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Ice Ice... Science

Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools through Protocol Education in Manchester. Miranda encourages us not to play it safe as supply teachers and instead create an exciting, interactive and alternative science lesson.

Science is a tricky lesson to deliver beautifully and calmly as a supply teacher. There’s so much gear involved (not to mention mess) in conducting an experiment, and you probably don’t know where any of it is kept anyway. Mr Johnson from next-door has broken all the thermometers. Miss Cosgrove (now on mat leave) was last seen with the force meters – could the two facts be connected?  If you don’t want the trauma of getting on your hands and knees to search through dusty cupboards, then all you’re really left with is that lesson where everyone runs around in the hall, measuring their pulse with their finger tip. And isn’t there always someone who can’t find their’s/ lies down on the floor of the gym and pretends to be dead? looks as though you spent the entire evening preparing to give the children an exciting kinaesthetic experience

Ice balloons

I think I might have found a solution to this, however. Although one woman’s solution is the same woman’s inability to squeeze more fish fingers in the third drawer down in the freezer. Allow me to explain.  Ice balloons filled with water. Keep some in the freezer, keep a freezer box. The lesson can be adapted across different year groups and even key stages – depends what you do with the ice. Year 1s, for instance, can have the ice as a starter for a lesson on floating and sinking. Get objects that do and don’t float and then compare. Talk about why ice floats. Year 2 can use the ice balloons as an experiment to find out about water as a material that can transform from a solid to a liquid and back again. 


Foundation can observe the ice (someone’s bound to lick it, but life’s a risk isn’t it?), touch it and then look at it through magnifying glasses and torches. If you put the ice into a bowl of water, it evolves strangely and beautifully (can you tell I’m not one of nature’s most natural scientists?) into a mass of tubular ice pathways and webs of cracks, which my step-daughter (Year 2) described as ‘like a broken windscreen in winter.’ So, there’s also some real potential for a winter-inspired poetry session, inspired by the pictures children see in the ice. If you decide to go in that direction,  I would recommend  leaving the ice out in a bowl of water to melt for a spell (please forgive the technical language – I  hope you’re keeping up) to draw out the patterns. Turning the main lights off also illuminates the patterns, which children can wonder at by torch light.

Getting prepared

What works for me with this lesson, is having the kit somewhere handy at home. Balloons in freezer, ice box in cupboard etc. It’s a bit of a show piece too, as it looks as though you spent the entire evening preparing to give the children an exciting kinaesthetic experience.  It’s usual for us supply teachers to play it safe - no one wants to create a mess/riot in someone else’s classroom. But while the ice balloons may appear adventurous, your biggest risk is slippery water on the floor. Just be nice to the caretaker!

Are you going to try this in your next science lesson? Make sure you share with us by email or send us pics on TwitterFacebook, or Google+

Tags: Miranda, Manchester, Supply, Science, lessons, ideas, ice

Category: Australian Teachers

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