Salt can be used for many activities that help kids in kindergarten gain an understanding of scientific properties, by witnessing the effects of salt. Why do we sprinkle salt on the icy driveway? Where does salt come from?

Growing salt crystals can be a magical experience, opening kids eyes to the wonder of the natural world. Learn how to extract salt from ocean water, how to make heavy objects float in saltwater and how to melt ice with salt.

Extracting Salt From Ocean Water

This activity will make a little science experiment that sits in your kitchen window for a few days, or out on your back porch. You’ll need a skewer, some duct tape, and a plastic lid from a large bucket of ice cream. the deli or, ideally, the kind that comes from a bu Start by cutting a small wedge from the plastic lid- create an “umbrella” by bringing the sides of the lid together and skewering them. Secure with duct tape. Fill a drinking glass with ocean water and place the “umbrella” in the glass. You may want to trim the skewer, so that it sits closer to the water level. Place the glass in the sun and check on it every few days. The water will evaporate and drip off the sides of the lid, leaving the salt in the glass.

Ice Sculptures with Salt

You can build igloos with ice cubes by dipping the flat ends into a plate of table salt and pressing them together. Refreeze periodically, because the salty, melted ice needs a much colder temperature in order to refreeze. Place a few ice cubes in the blender to make a slushy mixture to “pack” into the cracks.

Salt Painting

Paint a watercolor picture and sprinkle some salt onto the wet paint surface. Discuss how the salt effects the paint colors. What do the salt crystals look like? In school, kids use this technique to make snowflakes or to make things sparkle. Try painting a winter scene and sprinkling with salt.

Floating Things in Salt

Fill several bowls with warm water and pick a few identical wooden blocks, legos, math manipulative pieces, or other items. Have your child add a tablespoon of salt into one bowl, 2 tablespoons into another and continue, increasing the amount of salt in each bowl until you run out of bowls/items to float. Drop each item into the bowls and see how well they float. How much of each item is underwater, and how much is above the water? Try the experiment again, using different items. Are there things that will float in very salty water but not in plain water?

Growing Salt Crystals

If you’ve ever made rock candy, you’ve seen how the sugar crystals grow on the string or stick. This activity is the same, just with salt. Add hot water to a glass with several tablespoons of salt. Hang a cotton string from a skewer that’s laying across the top of the glasses. The string should reach the bottom of the glass, to wick up the moisture, allowing the crystals to grow on the side of the string. Try it with epsom salt, table salt, sea salt, and rock salt. Which one makes larger crystals? Are the crystals the same shape, the same size?

Salt is more than just a flavor enhancer, it’s arguably the most important mineral on the planet. Having enjoyable activities experimenting with the properties of salt will give children memorable experiences to draw upon as they get older and begin to learn more about the way the natural world works. In Kindergarten, it’s important to have an activity-based kindergarten in order to nurture children’s natural love of exploration and innate ability to learn and to question.

These activities for teaching kindergarteners about glaciers are excerpts of the “Activity-Based Kindergarten Curriculum” scheduled for release in July of 2009.  Subscribe to Type-A Mom or Lisa Russell’s website by email for notification of its release, special early-bird pricing and promotions and more excerpts.