All About Ice

Around the Block: An Ice Tour


In Around the Block: An Ice Tour children ages 8 to 13 spend 20 minutes investigating the basic properties of ice. Using common tools such as magnifying glasses and magnets, along with their own senses of sight, touch, and smell, they examine a large block of ice, then discuss and record their observations as a team.

What's the Point?

  • There are observable properties of ice.
  • Physical properties are characteristics of a substance. They do not change. Physical properties include color, smell, freezing and melting points and density.
  • Water can exist in different states; ice is the solid state of water.


For each child

For each group of four to six children:

  • 1 (5-10 lb.) block of ice
    To make your own, you will need:
    • 1 (2–3 gallon) plastic container
    • 2–3 gallons of water; distilled or filtered water preferred
    • Access to a freezer
  • 1 shallow rectangular pan, like a pie or cake pan, to hold the block of ice
  • 1 flashlight
  • 1 small black light (optional)
  • 1 green or red laser pointer (optional)
  • 2–3 magnifying glasses
  • 1 magnet
  • 1 small spatula or spoon to scrape the ice
  • 1 thermometer
  • Paper towels
  • Around the Block: An Ice Tour Instruction Sheet

For the facilitator:


  • Determine the number of stations needed.
  • If you decide to make your own block(s) of ice, begin two days in advance to ensure the ice is frozen solid.
  • Shortly before the activity, for each station: place a block of ice in a pan, and place paper towels, a copy of Around the Block: An Ice Tour Instruction Sheet, and the investigative tools with the ice block.


  1. Introduce the activity by inviting the children to become ice investigators!
    • How might they investigate a block of ice? What properties or characteristics might they want to observe?
    • What tools might they use in their investigations that will help them identify the properties of ice?
  2. Explain that the scientific tools they will be using in their ice investigation will be magnifying glasses, magnets, and flashlights. But there are other tools they can use in their investigations—ones with which they are already equipped!
    • What tools do they have that will aid them in their investigations of the ice? Some of the most useful tools in scientific investigations are a scientist's own senses of touch, sight, sound, smell, and (sometimes — but not today!) taste! Other tools, like magnifying glasses, provide more information than scientists obtain by using only their senses.
  3. Divide the children into teams of four to children. Review the Ice Tour Instruction Sheet with the whole group:
    • What characteristics do they observe about ice?
      • What color is it?
      • What does the magnifying glass reveal?
      • Is ice magnetic?
      • What happens when a flashlight or laser pointer is pointed at the ice?
    • What words would they use to describe the properties of ice?
    • What characteristics do they find the most interesting about ice?
    Advise each team to read and follow the steps on the Ice Tour Instruction Sheet together as they take a tour of the ice. After each team has investigated the ice, encourage them to individually take a few moments to complete their Ice Investigator's Journals. Review the page with them.
  4. Tour the ice! Allow each team several minutes to examine the ice and record their observations.


If the children have started to construct a snow mobile, invite them to record any answers they discovered on the appropriate pieces.

  • When water freezes it turns into__________, which is a solid / liquid / gas. (circle one)
  • When ice melts, it makes __________.

Have them annotate any new questions they have or interesting things they learned on the appropriate shapes of either raindrop, cloud, or snowflake.