Sensory Play: Ice & Water

It’s 30° outside, but at least twice a week, my four-year-old is requesting that we go to the pool.  These boys miss their summer water play!

To substitute, we are using lots of indoor water activities, especially those involving temperature to help them understand why going to the pool in the snow might not be quite as much fun as they’d imagined!  🙂

Marble Rescue: Ice Cube Version

We tried out one activity I found online where the kids had to use warm water to “rescue” marbles frozen into ice cubes.  We added a color-mixing element by dying half of the ice cubes blue and half yellow.  This activity gave the boys opportunities to use lots of different tools, including watering cans, tongs, and spoons, and they had a great time with it.  However, there was one major drawback: the ice cubes were totally melted in about three minutes, which didn’t provide them much of a challenge or even an opportunity to think about what was causing the ice to disappear or how to get the marbles out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We went back to the drawing board and came up with this:

Marble Rescue Reboot: Iceberg Version

1) Fill a plastic bowl about half full with water.  If desired, add a few drops of food coloring.  Place in the freezer overnight or several hours until frozen.

2) Place marbles or other small objects on top of the ice.  We used a dozen marbles (6 black and 6 white).  I ran the marbles under hot water to warm them up before adding them so that they melted the ice a little and stayed in place.  Spread them out as evenly as possible. Cover with a shallow layer of water and place back in the freezer for an hour or until frozen.

3) Top the bowl off with a final layer of water, adding food coloring if desired.  (We colored our first layer red and our top layer blue so that the colors would mix as they melted.)  Return to the freezer until solid.

4) Turn ’em loose!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our larger iceberg provided a much more exciting challenge for the little marble-rescuers.  They realized quickly that the ice was melting where they poured the water, so they located marbles closest to the edge of the ice and concentrated their efforts there, freeing them one at a time.  Because the larger piece of ice made the water pretty cold, they avoided using their hands to pick up the marbles and practiced with tools — tongs, spoons, and measuring cups — instead, and they did a great job working as a team!  Freeing the marbles took about thirty minutes, and they continued to play after that, sorting and counting the marbles, dividing the marbles evenly between them, transferring marbles and water between tools, and experimenting in a variety of other ways.

I recommend using food-coloring in the ice, especially if the concept of states of matter is new for your kids.  Seeing the blue and red ice and watching the water turn purple really helped my four-year-old grasp what was happening to the ice as it melted and mingled with the clear water they were pouring on it.

Overall, this activity was a huge hit and they’ve already requested to do it again.  Next time, I’m going to freeze some different objects in the ice.  Any suggestions?  Try this activity and let us know what you froze for your kiddos to rescue!

Leave a Reply

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑