Thursday, November 14, 2013

hot and cold: a toddler experiment

Elise is fascinated by hot and cold lately.  She loves watching the fireplace, and "hot!" is one of her favorite words to say.  We've also woken up to snow on the ground a few times, and Elise is beginning to sign "cold."  I decided to put together a simple hot and cold activity, so she could explore these two very different temperatures in a safe way.

I filled two identical tubs:
one with ice and one with hot water.

To get the ice, I poured water in the bottom of a tub, 
and popped it in the freezer overnight.

Elise was very cautious about touching the hot water!  

I didn't want it to be so hot it would hurt her skin,
 but I wanted it to be a little steamy and uncomfortable to the touch.

After her initial observations of the two tubs,
Elise started experimenting...

At first, it was fun to pour hot water onto the ice:
it made loud cracking sounds and broke into pieces.

Then, Elise dropped pieces of the ice into the hot water.
It was a challenge to fish them out before they melted!

We left the tubs out all morning, and checked on them every once and awhile.
It was interesting to see the ice melt and to discover that the hot water
was no longer hot, but actually kind of cold!

Have you done any hot or cold experiments with your kids?  Elise enjoyed this so much, I think we'll do something similar again soon.  Maybe ice in the bathtub?  I'm open for suggestions! :)


  1. This is so simple and yet so good!! I'm certain Finn would love this. You have inspired me to try a little picture sorting with Finn after we have done your hot and cold "experiment": hot places and cold places.

    I read all of your posts but rarely comment as I almost always read them just before heading to work. I love all of your ideas :)

    1. Thanks, Elsa - I get lots of inspiration from you and Finn, too! :) I actually just got some photos printed of hot and cold things around our house - the fireplace, the inside of the freezer, etc - and was thinking about turning them into some kind of activity. They would be perfect for picture sorting!

  2. It sure is a great activity! I have done something similar with Sixtine in the past - you could maybe use food coloring to give a color to the ice cubes which should allow for more visual simulation and understanding of the ice melting...? I have been thinking of freezing little objects into ice cubes to see where that would take us! I am sure they would have a lot of fun doing that!

    1. Yes, I love these ideas, Deb! Food coloring makes perfect sense - then you could actually see the ice melting into the water. Little objects frozen in ice would be extremely fascinating, too - can't wait for E to give it a try! :)

  3. Cool! I mean hot! I mean we gotta try this!!

  4. I guess she's a little young for that, but I remember being extremely impressed by the following experiment.
    There are 3 bowls: one with hot water, one with ice cold water, and one with room temperature water. You put one hand into the cold water and one hand into the hot water and leave them for a little while (30 secs maybe?). When you take your hand out and put them in the room temperature water bowl, the sensation you get on each hand is completely different, because each has different reference temperature. So feeling a temperature is a relative deal, not always an absolute one.
    Well, maybe you should just try this in a couple of years...

  5. I love the idea of this activity. how old was elise at this time? what age range do think this activity is appropriate for?

    1. Hi Leda! Elise was 16 months old when we did this activity, but she could have done some variation of it earlier. I would just suggest be extra contentious of the water temperature. I should do it again with Elise because her interest in hot and cold just keeps growing! Thanks for stopping by!


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