Mini Monets and Mommies: Kids' Art and Science: Frozen Vegetable Oil Prints

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kids' Art and Science: Frozen Vegetable Oil Prints

What happens to vegetable oil when you put it in the freezer? That’s the starting point for this kids' art and science activity!

Science art

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Okay, so I’ve never frozen oil of any sort before. I’m not sure why I ever would have. I’m not a whiz in the kitchen – and, when would there be a recipe that called for freezing olive oil anyway? What I do happen to do a lot is freeze water. No, I’m not an ice-in-every-drink type of girl. Actually, I rarely put ice in drinks. When my son was 4 we went to a friend’s house on one of those scorching hot summer days (we didn’t have AC at the time). She handed him a glass of lemonade with ice cubes in it. And, he cried. Why? He ran over to me screaming, “Mommy, she gave me lemonade with glass in it.” My son was so not used to ice in drinks, he actually thought it was glass.

Fast-forward a decade and I’m making ice all the time. Only now, it’s more for art purposes than drinking (unless my family wants to drink the rainbow-colored cubes that typically inhabit our freezer. So, this time I decided to pour some veggie oil into the mix. And, here’s where the experimenting begins…

Oh yeah, wait just a moment. Not only is this science-y fun, but it’s also an art exploration. Yep. As your child is making discoveries and experimenting with freezing different liquids, he can also create a print. Let me say now, this printing project part happened totally by accident. But, that’s one of the joys of art (and even some science activities). You don’t have to set out to make ‘something’ -- sometimes even if you do, it turns out completely (and amazingly) different than you and your child thought. What does that mean for you? Let go of the idea that everything has to be ‘right’ or look like it does on Pinterest. Sometimes going off course is better than you could have ever expected -- especially when it comes to kids' art and science activities.

And, here’s what you’ll need:

·        Ice cube tray

·        Vegetable (or olive or canola) oil

·        Food coloring

·        Light-colored or white card stock paper

·        Water

Here’s what to do:

1. Drop one or two drips of food coloring into each compartment of the ice cube tray. Try using the primary colors (red, blue and yellow). Mix them (adding one drop of red and one of blue, and so on) to make more hues.

2. Add water to half of the compartments and oil to the other half. Encourage your child to observe and describe what happens to the food coloring when he adds the oil. He can add another drop to the oil too (it’s pretty cool).

Science art
3. Freeze overnight. Ask your child to predict what will happen to the water side and the oil side.

4. Take the cubes out. I don’t want to give away any big secrets here, but I’m going to anyway. For those of you who aren’t up on what freezes and what doesn’t – the oil side will turn into a creamy semi-solid. Shhh – don’t tell your child. Let him explore and observe for himself. So, you can pop the ice cubes out, but not the oil cubes

5. Compare the two kinds of cubes. Your child can use his sense of sight and sense of touch to find out what the differences are. Put the water ice cubes on a piece of paper. Let them start melting. Ask your child to predict what will happen if you put them in the sun. Go ahead and put them outside or on a sunny window sill. Make sure to out cardboard, a garbage bag or something else under it.
Kids' art

6. Scoop out the oil cubes (they won’t pop out). Put them on another piece of paper. Ask your child to describe the differences between the oil and water cubes (when he puts them on the paper).
Vegetable Oil

7. Play! Your child can smoosh, smooth and push the food coloring-oil cubes around. Ask him what words describe how they feel (such as slimy).

 8. Go back to that other paper (you know, the one with the water ice on it). As the cubes begin to melt, your child can paint the paper with them. Compare the two paintings (the one with the water ice and the other with the oil ice).

Children's science

9. Drip the excess water (and remove any un-melted ice cubes) from the paper. Turn it over and press it onto the front of the oil-food color paper. Press or pat it together. As your child pats the surface, some of the oil and the food coloring will seep through. What’s the result? An abstract-looking print!
Art Activity

Science print

Keep experimenting with the oil, food coloring and ice (to keep the kids' art and science activities going). Your child can mix together colors, blend the different liquids and see what happens when you try to re-freeze the paper!


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  5. Oh My God! There is so much creative and art work. The ideas are so interesting that I can use them in my class. Googley eyes on the top of the stick, children would love to create and also own it. Thank you for sharing such an artistic post with all of us.

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