Ice Castle Project
Our Early Learning School (JK - Gr. 1) decided to
collaboratively build an ice castle in our school playground
To begin this collaboration, we needed to plan together as a
staff, to set a date for our actual construction. We knew it
would take a few weeks of preparation to get the ice blocks
1. We sent a letter home to parents, asking them to keep
their empty 2 liter milk cartons, and begin to start
freezing the blocks by filling them with water and a few
drops of food colouring. We discovered that it took varying
amounts of time for the water to completely freeze through
to the center - depending on the outside temperature. Some
parents began to freeze them in their freezers rather than
rely on frigid temperatures. With each child bringing in ice
bricks/blocks, we would have enough to build several walls.
2. The Grade one classes had to estimate the size of the
castle dependent on the number of bricks brought in. Each
class was polled to find out approximately how many blocks
would be brought in on that date. Using lego bricks (2x4),
they began to build sample castles to see how big they could
make the castle and how many rows high it could be.
3. The day of the actual build, each class had an assigned
half hour time to do their portion of the building. We had
several parents who offered to stay and support the project
4. The grade ones started, with the base row, using a string
guide to follow for the foundation row.
5. Once the initial row was laid, the second row was added
on. Children found that when they just set them on top of
the first block they slid off. Next they tried adding water
between the blocks, but the same thing happened.
6. What would keep the blocks from sliding off? Parents and
children alike were trying different solutions, when finally
one boy discovered that using the wet snow from the base of
the blocks, worked perfectly as a glue or mortar. It was
like a slurry mixture of very heavy wet snow. They shared
that information with the next class, and construction
7. Each class worked together with some children opening the
milk cartons, some were bringing out water in buckets, some
gathering loose snow from further out in the field and
making a pile to access for making slurry. The half hour
seemed to by so quickly.
8. Children's mitts were soaked and cold, yet the pride they
felt when they finished was wonderful. They knew that they
had planned, used trial and error to problem solve, shared
information, collaborated, encouraged each other, and worked
as a team.
Elaborations were added bit by bit, but as the days warmed,
the castle began to disintegrate, and blocks were carried
off for smaller play activities.
The last block (in a northern, shaded corner) took a long
time to melt - almost lasting till dandelions had begun to
bloom against the school wall.