Winter Science Experiments for Kids

Instructor: Adam Nystrom

Adam owns a Master's degree in Professional and Digital Media Writing. During his time as a graduate assistant, he developed lesson plans for upper-level English courses.

When it's cold outside, changes in the environment can make for some great learning experiences for kids. Check out this article to find some experiment ideas for the winter months.

Frozen Bubbles

Blowing bubbles isn't just a summertime treat. When it's really cold outside (like around 10ºF/-11ºC), take the kids outside to show them how much fun this 'summertime' activity can be in the winter.

Frozen soap bubble
Frozen soap bubble

You'll need:

  • Bubble solution (essentially just soap and water)
  • Bubble maker (like a wand, straw or even a bubble machine)

1. Dip your wand or straw in the bubble solution (or pour the solution into the machine as directed).

2. Blow bubble up as high as you can.

Depending on how cold it is outside, most of your bubbles will freeze before they hit the ground. Some might break or crack, but your kids can look at the cool patterns created on the surface of the bubbles.

Explain how and why things freeze, what changes happen during the phases of freezing and melting, and try out another experiment with these fun lessons:

Melting Ice

Making ice is easy (especially if you have a freezer), but this experiment lets kids find out different ways to melt ice. Give them different ice-melting ingredients to show them how to liquefy their ice cubes quickly or very, very slowly.

You'll need:

  • Six ice cubes
  • Four containers to melt the ice in
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Warm water
  • Cold water

1. Put one ice cube into each container and set them outside.

2. Add salt to one container, sugar to another, warm water to the third, and cold water to the fourth container.

3. Put the remaining ice cubes on the sidewalk - one in a shady area that will get no sun, one in an open area that will not get shade.

4. Check the ice cubes every few minutes to see how quickly they melt (or don't!).

This experiment is also a little dependent on the outdoor temperature, but kids can find out which ice cubes melt more slowly and which melt into a little puddle in no time based on their location and what they come in contact with.

To help kids understand the science behind the changes in the ice, go over the following lessons with them:

Making Ice Crystals

A long-term project for kids in really cold areas where it gets to freezing and below fairly frequently involves making 'ice crystals' out of salt. As a side-experiment, kids can compare the time it takes to freeze water with and without salt in it.

Ice crystals made of salt
Ice Crystals

You'll need:

  • Two shallow pans
  • Water
  • Salt

1. Put about an inch or so of regular tap water in each pan.

2. Add some salt to one of the pans.

3. Monitor the pans every few minutes (or hours, depending on how cold it is outside) to see which one freezes first.

4. Bring the saltwater pan inside after it freezes and put it in a warm place, like near a window where it can get light. Replenish the water periodically, but check it each week to see the crystals grow.

This two-fold experiment shows kids that introducing salt to water affects its freezing time. Kids can then watch their salt/ice crystals grow throughout the winter months and see how big they get by spring.

The following lessons can engage your kids in learning about the different states of matter and safety tips when performing experiments:

Homemade Snowstorm

Kids love snow! This experiment is winter-themed, but can be done any time and is great for kids who live in warmer climates.

You'll need:

  • Two small jars
  • Baby oil
  • White paint
  • Water
  • Stirring stick or spoon
  • Alka-Seltzer tablet
  • Glitter (optional)

1. Put some baby oil in a jar.

2. Thoroughly mix the white paint and water in a separate jar.

3. Add the paint/water mixture to the baby oil.

4. (Optional) Add glitter.

5. Once the mixture has settled, drop in broken pieces of Alka-Selzer.

The combination of these ingredients makes an active snowstorm in a jar, and the kids can watch the snowstorm begin to swirl. Adding glitter makes the snow sparkle!

To help you explain how and where events like snowstorms happen, you can use Study.com's lessons on precipitation and climates in your classroom:

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