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5 winter activities for kids that go beyond baking soda volcanoes

When winter comes knocking, it means more indoor time, especially when those temperatures dip below freezing. It typically doesn’t take long for the kids to get bored. If you’re looking for some cool activities to keep your toddler busy on those too cold and inclement weather days, think science. Kids of all ages love science because most of the activities are hands-on. Toddlers are the perfect age for introducing simple science activities that touch on basic concepts because they are super curious about everything, and that’s why winter science activities for toddlers are always a hit. Sure those baking soda volcanoes are exciting, especially when the vinegar gets things bubbling, but winter is the ideal time to get frozen and we don’t mean with Elsa and Olaf.

toddler walking in the snow with a magnifying glass

Winter science activities for toddlers

Winter itself and the icy world outside of the window is a science experiment in the making. Here are five super cool activities toddlers will enjoy. If you’ve got older children, don’t worry. These activities can be adjusted to make them intriguing for older kids, too.

Melting snow

An extremely simple and basic winter science activity for toddlers is to bring the snow indoors and experiment with melting. The materials for this experiment are probably already in the kitchen.

Materials:

  • snow (if there isn’t any snow available, freeze some water in three Tupperware containers the night before)
  • water
  • salt
  • food coloring
  • dropper

Directions:

  • Go outside and collect some snow. If snow is unavailable use the frozen ice in the containers instead. Set the containers in warm water to help the ice come out more easily.
  • Divide the snow onto three cookie sheets or dollar store aluminum pans.
  • Allow one pan to melt on its own.
  • Using the eyedropper, have your toddler put drops of water onto one pan of snow and watch how the water melts the snow.
  • Sprinkle salt on the third pile of snow.

Observations:

For toddlers, keep it basic. They will notice the water and salt melt the ice and snow faster than the air. For older children, you can discuss the science behind their observations. Water has a higher temperature than snow or ice, which is why it works to melt it faster than air. Salt melts snow and ice quickly because it lowers the water’s freezing point. The scientific term is freezing point depression.

Once the experiment is finished, let the kids have some fun dripping different colors into the craters created by the salt and water using the eye droppers and food coloring.

Create crystal snowflake ornaments

Crystals are pretty cool and a kid favorite because of those wonderful colors and shapes. Sure, you can get a crystal kit to grow crystals for the kids, but you can do it yourself with Borax and hot water. Making crystal snowflakes is a two-step project that starts with fashioning snowflakes from pipe cleaners. Toddlers will need a little help to create the snowflakes, but older kids will do just fine on their own. It’s always best to make a sample for kids to follow. Once you’ve put together the snowflakes, it’s time to start growing those crystals. Natural Beach Living offers up an easy way to grow crystals without buying an expensive kit. When they’re all done, place a branch in a vase and decorate it with the snowflake crystals for a stylish winter centerpiece.

How cold does it have to be to freeze water?

Another super simple science experiment to get toddlers interested in the changes winter brings to the outside world is to observe how cold the temperatures need to be for water to freeze outside.

Materials:

  • Ziploc bag
  • water
  • small toy
  • tape
  • outdoor thermometer (if you don’t have one, the temps on your smartphone work just fine)
  • calendar

Directions:

  • Take a small toy and place it inside a Ziploc bag.
  • Fill the bag halfway with water.
  • Seal and hang it on the outside of the patio door where your child can find it each morning.
  • Each morning have your toddler check to see if the water in the bag is frozen or melted.
  • On the calendar, record the results. Write an F for frozen or M for melted along with the temperature.
  • Record observations for a week.

The science behind the experiment

On days when the morning temperatures dip below 32 degrees, the water will be frozen. The experiment shows kids how cold it needs to be for water to turn to ice.

frozen bubble on a tree branch

Freeze bubbles

Can bubbles freeze outside? You bet! On a chilly day, bundle your toddler up in his or her snowsuit, grab the bubbles and wand, and head outside. Blow those bubbles and watch them freeze. No Elsa needed. For older kids, you can discuss how the outside temperatures of 32 degrees and below freeze the liquid bubbles.

hockey puck on the ice

What can slide on ice?

Future hockey players in the house? Hockey pucks are made of vulcanized rubber which is why they slide so effortlessly across the ice. What else glides on the ice? Grab a few household items and head out to an icy puddle to find out what slides on the ice and what doesn’t. You can do this indoors too, but would need to freeze water on a cookie tray the night before.

Banish those cold-weather doldrums and keep toddlers busy with these fun winter science activities. Science is super for kids because it’s hands-on. Winter is the ideal time to ignite a passion for science indoors or out with these five cool experiments.

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