Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Hot as an Ice Cube

Hot as an Ice Cube

Hot as an Ice Cube, by Philip Balestrino, is a children’s story that introduces physical science concepts through the use of  simple language and age- appropriate illustrations by Tomie de Paola.

This short story explores real- life activities which involve heat and the physical changes of certain liquids and solids.  An in-depth explanation is given as to why temperature changes occur and how this effects the molecules that are contained inside each and every object in our world.  Each of the definitions in the story is followed by an explanation of a everyday object that goes through a physical change.  The illustrations provided in the story have limited color and capture the ideas presented in the written text which help students visualize the new science concepts. “Things are made of molecules just the way a sand castle is made of grains of sand, except molecules are much smaller.” (pg. 10)

Curriculum Connections:

Hot as an Ice Cube can be used as an introduction to a unit on Matter in order to familiarize students with some of the science vocabulary that will be used throughout the course of the lesson.  This story can be directly applied to Virginia SOL 2.3 for the second grade in which students will investigate and understand basic properties of solids, liquids, and gases.  This also involves grasping the concept of changes in matter from one state to another such as condensation, evaporation, melting, and freezing.

Additional Resources:

  • This simple lesson plan allows the students to conduct an experiment in order to observe hot and cold water molecules and their movements.
  • Here is another hands- on lesson for students to be able to make their own physical and chemical changes to a piece of paper. This lesson also provides the students with multiple examples of other physicals and chemical changes.
  • This group activity helps students to map examples of elements of physical changes and use this diagram for a future quiz on the material.

General Information:
Book: Hot as an Ice Cube
Author: Philip Balestrino
Illustrator: Tomie de Paola
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Publication Date: October 1971
Pages: 35
Grade Range: 1st – 3rd
ISBN: 978-0690404159