Winter Weather Teaching Box: Water & Ice

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Goal: Students learn that water can be a solid or a liquid depending on temperature.


Engage students with a story about a child discovering snow.

Explore by experimenting with changes in state between solid ice and liquid water.

  • Water Magicians: In this activity from Utah Education Network, students observe water changing states from a solid to a liquid to a gas. To keep the focus on a comparison of ice and liquid water, omit the evaporation part of the activity and emphasize the different in temperature as above freezing or below freezing.
  • Snow vs. Water: On a snowy day, have students compare the volume of snow to an equivalent volume of water in this simple activity from Teach Engineering that is similar to what the boy in The Snowy Day experiences as his snowball melts. Emphasize that what causes the change in state is temperature that is above freezing or below freezing.

Evaluate student learning by having students decide whether it would rain or snow at different temperatures.

  • Show photos of landscapes that have snow and ice and those that have liquid water (rain, rivers, etc). Have students mark whether each scene is above freezing or below freezing. Collect photos from magazines or the web, use your own photos, or use the Freezing Or Not presentation below.
  • Freezing or Not: Some of the eight photos in this Powerpoint presentation have snow and ice and some have liquid water. Have students mark whether each scene is above freezing or below freezing based on whether they see water or ice in the images. Print the last slide in the series for students to use as a worksheet to record their answers.

Performance Expectation and Standards:

  • PE: 2-ESS2-3. Students obtain information to identify where water is found on earth and that it can be solid or liquid.
  • NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information
  • NGSS DCI: ESS2.C The roll of water in Earth's surface processes
  • NGSS Crosscutting themes: Patterns of the natural world