Magical Ice Coloring

Mesmerize with melting ice and color mixing. Flex your child’s small motor and hand-eye coordination skills while introducing basic science.

WATCH OUT!

This is messy fun! Because food coloring can stain hands and clothes, be sure to wear old clothes and protect your work surface. Check out our FAQ for easy cover-up tips.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. 3 glass or plastic eye droppers. We like to use disposable, plastic eyedroppers like these found on Amazon.
  2. 6 cubes of ice, more if desired. We prefer large, 2 inch square ice cubes from silicon trays like these because they provide a bigger surface for color mixing. But whatever ice you have on hand will do.
  3. Shallow dish or pan to hold the ice, clear or white in color. While we don't normally recommend glass, heavy, clear Pyrex baking pans like this make viewing from all sides possible. Dark colors aren't recommended. 
  4. 3 metal or plastic bowls such as these. We don’t recommend using glass with young ones.
  5. A small amount of water, about a ½ cup, per bowl
  6. Yellow, red, and blue liquid food coloring found here.
HOW TO
  1. Pour about a ½ cup of water in each of the 3 bowls.
  2. Put a few drops of each color of food coloring into each bowl until the color is the desired intensity. We prefer more intense colors, because it makes the effect on the ice more noticeable.
  3. Place the ice cubes in the shallow dish. Using a white container puts the focus on your colors.
  4. Skilly Spark: Discuss primary colors (red, yellow, blue) and how these 3 colors can be used to make all of the other colors in the rainbow:
    • Blue + Red = Purple
    • Blue + Yellow = Green
    • Red + Yellow = Orange
  5. Show your child how to use an eye dropper to pick up some colored water and dribble it on an ice cube.  
  6. Let’s say they choose red. Now watch and talk about how the red water reacts and how it makes designs on the ice.
  7. Then have your child drip a different color water on that same ice cube.  Let’s say they try blue.
  8. When the child is done experimenting with these 2 colors, give all primary combinations a go.
  9. Now let them mix all of the different colors on the ice to see what happens. (Spoiler alert! Brown happens-- but let them find out for themselves.)
  10. As you experiment, all the ice will begin to melt. Take time to talk about the science of melting; how our indoor temperature is above 32 degrees fahrenheit, the point where freezing happens.
 
Keep the fun going
  • Primary and beyond! Dribble and combine some of the new colors you’ve made on another piece of ice.
  • Don't waste a drop, use your melted ice water to create more-- try using it in our Kitchen Science activities right here.