Paints aren’t just for paper! Painting on ice connects Art, Science, and sensory in this unexpectedly gorgeous activity.
Painting on ice is the coolest
Watercolors are perfect for paper, stunning on canvas, and extra cool on…ice?!
The first time we set this invitation out for our preschoolers, their eyes grew to the size of watermelons. I heard little voices ask, “Where is the paper?” as their eyes darted back and forth between the ice cubes and me. No paper today here, little humans.
Related: Our GIANT 10-foot coloring banners are perfect for any kinds of paint, too!
When you tell kids they’re painting on ice, prepare for JOY!
It took about 3 seconds of explaining that they were invited to paint on the ice cubes, and they knew exactly what to do.
“The green and yellow made LIME!”
“You can move the colors with your fingers!”
They set to work as though they had been painting on ice for all of their lives, and we haven’t looked back since.
A quick check
When it comes to our projects, we aim for easy and fun.
Let’s see if painting on ice passes the test:
Here are some other easy and fun ice activities for kids:
- Fizzing Ice Experiment with Beginning Sounds – Kindergarten Connection
- Ice Castle Excavation – School Time Snippets
- Homemade Ice Cream – Steve Spangler
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- Large Trays – Think baking sheets, shallow plastic containers, large plastic container lids, etc.
- Our enormous trays are from Costco, but these would work, too!
- Ice cubes
- Watercolor paints or regular kids paint
- Cups of water
We love how quickly this can be set up and enjoyed!
- Place ice cubes inside of a tray (any size works!)
- Set the watercolor paints, cups of water, and paintbrushes around the trays/tables
- Step back and watch the magic
Our rule of thumb is that setting up an art project should never take longer than the kids are actually playing with it. For example, painting on ice takes two minutes to set up and will be played with for much longer (for us, it’s usually out for about an hour).
What happens when you paint on ice?
IT MOVES. Ice cubes slide and glide around and watching kids chase ice cubes around is equal parts hand-eye-coordination goodness and just plain fun.
IT MELTS. As the ice melts, the colors drip down the sides, mixing with paint on other cubes and making rainbow puddles on the bottom of the tray. There is endless color mixing, which all happens right before your eyes.
Also, because there is so much ice together, it doesn’t melt too quickly but rather just enough to keep the colors blending.
Oh, I LOVE when art crosses over into Science because you get double the learning for the price of one. (I love a good BOGO, whether at Sephora or outside with kids!)
What are kids learning?
As a teacher, I can listen to comments by the kids and assess what they’re learning:
- “The red and yellow together made orange!” tells me they’re discovering color theory and learning that two primary colors mixed together make a secondary color.
- “The ice cubes are getting smaller!” tells me that they’re observing the properties of water by watching the ice cube going from a solid state to a liquid state.
- “Look! We made a rainbow!” shows me that the kids are working together by sharing materials and the experience. Most art projects are solo (each child makes their own piece), but this allows children to work collaboratively.
You can set up painting on ice, too
And the best part? Most of us have ice readily available, so this doesn’t take any specialty supply and a trip to Target.
So, think about the money you saved by not going to Target to buy one specialty material and ending up spending $714 on new curtains, a new bedding set, and every flavor of Sun Chips on aisle 5.
I can’t wait to see yours!