For lots of folks, winter means cold temps with lots of ice and snow. You could stay inside by the fire with a good book. Or, bundle up and head outside for some winter science experiments and activities! These ideas can be differentiated for all ages and interests. No snow where you live? No worries! You can still do most of these with a freezer instead.
1. Study the science of snowflakes
Did you know that every snowflake has six sides? Or that they form from water vapor, not raindrops? There’s lots to learn about the science of snowflakes. Hit the link below for more.
Learn more: Snow Science/The Homeschool Scientist
2. Weigh and compare snow
This is a simple but effective way to get kids thinking. Scoop up two cups of snow and weigh them. Are they the same? If not, why? Allow the snow to melt. Does it weigh the same? So many questions from such a simple experiment!
Learn more: Weighing Snow/Inspiration Laboratories
3. Determine how weather affects snow textures
Anyone that sees a lot of snow each winter knows there are many different kinds—heavy wet snow, dry powdery snow, and so on. Older students will enjoy this winter science project, which tracks atmospheric conditions to find out how we get different types of snow.
Learn more: Snow Science/Science Buddies
4. Discover the beauty of frozen bubbles
Bubble experiments are always fun, but frozen bubbles add a whole new dimension of beauty. Take your class outside to blow bubbles when the temps are below freezing and watch the magic happen! (No freezing temperatures where you live? The link below offers tips for trying this with dry ice.)
Learn more: ThoughtCo
5. Find out how penguins stay dry
It seems like penguins should freeze solid when they get out of the water, right? So what protects their feathers and keeps them dry? Find out with this fun experiment using wax crayons.
Learn more: ABCs of Literacy
6. Waterproof a boot
Now that you know how penguins stay dry, can you apply that knowledge to a boot? Ask kids to select various materials and tape them over the free boot printable. Then, test their hypotheses and see which ones work best.
Learn more: Waterproof a Boot/Science Sparks
7. Learn about condensation and frost
Use snow or ice cubes for this winter science experiment that explores condensation and the formation of frost. All you need is some metal cans and salt.
Learn more: Steamsational
8. Crush a can with air
Scoop up some snow and bring it inside to use for this air pressure experiment. (Use caution, because you’ll need boiling water too.)
Learn more: Crushing Cans/Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
9. Erupt a snow volcano
Take the classic baking soda volcano experiment and add snow! Kids learn about acids and bases with this popular winter science project.
Learn more: Snow Volcano/Science Sparks
10. Explore how mittens keep you warm
Ask little ones if mittens are warm, and they’ll likely answer “yes!” But when they measure the temperature inside an empty mitten, they’ll be surprised by what they find. Learn about body heat and insulation with this easy experiment.
Learn more: Classroom Magic
11. Don’t melt the ice
We spend a lot of time in winter trying to get rid of ice, but what about when you don’t want the ice to melt? Experiment with different forms of insulation to see which keeps ice frozen the longest.
Learn more: Ice Insulation/Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
12. String up some sticky ice
Can you lift an ice cube using just a piece of string? This experiment teaches you how, using a little salt to melt and then refreeze the ice with the string attached. Bonus project: Use this process to make a garland of colored ice stars (or other shapes) and hang them outside for decoration.
Learn more: Playdough to Plato
13. Construct an igloo
Calling all future engineers! Freeze blocks of ice (milk cartons work well) and create a life-size igloo with your class. If this seems too ambitious, try a smaller version with ice cubes instead.
Learn more: Build an Igloo/Science Buddies
14. Measure the water content of snow
Two inches of snow is not the same as two inches of rain. This easy winter science experiment measures the amount of water actually found in an inch of snow.
Learn more: Edventures with Kids
15. Have fun with hockey science
A hockey puck slides effortlessly across the ice, but what about other objects? Gather up some classroom items and take them out to a frozen puddle to see which slide best.
Learn more: Hockey Science/Creative Family Fun
16. Determine the best way to melt ice
Conventional wisdom says we sprinkle salt on ice to melt it faster. But why? Is that really the best method? Try this winter science experiment and find out.
Learn more: The Chaos and the Clutter
17. Freeze your Oobleck
Kids love to play with the mysterious oobleck, a non-Newtonian liquid that becomes firm under pressure. Try freezing it to increase the fun factor and see how it reacts as it melts.
Learn more: Frozen Oobleck/Inspiration Laboratories
18. Watch the wintertime birds
Winter is a great time to set up a bird feeder and observe our feathered friends. Learn to identify common backyard birds in your area and discover which foods they prefer. Take this winter science activity even further by signing up your class for Project FeederWatch, a citizen science project all about winter birdwatching.
Learn more: Creekside Learning
19. Play around with pine cones
Head out to the snowy woods and gather up some pine cones, then bring them inside and experiment to see what makes them open and release their seeds.
Learn more: Lemon Lime Adventures
20. Conduct a winter nature study
There are so many natural wonders to study during the winter months! Measure temperatures, track the snowfall, look for animal prints—and that’s just a few ideas. Make winter nature study even easier with free printables at the link below.
Learn more: Jimmie’s Collage
21. Find out how arctic animals stay warm
Grab some rubber gloves, zipper bags, and a can of shortening to learn how layers of fat help to insulate animals and keep them warm. Do this winter science experiment outside in the snow or inside with a bowl of cold water and ice cubes.
Learn more: Forgetful Momma
22. Add color to melting ice
In this colorful winter science activity, you’ll use salt to start the ice melting (it lowers the freezing point of water). Then, add pretty watercolors to see the ravines and crevices that form as the ice melts.
Learn more: Artful Parent
23. Melt ice with pressure
There are plenty of experiments that melt ice with salt, but this one is a little different. Instead, it uses the heat produced by pressure to move a piece of wire through a block of ice.
Learn more: Kiwi Co.
24. Make instant ice
Here’s a winter science experiment that seems more like a magic trick. Place a bottle of water in a bowl of ice (or snow) and rock salt. When you take it out, the water is still liquid—until you slam it against the counter and it freezes instantly! Find out how it works at the link below.
Learn more: Steve Spangler Science
25. Create rainbow ice towers
Once you master the instant ice trick, add some food coloring and see if you can create instant rainbow ice towers! The video above walks you through the process.
26. Paint salt snowflakes to learn about absorption
Salt painting is a cool way to learn about the process of absorption as well as color mixing. Simply mix salt with glue and make your snowflakes. Then drop colored water onto the salt and see it spread, drop by drop.
Learn more: Little Bins For Little Hands
27. Experiment with fake snow recipes
No snow where you live? You’ll just have to make your own! Try a variety of fake snow recipes and determine which makes the best batch.
Learn more: Fake Snow/The Homeschool Scientist
28. Build a crystal snowman
It wouldn’t be a winter science list without at least one crystal project, right? This adorable snowman version is a unique twist on the popular supersaturated solutions experiment. Get the how-to at the link below.
Learn more: The Science Kiddo
29. Cook up some hot ice
Tired of frozen toes in the name of science? This experiment has ice in the name, but will keep you warm and toasty. It’s essentially another kind of crystal project, but this one forms the crystals instantly, due to the way you cook up the solution.
Learn more: Hot Ice/Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
30. Savor the sweetness of hot cocoa science
After all these ice-and-snow winter science projects, you deserve a reward. This hot cocoa experiment aims to find the optimal temperature for dissolving hot cocoa mix. Once you’ve found the answer, you get to sip on the delicious results!
Learn more: Hot Cocoa Science/Creative Family Fun