We woke up this morning to a magical frosty wonderland!
L and N immediately wanted to go out and investigate but being a school morning, there wasn’t time. Fortunately, the frost lasted all day and made for a super after school playtime, which was a welcome break from the whirlwind run-up to Christmas, as we all lost ourselves in play :-).
First, we went for a walk and explored the frost with all our senses.
N thought it looked like sugar. L already knew it was “ice crystals”. Both decided it was made from water.
We investigated how it felt (we found that it was cold, wet and crunchy. We found that it melted on our fingers (L could predict that this would happen, and both knew it was because we had warm fingers).
F also had a close up look and feel of some frosty leaves and grass:
All three children enjoyed playing in the frosty leaves for quite a while and it was just lovely to watch how they all enjoyed the same sense of wonder and enjoyment of nature, and how this spanned the difference in their ages. They really were more similar than different in the way they enjoyed this, and it made me very glad to have decided to go outside when it would have been so easy to put the telly on. It also struck me that this was more of a break than the telly would have been – it took us outside the daily routine and gave us what felt like a peaceful interlude in a week of frenetic activity.
We had an even closer look at the frost crystals with a magnifying glass:
Then carried the magnifying glass around the garden looking at the frost in different locations, and the ice in the bird bath – L and N were both really interested.
We found that the frost had stuck leaves together:
We discovered how the leaves and grass felt crunchy to walk on, and that if we were really quiet we could hear the ground crunching as we walked. We noticed that we left footprints in the grass.
We drew in the frost on the car window:
And seeing as I had said we were going to use all our senses, and L is a bit of a pedant, we also smelt and tasted the ice!
N then decided to take some frosty leaves into the house to watch the frost melt next to the warm radiator:
Once inside, we decided to have a go at making frost in a jar, and finding out how frost is formed. We used this experiment from Weather Wiz Kids as a guide.
We used some of the Christmas ice still in our freezer from our ice play.
First we crushed the ice. L was very keen to take on this job, and with the ice in a freezer bag, he used a rolling pin to bash it, with plenty of boy-noise to accompany the action. We put the crushed ice in a jar, and added some salt.
We left the jar to stand for five to ten minutes, and frost duly formed on the jar.
For those of you wondering why this happens, the answer is this:
1. The salt lowers the melting point of ice, accelerating the melting.
2. Melting the ice lowers the temperature inside the jar, so the temperature of the salt/ice/water solution falls below freezing.
3. Water droplets in the air outside the jar freeze on contact with the outside of the jar, forming a frost.
So the frost outside forms when the temperature of the ground outside falls below freezing, causing water particles to freeze on contact. This fascinated L, who was interested in the difference between frost and snow, and he was amazed that the frost had formed “its own self” and not fallen from the sky.
We also talked about using salt to melt the ice on the roads – and to finish off, all three children had an exploratory play with the rest of the ice and a tray of salt!