Whether you call them Ice Eggs or Ice Jewels (as my charge today liked to call them), this fun and easy-to-do winter project is a great way to incorporate a lesson with the littles about how water freezes to ice in cold temperatures and turns back to water when warm.
Materials You’ll Need
- Balloons (Large)
- Small Toys
- Food Coloring (Optional)
- Water Faucet
- Freezing Temperatures (32°F / 0°C or below)
Step 1: Add Food Coloring to Balloons
To create colored ice eggs, hold open the top of your balloon and squeeze in 5-8 drops of your child’s desired color using food coloring.
Skip this step if you would like to create clear ice eggs. For a better view of the object inside, I would refrain from using food coloring. Both look great once frozen. If you have enough balloons, try a few of each.
Step 2: Add Small Toy to Balloons
Start by stretching the balloon out a bit. Then, using your index and middle fingers, work your fingers into the neck of the balloon and carefully hold it open to allow your littles to push a small toy to the bottom of each balloon. This may require a little maneuvering and adult assistance. Be careful not to poke a hole into the balloon.
If you do use food coloring, matching a toy that is colored the same as the food coloring can be a fun way to turn your ice eggs into a little eye spy game once frozen.
Step 3: Fill Balloons with Water
Once a small toy and optional food coloring has been added, fill the balloons with warm tap water from your faucet to a desired size and tie them closed. If you used food coloring, be sure to give the water balloons a good shake to distribute the color throughout the water. If you do not shake and mix the food coloring into the water, the color will settle to the bottom as it freezes. Either way it will still look pretty neat!
Step 4: Place Water Balloons Outside (or in Freezer)
If you are doing this activity during winter and the weather is cold enough, you can place the water balloons outside to freeze. Take this opportunity to explain to your child about the effects of cold temperatures with water. Depending on the actual temperature outside, will depend on how fast your water balloons will freeze.
For fastest results lay or hang each balloon separately, and keep them in the shade. While the weather has been cold enough here to freeze our balloons in about 5-8 hours, we left ours out overnight to ensure they were completely frozen. Be careful when handling the balloons during the freezing process, as the rubber of the half-frozen balloons may break before they are completely frozen.
If you are doing this activity during the summer, place water balloons in a freezer overnight.
Step 5: Open Frozen Balloons
Once balloons are fully frozen, lay out a towel and help your littles remove the rubber of the balloon. They are fairly easy to open. Just give it a little tear or cut off the tied end with a scissor and allow your child to remove the rest.
Discard rubber balloons.
Step 6: Play!
Once again, explain to your littles how colder temperatures will freeze water, and ask their opinion on how they think they can make the ice turn back into water to retrieve their toys. We placed our ice eggs in bowls of warm water to watch them melt, and saved a few to play with in the bathtub later tonight. You can also use a magnifying glass for a closer look at the ice eggs, or provide your littles with a spoon to chip away at the ice if you so desire.
We also brought in a bowl of snow to add to the fun and sprinkle into our warm water to watched it melt instantly. Our ice eggs (or jewels) were a big hit today, and we can’t wait to try them in the summer for a fun way to keep cool in the heat.
*Colored Ice Eggs also make great decorations to line a walk way after a winter’s snow storm. Just skip step 2, so small toys don’t get lost outside when everything starts to melt.
Have you created your own ice eggs using this guide? Send us pictures and we’ll share it on our Facebook page!