Theme: Winter

Ice Towers


Objective: Children will explore building structures with ice cubes and will compare this to building with blocks.

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What You Will Need

  • Ice cubes - at least 12 per child
  • Tools such as tongs, turkey basters, spoons and paintbrushes - several of each per table
  • Waterproof plates or trays - 1 per child

What To Do

  1. Discuss different ways that the children can build with the classroom blocks.
  2. Ask the children if they think it would be easier to use ice cubes for building instead of blocks.
  3. Tell the children that they will be building a tower with ice cubes (see Did You Know?).
  4. Distribute the ice cubes, tools and plates or trays.
  5. Have the children place the ice cubes on the plates or trays as they are building.
  6. Tell the children that they can use the tools to help them with their construction.
  7. Encourage the children to try stacking the ice cubes different ways to build structures.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe the difference between building with blocks and building with ice cubes.
  • Tell me what tools you used to build your structure.
  • Explain how you used those tools.
  • Describe what you did to make your tower sturdy.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Make a game for the children using ice cubes, plastic tubs, and tongs. See who can move their ice cubes the fastest from one tub to another.
  • Let the children be archeologists! Place water in empty juice cartons or milk jugs that have been cut in half. Drop a small toy in the water in each container, and freeze it. Give the children goggles and small tools to free the small toys from the ice blocks.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe the difference between building with blocks and building with ice cubes?
  • Could children explain how they used the tools to help with their construction?
  • Could children describe what they did to make their tower sturdy?

Did You Know?

An igloo is a type of temporary shelter made of snow. An igloo, also called a snow hut or snow house, is constructed of blocks of compacted snow stacked in a dome shape. Hard-packed snow is used to build igloos because of the trapped air pockets, which make a good insulator. Body heat gets trapped inside the igloo, and the thick snow walls block the wind. 

Did You Know?

Many areas in the world have winter temperatures that stay cold for long periods of time. Many communities in these areas have winter festivals. Contests to build structures out of ice are very popular. In some cities, ice palaces, ice castles, and ice sculptures are built and draw huge crowds of tourists. Ice palaces or ice castles are built using large blocks of ice from nearby frozen lakes or rivers. Ice sculptures are three-dimensional works of art that are carved from large blocks of ice.

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Vocabulary

  • ice cube - a small, usually cube-shaped piece of frozen water.
  • tower - a tall, narrow building or part of a building that rises high above the ground.
  • building - to make by joining different parts and materials together.
  • sturdy - strong or solid.
  • tool - an instrument used for work that is usually held with the hands.
  • construction - the act or process of building something.

Vocabulary

  • ice cube
  • tower
  • building
  • sturdy
  • tool
  • construction

Child-Friendly Definitions

Lesson Tips

  • Be sure to have extra ice cubes on hand, as the ice will melt at room temperature.
  • You could allow the children to wear mittens or gloves when working with the ice cubes. Discuss the challenges of handling the tools while wearing gloves or mittens.

Books

  • Curious George Builds an Igloo by H. A. Rey
  • When I Build With Blocks by Niki Alling
  • One Big Building: A Counting Book About Construction by Michael Dahl
  • Look Inside an Igloo by Mari Schuh

Content provided by:

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
Visit the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum website

Kentucky Science Center logo
Visit the Kentucky Science Center website


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.