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Winter Wondermobiles

Age: 0 to 5 Time: 1 hour+
Materials: Nature treasures (e.g. berries, evergreen limbs, small pine cones), cake pan or baking sheet (with a lip), water bottle, twine, scissors. Optional: spices (star anise seeds, cinnamon sticks), food coloring.
Skills: Creativity, Curiosity, Behavioral Schema, Sensory

Featured in our #OutdoorsAll4 challenge, ‘Winter Wondermobile’, give kids the chance to create dazzling mobiles made of ice and natural treasures. Mobiles invite us to collect, create, marvel and even enjoy a little destruction, too.

The Guide

Set Up:

  • Bring a cake pan or baking sheet (with a lip around it), twine and bottle(s) full of water outdoors.
  • While outdoors, gather nature treasures (e.g. berries, evergreen limbs, small pine cones—whatever would look nice in ice!).
  • Fill your pan or sheet with water and layer in the treasures. Put both ends of a 10-12 inch piece of twine into the water so that they will freeze in the ice, forming a handle.
  • Keep this outside until it freezes (if temperatures are below freezing). Or, bring the treasures back home, fill the pan and freeze in the freezer.

Invitation: Observe and Release!

  • Keep checking back to observe how the water and contents are changing as they freeze. Take pictures!
  • Once fully frozen, bring your pan or sheet indoors or take it out of the freezer. In minutes, it should melt enough to release from the container.
  • Take it outdoors and observe, marveling as the sun streams through it. lay it on the ground or hang it from a tree limb and observe. Watch as kids interact with it, using various senses. Use hands, sticks, rocks or other tools to break it up and explore it further.
  • If kids are into it, repeat and make more!

Why is this activity great for kids?

Winter wondermobiles gives your kids the chance to build their own understanding of the STEM concept of the states of matter. Exploring ice offers a super workout for your child’s senses. Ice play also naturally surfaces chances to add words to your word bank like freezing and melting to descriptors like slippery, cool and slick. Unlike so many experiences in the digital age, this one requires waiting, helping kids develop patience.

Do This Activity In A Class

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Do It Yourself

We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!