Arctic Ice Sensory Play

While we like the idea that winter is coming to an end, let’s enjoy some activities that we can do before it’s over!

1) The first of two projects will likely be enjoyed for hours on end by toddlers, preschoolers and young elementary aged children.  It starts out as a craft and ends with open imaginary play.

  • First, check out the photo, and grab any low plastic bin, such as rubbermaid or smaller.
  • Also gather a much smaller plastic container of any shape, such as a yogurt container.  You can use a few and be creative with the shapes and sizes!
  • Fill the larger bin with water to about a 3 inch depth.  Fill the smaller containers to about the same depth.
  • Arrange the small containers upright in any design inside the large bin.
  • Have an adult carry all of it to the place it will get frozen. If you live in a climate that still has freezing days, you can put it on the back deck overnight.  If you are having mild days, be sure to use a bin that will fit into your freezer.
  • When frozen, remove smaller containers to find arctic pools!  You can even use the frozen blocks inside the small containers to build mountains and icebergs if you wish.
  • Place bin on a towel on the floor (not carpet), or on a low table if safe.
  • Gather toy animals (especially sea and arctic animals) to play on the frozen ocean and in the cold water pools!
  • See the link for educational play ideas such as talking about the nature of ice and water, and playing out animal predator-prey relationships!

2) Next is an activity that older elementary kids, and others, may enjoy.  This is especially great for a group of kids or a party, but can be done with any number of people.  It is a variation on the scavenger hunt: a hunt for Pirate Treasure, Gems or Ice crystals!


You can involve the kids in the making of the crystals, or if you want it to be a big surprise, it can be done quickly a day in advance.

  • First, fill ice cube trays with water and add one drop of food colouring (different colours) to each cube.  If the kids are involved, this would be a great time to experiment with mixing primary colours together to find out what new colours can be created, such as purple and orange.
  • If anyone is concerned with getting food colouring on their hands, gloves or coats, you can opt out of the colour and instead add tiny toys (that may get lost) or small sweets.  Perhaps even a special message!
  • Freeze overnight.
  • Before the hunt is to begin, hide the coloured ice crystals around the yard.  It’s wonderful if you can do this in snow, but it’s not necessary.
  • Send the pirates out for the treasure hunt!
  • Alternatively, let one or more of the kids hide the treasure for others to find next.
  • See the link for other ways to use the ice when the hunt is over.
  • http://www.everythingmom.com/activities/ice-crystal-scavenger-hunt.html

Tara Beninger lives in Victoria and wishes we had a few days of snow this year!