Investigating Ice

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Over the month of January and with the sudden change in temperature, our students have begun inquiring about snow, and in connection to our cloud inquiry, how clouds make snow! With inspiration from our network colleagues (@joanne_babalis, @TechieAng, @team_jellybean) who are also investigating similar winter inquiries with their Kindergarten classes, we have been able to share connections, ideas, and wonderings through the blogsphere and twitter verse! To top it off, our ongoing participation in the "What Can You See?" project has allowed us to reconnect with different schools to get a glimpse at what they see during the winter season! Many "Winter - What Can You See?" books have been created and they have given our students a wonderful opportunity to elaborate more on the two big ideas that this project focuses on in relation to the Full Day Kindergarten Curriculum:
1. Children are connected to others and contribute to their world.
2. Children are effective communicators.
Footprints, snow angels, snowflakes, snowmen and ice filled our conversations and our students were even more excited to see such profound similarities, comparisons and connections across our school communities!

In particular, our students not only showed an interest in snow, but with the cold weather, they began collecting pieces of ice from our playground at recess time and began posing questions, theories and wonderings about how ice is made, where it comes from and the possible connections and comparisons to snow! With their excitement, Ms. Theis and I couldn't help ourselves but dive into their discoveries with them. As a result, we have begun to investigate their scientific questions and plan learning opportunities that truly encompass their natural curiousity for their surroundings with seasonal changes as a backdrop for learning.

Here is what our students had to say when investigating, observing, and questioning the collected ice in a bin:
What do you see?
"I saw it was melting and it was water." - A.C.
"It is white." - G.B.
"It looked like it was very watery." - J.S. (JK)
"The ice is dripping because your hand is hot! When the sun is shining down the ice is melting you know." - E.S.
"The ice looks like its melting because it's warm inside." - W.V.
"It looks gray and water. Maybe there's dirt." - T.B.

What do you think?
"When the snow falls down and it's yesterday, then it turns into ice." - A.C.
"Maybe ice is water." - S.M.
"Ice is coming from the clouds and snow." - T.B.
"The snow gets frozen and it turns into ice." - R.L.
"When the snow falls down and the weather gets colder it turns into ice." - I.D.
"It's water frozen." - J.S. (SK)

What do you wonder?
"Ice comes from clouds. There are two parts to a cloud: one side is full of rain and one is snow and then when it's winter time, the clouds make snow. The middle of the cloud makes ice and falls like a snowflake to the ground." - S.M.
"The cloud goes down to the pond to drink water and then the machine makes ice and then falls down. The machine flies in the air and the cloud eats the machine to get the ice and then the ice falls down to the ground." - A.M.

What does it feel like?
"It feels really cold. It's hard." - C.M.
"It feels kind of bumpy." - W.F.
"It has holes in it and the water comes from inside it because I can see the water." - G.B.
"It's pretty cold to me and pretty 'breaky.'" - E.S.

To expand on their thinking and provide our students with an authentic way of exploring their theories and questions, we decided to plan another experiment! Our students have truly encapsulated the role of being a "scientist" and the process of making hypothesis' (a guess), making a materials list and recording their observations as research teams. This experiment gave students the opportunity to explore an "ice ball" (water that had been frozen in balloons) under the light  of a flashlight and see what happens to it when different materials (e.g. salt, sugar, food colouring) are added to it. Once we turned the lights off in the classroom and turned on all the flashlights, our group of scientists shouted out that our classroom looked like "space" as all the lights shone on the ceiling!

Before they broke off into their research teams, we had students make predictions about what they think would happen when sugar was put on their ice ball and again, when salt was put on their ice ball. Once they begun, they worked as teams to investigate their initial theories.

Students were amazed when they heard "cracking sounds," saw ice cracks, holes and more in their ice balls! Food colouring droppers took their fascination one step further as they witnessed the colour travel throughout, on top, and inside their ice ball changing it's colour and providing a new glow!

 Toothpicks were used to poke, test, and see the details around how their ice ball was changing before their eyes! The light certainly made it even more spectacular and the water bins on each table led to many connections to our previous floating and sinking experiment. It's so amazing to see our students make such meaningful connections to all that we've learned this year and continue to engage in such robust thinking with all that they do daily in our classroom! One of our students even grabbed a clipboard and began circulating the room to take notes of the other research teams and what he was observing! 

Take a look at how our classroom scientists used the ice balls to come to the following conclusions:

"We used our hands and the food colouring and the flashlight to see what was happening." - L.D.
"We used the toothpicks to see the holes and it became a hole and we made it colourful!" - I.D.
"Our ice turned prickly because the salt melted it." - S.M.
"When we put salt in the water and then on the flashlight it made a sound! It was cracking." - I.D.
"When we put sugar on the ice, we couldn't see the ball anymore. It didn't make a sound." - R.L.
"The ice changed colour when I dropped green on it. It went inside the ball." - R.F.
"The ice stayed ice with the sugar." - E.S.

This experiment and with snow becoming more visible on the ground (and hopefully here to stay), has certainly led to interesting conversations within our classroom. Some of our students have begun writing about ice, making books, and even better, taking their learning home and investigating ice with their families!

Our hope is to take this curiousity to the next level by continuing to make connections to our cloud inquiry and investigate seasonal changes. We look forward to continuing to share our learning journey with you and we can't wait to see and hear from our students as our cloud inquiry reaches new heights!


  1. Love this! I never thought to create research TEAMS! I love the whole investigation and the questions that were asked. What do you see, think, wonder, etc. I am so excited to read more of your blog! You are truly inspiring me on my journey to become more project/inquiry based! I will be visiting you blog often!

    1. Hi Darla!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog! I truly love sharing all the learning that goes on in our classroom and it makes me so happy to hear that I'm inspiring others! So thank you!

      I actually got those amazing inquiry prompts (What do you see, think, wonder) from an article entitled "Making Thinking Visible" by Ritchart and Perkins - It's a great article and worth reading!

      I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you and hear how your classroom projects are going!


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