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Icy Activities for Learning and Play During Hot Summer Weather

Jul 06, 2023    |   Outdoor & Sensory PlaySummer

When summer days heat up, a great way to help children stay cool is to engage them in icy activities that encourage science and sensory exploration. While playing with ice, children get an introduction to the water cycle while enjoying the cooling sensations of the ice in their hands! In this article, we share a few fun activities to help young children beat the heat as they learn and explore with ice. 

Colorful Icy Building Blocks

This colorful activity is easy-to-set-up and requires only a few items. All you need are: recycled yogurt cups (if you don’t have any available, you can also use an ice cube tray or silicone molds), water, and food coloring.

Start by filling the yogurt cups with water and adding drops of different colors of food coloring to each one. Depending on the age of the children in your care, they might enjoy helping you pour water into the cups! Next, put them in the freezer for a couple of hours (or overnight) to freeze. Once they are frozen solid, take the colorful ice blocks out of the container, place them onto a tray, and offer them to children as building blocks for a hot summer day. Encourage the children to experiment with stacking, building and sliding the blocks around!  

Strawberry Lemonade Slushies

Sometimes the best way to cool down is with an icy treat! These simple, low-sugar slushies have minimal ingredients:  just lemons, strawberries, honey (or maple syrup), ice, and water. Preparing the slushies can become a learning-through-cooking activity you can enjoy with  the children in your care.  Little ones can help with jobs like measuring and pouring the ingredients, and older children can help with cutting and juicing the fruit. 

Start by juicing lemons and cutting the greens off the strawberries. Then, place the juice, the strawberries, and rest of the ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 1 minute, or until you have the right slushy consistency. (Note: you may need to adjust the ice and water ratio to get your desired thickness.) Once it’s blended, just serve and enjoy! 

Frozen Pom-Pom Sensory Bin

This unique sensory bin is a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers who will enjoy exploring the pom-poms’ varied colors and textures.  To set up this activity, you’ll need pom-poms, an ice cube tray, and a sensory bin (or a large plastic container). Start by placing two pom-poms in each slot of the ice cube tray, and pouring water over the pom-poms. Leave it in the freezer for a few hours (or overnight) so that the ice cubes have time to freeze. Once they’re frozen, remove them from the freezer and place them into a large sensory bin to let the children explore! You might also add cups of warm water, tweezers, pipettes, and other accessories you have handy that children can use during their exploration.

After the activity is complete, you can place them in the freezer or let them dry and use them again! 

Watercolors and Ice Painting

Painting ice cubes is a fun process art project that encourages children to be creative while learning about colors and how to blend them.  For this simple activity, all you will need is a sensory bin (or a plastic container), paintbrushes, watercolors, a bag of ice (or cubes from several ice trays), and a jar of water for rinsing the paint brushes in between colors. Simply dump the ice into the bin and place the cup of water in the center of the ice to hold the ice in place. Then, offer the children watercolor paints and brushes and encourage them to get creative as they paint the ice cubes! 

This activity can also be set up individually (in small plastic containers, trays, or plates) so that each child can work on their own ice cube painting. As the children paint, talk with them about the different colors they see and how the colors change when they mix with other colors. 

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