not see this coming and I LOVE IT!!!!!!
Katie @ Gift of Curiosity
*LOVE* this Halloween twist on a classic activity! The hands turned out really cool looking, and this looks like such fun!
What a great idea for a fun Halloween experiment! I have to do this with my girls!
Oh yeah, this was totally fun, Tracey! I hope you do try it!
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)
Hi, Sarah-Sofia! I’m so glad you’re following along with us too! Thank you so much for your sweet words. x
Love your creativity with this activity. It looks like soooo much fun!
Aw thanks, Jaime! This one really was a lot of fun!
How cool is this! Wow. Thank you for sharing. Am pinning.
Renae M Eddy
My kiddos would love this! I’m going to have to see if I can track down some gloves. Thank you for sharing!
So clever! I have to see if I can still fit this surprise for my second grader. Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!
Helen @ Peakle Pie
I think this is a great idea! Off to find some plastic gloves now! Thank you for sharing on We Love Weekends!
We love this! Thanks for sharing on the Weekly Kids Co-Op. We are featuring this weeks Triple T Mum Kids Co-Op link up!
This is both brilliant and hilarious 😉 I always appreciate an activity with a sense of humor! Thanks so much for linking up to Discover & Explore this week!
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!
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.
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!
I did this with my kids today, but instead of freezing them, we made spooky hand sensory bags and just tied the glove off. Highly recommend using Q-tips too. They make good bones. 🙂 Thanks for the idea!!