Friday, July 6, 2012

Theory Thursday: Ice Excavation

What better way is there than to spend these hot summer days playing with ice???

Playing with ice and applying science, of course!

This activity requires time and easy prep. You'll need some sort of container, many miscellaneous trinkets, water, and various excavation tools.

Start by pouring a small layer of water in your container and place it in the freezer until frozen. Add another layer of water and a few trinkets. Put it back in the freezer. Repeat the process until the container is completely full or until your desired fullness.

Some trinket ideas are buttons, coins, paper clips, rubber bands, twist ties, Legos, foam shapes/letters, beads,  screws, pom-poms, keys, balloons, rocks, marbles, and whatever other little things you can find lying around. Long items like rubber bands and twist ties require more chipping and patience. While small items like beads and buttons are easier to extract and produce quicker satisfaction.

Once your ice block is completely frozen, remove it from the bowl, gather your tools, and head outside. 

 We used warm water to melt the ice.

 We tried pouring the water through a tiny funnel to concentrate on a certain spot.

We sprinkled on salt to dissolve the ice and make it easier to chip away. The salt left the ice pitted with little holes.

We also used other tools such as spoons, forks, and picks to dig into the block.

But their favorite was definitely the hammers!

Every time they'd hit the block, ice flew everywhere! Whether it was a big chunk or little specks, it was exciting to experience. 

We even flipped the hammer around and used it like a pickax. That really sent the ice soaring!

There was a surprise tool inside one of the blocks. Once Alyssa freed the screw from its frozen prison, we used it and a hammer to chisel away the ice.

We inspected the objects and the variances in the ice. Some parts were smooth, some had cracks, and other areas had tiny bubbles.

It was so exciting when we'd get a portion of an object partially excavated. The kids would grab it and try to yank it completely out of the ice. When that didn't work, they'd have to go back to chipping away at it.

They had so much fun with this ice excavation. Jake extracted all of his objects, convinced Zac to let him help with his, and tried to sneak a few items from Alyssa's block. He declared that this was "one of the best things ever!" He's asked at least 2,000 times - give or take a few dozen - if we can do this again.



Pin It


  1. This is awesome! We've done something similar once but I love the layering idea. My boys would love this! Thanks for sharing. Visiting from Sunday Showcase.

  2. this looks like great fun, i'll have to try it.

  3. This is a great idea - we usually play with ice in the bath, can't wait till it gets hotter here and we can play outside! We have done coloured ice cubes to explore colour mixing too - that was fun!

    Thanks for linking up to the Sunday Showcase - hope to see you there again next week!


  4. A great summertime learning experience.

    I might try it with a special surprise hidden inside!

  5. I keep meaning to do this with my little one but never get around to it. It wouldn't really take long for her to get everything out in this heat. lol

  6. Great and fun idea! My bugs would love this! Gonna have to try it.

  7. What a great idea! We will have to try this. My daughter loves digging for dinosaurs now we can do so much more!