Today we have been getting in the mood for staring our Christmas crafts with a bit of winter-themed play, continuing from last week when we started exploring the weather by making clouds in a jar. L and I had a look at the water cycle today, making good use of our jar again to demonstrate evaporation and condensation.
Here is how to make it rain inside a jar:
- Place the lid of a jam jar in the freezer and leave it there to get really, really cold.
- Pour boiling water into the jar (warm it first to avoid cracking the jar)
- Screw the freezing cold lid onto the jar
- Place some ice on top of the lid to keep it cold
- Watch as the steam from the water cools on contact with the cold lid, and it “rains” inside the jar.
- Use this to illustrate the water cycle.
L enjoyed this so we did it again. And we were able to link it to the book his class are reading at school, Rala Rwdins, which is a Welsh children’s book about a witch who looks after the weather. We have just ordered this book and it arrived today, so we had a read as part of our weather-focused play.
L was very interested in the ice we used to make the rain jar, and asked if he could play with it, so we set up some sensory play with a tray of ice. I wouldn’t have thought they would like having their hands immersed in freezing cold ice which is why we have never tried this before, but they loved it (well, L and N did, F was not so keen). I’m not sure what L and N did but they played with the ice for quite a while. Instead of the ice we gave F some winter hats and gloves of various different textures (fleecy, woolly, bobbly) to play with, which she liked much better.
L enjoyed putting his hand inside a freezer bag filled with margarine, and discovering that it insulated his hand against the cold ice – we talked about how animals that live in the ice and snow are insulated against the cold by blubber under their skin. Although N wouldn’t put her hand in the margarine and was even too suspicious to touch the outside of the bag, she enjoyed naming some animals – whale, dolphin, polar bear, seal.
We also explored the ice with salt and food colouring – the salt sprinkled on the ice makes little channels through the ice, which the food colouring flows through, making some very pretty patterns actually inside the ice. I personally think this is very cool, and you could make some amazing ice sculptures in this way.
Both of them remember that last winter we “discovered” how to make ice by freezing water, after L asked me where the icy puddles outside had come from. This is over a year ago, and N was only just two at the time, but they still talk about it a lot – which just shows how much all children delight in learning new things.
Today we froze some Christmas ice, ready for more sensory play – we coloured it red and green, and added christmassy treasure to be frozen inside the ice. the “treasure” was mainly card toppers – father christmases, stockings, and gold stars, and a bit of glitter.
We also froze two cups of ice containing a fairy and a unicorn (playmobil figures) – because I plan to repeat with N something I did with L last year, which is to ask how the toy can escape from the ice (let’s see if N can work out that she has to warm the ice to melt it). The problem I had with this last year is that L managed to melt the ice under the tap using water, and so he thought he could dissolve the ice – so this year he is going to try this out with water of varying temperatures, and at varying temperatures without water to make sure he realises that temperature is the important factor.
Here is all our water sitting in the freezer ready to be frozen:
L did want to sit and watch the ice freeze, so I let him for about five minutes before he realised it would take a very long time, and agreed that we could check on it at intervals. The ice was the last thing N mentioned before falling asleep at night, and we will check its progress in the monring!