With winter in full chilly swing, it’s always a good idea to enough sun. So why not have some outdoor DIY fun with the kids and explore the curious science of water, temperature, and the sun. It’s time to turn liquids into solids and make a glistening frozen art piece for the garden.
But before we get started, here are some chilled frozen facts:
- Water can occur in three states: solid (ice), a liquid that you drink, or gas (like steam).
- The freezing point for water is 0°C, while the boiling point is 100°C.
- Water freezes when the liquid molecules get so cold that they slow down enough to “hold” onto each other, forming a solid crystal, which we call ice.
- Dry ice isn’t made of water, it is actually frozen carbon dioxide.
- Try this: For the next really cold day, you can make instant snow form by throwing boiling water into the air.
To make your frozen sun-catcher mobile, you will need:
- Treasures from the garden such as fruit slices, herbs, flowers, and interesting leaves (citrus and rosemary are in-season sensations now).
- Shallow, round containers in which your water will freeze, such as lids or flat plates. These discs will become the main features, so you may want to use different sizes to enhance the visual intricacy and appeal of your mobile.
- A medium-sized stick or wooden rod to hang your frozen discs from. You can get fancy here and cross two sticks/rods for a traditional mobile look.
- Any colour food colouring (optional).
- Pieces of string or twine.
- A pair of scissors, winter gloves, and water.
Top tip: Visit your GCA Garden Centre for gorgeous cool-season flowers and citrus trees. Take the little ones for an outing and let them choose their blooms to use in the ice discs of their sun-catcher. Garden Centres are also stocked with wooden rods and paint for your hanging and decor needs.
Let’s make sun-catchers!
- Choose a good spot where you will be leaving the discs overnight to freeze. Bring all your goodies to this area and work as close to it as possible to avoid needing to move, and potentially spill your creations.
- Beautifully arrange your collected garden treasures inside your chosen containers/plates.
- Carefully fill the containers with the necessary amount of water. If you’re using food colouring, now’s the time to add your different colours to the various containers.
- Pop in the pieces of your string or twine, making sure that one end rests inside the water and that it is long enough to be tied onto the stick later.
- This is perhaps the most challenging step – go to bed! Your mobile will be ready and waiting for you in the morning.
- Wake up and dash outside to check if your art has successfully frozen. If it has, hooray! And if not, try a different spot in the garden, or many spots, and see which one gives you that freezing power.
- With your winter gloves on, remove the frozen discs from their containers. You may need a prying tool here or even a little warm water along the edges to get the discs out.
- Make sure the strings are nicely secured, and then tie the loose ends onto your wooden rod(s). Have fun here and arrange your art with all the different shapes and colours.
- Using a new piece of string, hang your mobile somewhere in the garden where you’ll be able to catch some sun! A tree branch or even the washing line will make a good place.
- Time to catch that sun! This part is easy – simply recite these magic words:
Dear yellow star
We call for your heat, although you are 150 million kilometers far
Thank you for being the center of our solar system
Made of awesome hydrogen and helium
Please come and see our mobiles today
And let the ice slowly melt away
Enjoy marvelling over your DIY frozen sun-catcher mobile. Can you see the sparkles of the sun, dancing inside and reflecting off the ice? Don’t forget to take pictures!
Top tip: Use purified water or cooled-down, boiled water from a kettle for clearer ice. Try other interesting shapes instead of discs and explore to what depths the water will freeze in your area.
Did you know? The surface of the sun is 5600°C with a core temperature of 15,000,000°C – wow!
Have a blast creating your eco-friendly, icy sun-catchers! You can use the melted garden treasures as mulch, add them to the compost, or give the fruit to the birds. This DIY is a great opportunity for homeschool learning and independent investigation. Who knows, this might just be the spark your child needs to unlock their love for science and nature. Life is a Garden, be inspired by it!
*Activity by Life is a Garden.
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