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In last week’s post I share how my kids found my stash of balloons and wanted to use them for STEAM Activities this summer. This week my kids wanted to use balloons to recreate an activity they saw on Ryan’s World on YouTube – we are rescuing animals from an ice balloon!

This activity is perfect for summertime. My kids loved excavating the animal from the ice balloon outside using their fossil hunting tools. Last summer my son was obsessed with all things dinosaurs and paleontology, so we bought several fossil excavation kits that came with tools like a small chisel and wooden hammer. In this activity, the ice kept them cool as they hammered, chiseled, and played.

It is so simple to prepare this activity – all you need is a balloon, water, and a freezer. Then you take it outside to excavate!



  1. Fill the balloon with water by holding the balloon open under a stream of water in the sink. We added about a cup of water into each balloon.
Hold the balloon open under a stream of water in the sink
This is our filled balloon – we used about 1 cup of water
  1. Carefully push a small toy animal through the balloon opening and down into the water inside the balloon
See you later elephant!
See you later giraffe!
  1. Tie the top of the balloon closed.
The water and toy animal are inside this balloon.
Can you see the giraffe?
  1. Place the balloon into the freezer. Let sit overnight or until frozen solid.
It’s time to get cold
  1. Remove ice balloon from freezer and bring outside for the rescue mission.
Don’t forget your safety glasses!
  1. Optional: Use a notebook to make observations about the experiment. For example, when we brought the ice balloon outside my son drew a picture of the ice balloon, and then we measured the ice balloon with a ruler and recorded the length.
Measuring the ice balloon’s length using a ruler
Taking notes about the ice balloon in his lab notebook
  1. Use your tools to remove the balloon to reveal the ice.
Use a sharp tool such as a screwdriver or chisel to puncture the balloon
Remove the balloon from the ice
  1. Use your tools to break apart the ice balloon to rescue the toy animal. Our wooden hammer worked best to break the ice balloon. {safety glasses are highly recommended in case there are flying chips of ice}
We started with a wooden hammer
The ice cracked in half!
Finally the elephant is free!
  1. Optional: Make final observations in your lab notebook. My son wrote down the best tool to break apart the ice balloon.
My son’s final lab notebook observations
The elephant is free!
The giraffe is free!

STEAM Concepts Learned:

  • Science: Observe water change state from liquid to ice. When they placed the balloon in the freezer it was filled with liquid water, but when they removed it from the freezer the next day it was filled with solid ice. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fairenheit; as it freezes it changes state from liquid to solid. Our freezer is set to 0 degF, so the water changed state from liquid to solid overnight.
  • Engineering: Use critical thinking skills to determine how to rescue the animal from the ice. This could involve trial and error by testing several tools and methods, which is something that engineers do at work. Practice STEM note taking skills using the lab notebook to record the observations about the experiment.
  • Math: Practice measurement by measuring the ice balloon with a ruler. Practice counting by counting the number of pieces of ice the original ice balloon gets broken into to rescue the animal.

My kids had a blast with this STEAM activity! My kids were excited to use their fossil hunting tools, and it was a fun way to play outside with ice on a hot summer day.

Let me know if you try this fun summer activity!


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