Theme: Winter

Ice Globes

Objective: Children will explore how water reacts on a round, frozen surface.

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What You Will Need

Note: Balloons are used in this activity, but they are removed before the exploration.

  • Latex-free balloons - 1 per child, plus a few extra
  • Water - enough to fill each balloon
  • Foil pans - 1 per child (to place the globes in as children are exploring)
  • Magifying glasses - 1 per child
  • Pipettes - 1 per child
  • Cups - 2 per child
  • Food color - 1 bottle each of blue and yellow

What To Do

Note: This activity requires balloons to be filled and frozen at least two days before the exploration. Before taking the frozen balloon globes into the classroom, remove the balloons and discard them.

  1. Distribute the ice globes in the foil pans and the magnifying glasses to the children.
  2. Allow the children some time to examine the ice globes (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  3. Ask children what they think might happen if water were dripped onto the globe.
  4. Tell the children that they will be exploring what water will do when dripped onto a frozen round surface.
  5. Distribute pipettes and one cup of colored water to each child.
  6. Tell the children to use the pipette to drip the water onto the frozen surface.
  7. Give them some time to explore, and then introduce the second color of water.
  8. Allow the children to continue exploring until the ice is melted.
  9. Discuss their findings (see Guiding Student Inquiry).

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe what the ice globe looks like.
  • Explain what happened when you dripped the colored water onto the frozen surface.
  • Tell me what you think might happen to the ice globe if we keep it in the classroom.
  • Describe what might happen if you use a different color on the ice globe.
  • Explain what happened to the ice globe when we dripped the second color onto it.
  • Describe what happened to the ice globe at the end of our activity.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Make a block of colored ice by freezing colored water in an empty orange juice carton, and let the children examine it with their magnifying glasses. Have them compare the ice block to the ice globes.
  • Try giving the children some salt to sprinkle on the frozen globe. Discuss the difference between melting the ice while using salt and melting the ice using plain water.
  • Try adding a few drops of two different colors to the water before freezing the balloon. Have the children examine the frozen globe and compare it with a frozen globe without any color added. The melting colors will stain the surface; be sure to put the colored globe in a pan.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe the patterns in the frozen globe?
  • Could children describe that the water made paths when it was dripped onto the frozen surface of the globe?
  • Could children describe that the water made new paths when the second color was dripped onto the globe?
  • Could children explain why the frozen globe melted?

Did You Know?

Ice will begin to melt as soon as it touches something that is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The children used room-temperature water to drip onto the frozen globes so that they could examine the effect of the water on the ice. Colored water was used in the exploration so the children could see the path that the water took on the frozen globe.

Did You Know?

Ice is water that has been frozen. Raindrops can freeze as they fall from the sky. Freezing rain is a type of winter storm where rain freezes as it falls and then collects on surfaces as a thin coating of ice. Frozen raindrops are too small and thaw too quickly to observe—so, to create a similar shape, we examined water that was frozen in balloons. When water is frozen, it provides interesting patterns for exploration. The patterns are caused by tiny air bubbles that get trapped as the water freezes.

Learn More


  • water - a clear liquid that has no taste or oder. Water takes the form of rain, rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.
  • ice - water in a frozen, solid state.
  • globe - a round ball.
  • pipette - a long, narrow plastic tube used for drawing liquid up and squirting liquid out of the tube.
  • surface - the flat outside of something.
  • frozen - when a liquid becomes a solid from cold temperatures.


  • water
  • ice
  • globe
  • pipette
  • surface
  • frozen

Child-Friendly Definitions

Lesson Tips

  • Keep the globes in the freezer until the last possible moment.
  • Allow plenty of time for the children to examine the interesting patterns that the water makes when frozen inside the balloon.
  • The food coloring will stain clothing, surfaces, and carpeting. Have the children wear smocks, and protect all classroom surfaces with old shower curtains or plastic sheeting.


  • Ice (Weather) by Helen Frost
  • Ice Is... Whee! (Rookie Readers) by Carol Greene
  • Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice by Steve Metzger
  • See Ice, Think Twice: A Story About Ice Safety by Danielle Alise Dunlap

Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.[2]

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Important Legal Disclosures & Information

  1. While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

  2. There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.

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