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Ice and Water Play

Exploring the different states of water and observing the transformation from one to another makes for a fantastic sensory experience and can inspire limitless ways to play! Here are some of our favorite ways to help kids make lasting discoveries as they play with ice and water. 

The Guide

Prepare ice: Ice is a marvelous lay material in any form! Keep it simple and grab some ice cubes from the freezer. Or, take ice play up a notch with some of our favorite ways to prepare ice for play time:
  • Frozen treasures: Freeze some objects from nature inside an ice cube tray, muffin tin or recycled containers (i.e. yogurt containers).
  • Giant blocks of ice: For a different take on ice exploration, freeze water in a large container, such as a pie tin or cake pan (great for learning about glaciers through play).
  • Color explorations: Add a few drops of food coloring or watercolor paint to water before freezing to add an extra dose of magic to frozen treasures. 
  • Scent-sations: Add a few drops of lemon juice or other type of citrus to stimulate even more senses during play.
  • Add a handle: Freeze a stick, flower stem or one end of a piece of twine or rope inside ice to spark even more imaginative play. Plus, a handle gives kids a way to easily handle ice without getting hands too cold.

Play! Fill a bucket, bowl, bin or the bathtub with water, offer some ice and let the play roll! Need some ideas? Here are some of our favorite ways to explore water and ice:
  • Snap, crackle, pop! Add ice to warm water and enjoy the sound of the melting ice as it cracks, pops and fizzes in the water.
  • Sink and float: Make predictions about whether the ice will float or sink. Then, test it out to see what happens!
  • Scoop it out! Offer spoons, cups, strainers and another container or two for kids to enjoy some scooping and transferring play. 
  • Sail away: Use objects from nature as “passengers” and see how many can fit on your icy “boat”. Then, try pushing the ice through the water to set sail! 
  • Free from the freeze: Melt frozen treasures in the water to free them from the ice. Read more about this activity here
  • Color mixing: If you have added color to your ice, make a prediction about what will happen to the color of the water in your bowl. Then, add your colorful ice and explore color combinations.
  • Icy feast: Offer a few kitchen tools (e.g.mixing bowls, spoons) and invite kids to transform cubes of colored or scented ice into a pretend soup. Or, melt ice in cups with water to make their own potions.
  • Glaciers on the move: Experiment with using fingers, tools and even breathe to move the ice across the water. 
  • Ice fishing: Offer a strainer or scoop and invite kids to “fish” for their ice in the water.
    Want more play ideas to keep kids cool when the weather heats up? Try our Pigs in the Mud DIY or our Nature Fans DIY.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Offering kids ways to cool off through play when the weather heats up is a super way to show kids that they can persist and find the magic of being outdoors all year long! Ice and water play is a super way to activate the senses and, because there are endless ways to play with these open-ended materials, they offer many chances for kids to use their creativity and problem-solving skills.

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