This post was contributed by Elissa Peterson. Elissa is a fun-loving, mess-hating homeschooling mama who enjoys dreaming up ways to keep her kids away from the television. Follow her creative pursuits athttp://dontletlifepassyouby.blogspot.com/
Most adults know the value of sending little ones out to play in the snow. However many moms are hesitant to bundle up their little kids, because the bundling effort is not always worth the 5 minutes of peace that comes from sending little ones out to play
As a busy homeschooling mom, I’m always looking for cost effective (read FREE) activities that will entertain my kids, not make a huge mess, and maybe help them learn something along the way. My kids are school aged now, but when they were preschoolers, one of their favorite activities was playing with ice. Yep. Ice cubes. From the freezer. They loved them.
Here are some of the ways I kept them occupied
Ice cubes in imaginative play:
When my kids were about 3-4 years old I would take regular ice from the freezer and put it out for them to play with in a shallow bucket or sensory table. Simple cubes can become cars or building blocks. Here are a few variations that can add interest to imaginative play:
- Fill oddly shaped containers or Tupperware with water to make larger blocks of ice to add an element of interest.
- Include the children in the process of making the ice cubes and all of a sudden it’s a science experiment.
- Add a little food coloring or powdered drink mix (just enough to color the water) to make colored (and tasty!) blocks
- Put a little water (or melt a little snow) in the bottom of the sensory table/bucket and make ice boats
Ice in artwork:
Pour powdered drink mix (or powdered tempera paint) onto a sheet of thick paper and give the kids ice cubes with toothpicks frozen in them (the toothpicks make good handles for little fingers) to use as paintbrushes.
- Melt small pieces of colored ice on thick paper to create colorful works of art
Ice as a science experiment
Freezing and thawing is a great concept for youngsters to experiment with.
Here are a few science investigations that your youngsters are sure to love:
- Does water freeze faster in the freezer or outside?
- Does it melt faster in the sun, or sitting by the heater?
- Which melts faster a big ice chunk or a small chunk?
- Does adding salt change how fast our ice thaws?
- Does ice float or sink?
When my kids were in the 5 to 6 age range I used to freeze things in chunks for them to find. Sometimes it was something small they could melt in their mouth like a blueberry in an ice cube, sometimes it was larger like a handful of marbles in a huge chunk of ice, they would either have to wait for the ice to melt (boring!) or attack it with forks.
Ice is not only a great tool for little ones to experiment with; it is also a resource that is readily available in almost all settings. Ice can be used to enhance learning and snow play in the outdoors on a cold winter day or used for imaginative or scientific purposes indoors.
Have fun and get frozen!
Photo credits: stevendepolo