Ice Inquiry


An inquiry unit on ice that integrates different subject areas such as math, science, language and art.

Activity Description:

The unit may be initiated through student observations during winter (ice on the pedestrian sidewalks and the use of ice melters). It may also be initiated by the teacher through teacher-led discussions about ice or setting out materials for students to freely explore.


Implementation (Lesson/Activity Ideas for the unit):

  • Free exploration: The teacher sets out ice of various sizes, string, salt/sand/ sugar as well as various containers for students to freely explore the materials.  

  • Knowledge building circle: Class discussion on student observations, ideas and questions regarding the melting ice. The teacher can provide prompts such as:​

    • “What happens when we leave the ice outside?”

    • “Do you notice anything similar outside the classroom?”

  • “What are some things you notice about the ice when we add salt/sugar/sand to it?”

Based on student conversations, the class may choose a focus inquiry question to study and experiment. For instance, exploring how the addition of other materials affect the melting of ice. The teacher invites students to provide their explanations to the phenomena. Resources on ice (i.e. books, websites) are available in the classroom for student and teacher reference.


  • Scientific methods: The teacher may introduce the scientific method and suggest to students that they can design an experiment to test the effects of adding salt/sugar/sand to ice. The teacher would explain how hypotheses (a proposed explanation) can be confirmed or rejected through systematic testing and observations.

  • Standard and non-standard measurements: As part of the scientific experiment, the teacher may introduce the concept of standard (systematic measurement systems such as the metric system) and non-standard (without the use of any scales) measurements to determine size of ice. The teacher should model how 3D objects can be measured using string in combination with other measurement tools (non-standard tools such as snap cubes or standard tools such as a ruler) to determine the size of ice.

Suggested Resources: Ice, string, salt/sugar/sand, containers, standard or non-standard measurement tools

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