Tag Archives: ice

Ice Sculptures

Ice is a fun, inexpensive, and fascinating material to explore in your sensory table!  I like to add color to the water before filling my ice molds, to add interest, and so that the colors begin to mix as the ice melts.  Then I fill a variety of containers – ice-cube trays, of course, but also empty plastic food containers (Cool Whip, sour cream, yogurt, etc.), plastic cups, popsicle molds, muffin tins – anything to create an interesting shape.  You can place these in your freezer, if you have the room, or if you’re lucky enough to have absolutely frigid temperatures as we did here, just place them outside overnight.

Place the ice in your sensory bin with paintbrushes and water, and show the children that if they brush the ice with water and then press two together, the water freezes and holds the ice pieces together like glue!  They can build castles and forts to their hearts’ content!  I also add a salt shaker so that they can observe what happens as salt is added to ice.  inevitably, they’ll eventually want to chop at the ice (particularly if they’re only partially frozen, with water in the middle, a fortuitous and fascinating accident), so if you want to protect your paintbrushes, provide something else, like craft sticks to use for chopping.

This activity provides experience with science concepts like freezing and melting.  Talk about why the ice is slowly melting and discuss whether the ice would stay frozen or melt outside right now!  It also provides a frigid sensory experience that paves the way for language development as you use synonyms for the word “cold”, like “freezing”, “frigid”, “chilly”, and “icy”.  Other words to describe the experience, such as “slippery”, “smooth”, “melting”, “freezing”, and “dissolve,” easily come into play.  (And, if your children are anything like my own boys, words like “destroy”, “blast”, and “invincible” will also likely come into play.)

See how much learning fun you can have with a little water and coloring?  For a fun spin, you could also try the same activity outside on a snowy day!

For more wintry activities, click here!

There are a few more hours left to enter The Snowy Day Giveaway!



Filed under Learning through Play and Experience, sensory activity

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

The seasons are changing once again!  At least around these parts, the temperatures are dipping, the snow’s beginning to fly, and little children are once again fascinated to watch their own breath floating in front of them outside!  I’ve collected a list of some of my favorite winter-themed activities for you to use with your preschoolers- whether as part of a formal preschool curriculum, as play group activities, or as projects to do around the kitchen table!

Exploring the theme of winter provides many opportunities for variety of developmental objectives.  Aside from specific activities that each promote different developmental strengths, the topic of winter itself is, in general, a science topic.  Taking time to explore outdoors and to observe the characteristics of the changing seasons builds earth science knowledge as well as promoting questioning and discovery as part of that scientific process.  Sensory skills are certainly involved as they collect that information!  Winter is also a perfect time to explore the changing states of water into ice and snow and back again.  (And back to ice again.  And back to water again.  They could do that all day…)

Start out by just discussing some of the changes the children are noticing.  You may need to guide them by asking questions like: “How does it feel outside?”  “What do you see outside?”  “What kind of clothes do you wear outside?”  This discussion could be particularly meaningful after the children have just come in from outside time or just arrived at school.  Talk about their observations and make mental notes, or create a chart together, to record their ideas.  Their comments may give you new ideas for avenues to explore!  You may also want to revisit your Four Seasons chart to illustrate the changing seasons and connect to their existing ideas and experiences from their fall activities.

So here’s the list of activities!  I’ll link back to this post as I add more details for specific activities.  So bundle up and enjoy this new, cold season with your little ones!

Sensory Activities:

Rice in the Sensory Table — (Either Colored Rice, or just plain white for the “snowy effect”.  I add scoops, funnels, and cars and soon we have a snow storm on our hands!)

Ice Sculptures

Iced Shaving Cream

Bring in the Snow!

Creative Art Activities:

Crayons and Watercolors –  (Use white crayons on white paper and then paint with watercolors.  The children can do the coloring or you can leave “secret messages” or draw snowflakes for them to find as they paint.)

A Brainstorm of Snow Storm Paints

Snow Scene Collage

Snow Dough

Songs, Fingerplays, and Games:

These are the Four Seasons (Yes, again!  It’s a new season!)

Five Little Snowmen

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – Creative Movement

Mr. Bear

Snow Clouds

Snowman Play and Freeze (From Snowmen at Night Book Activity, but you could continue to use the game independently)

Mitten Match


Snowflake Tortillas

Snacks to Warm You Up

Fresh Snow Ice Cream!

Outside Activities

Book Activities:

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Whole Language “What do you like to do in the snow?”)

All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle (Snowman Craft)

Snowmen at Night  by Caralyn Buehner (Snowman Play and Freeze Game)

Snip, Snip, Snow! by Nancy Poydar (Filter Flakes)

Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin and Fumi Kosaka (Hat Craft – Patterning)

Author Study: Jan Brett

More Great Winter Books

*By the way, this time of year is also a perfect time to focus on the social skills of service and sharing.  Regardless of your center’s policy about celebrating holidays, you can have a Service Party  with or without the trappings of Christmas, and help your little ones help others!

Stay warm and stay tuned!

Top photo by ivanmarn.


Filed under Unit Themes

Dinosaurs Frozen in Time

dscn1182Try this activity in your sensory table for your dinosaur fans!  In containers of various sizes, freeze sand, shells, plastic dinosaurs, and or plastic bones in water.  (If your items tend to float, freeze the container half full with the water and the items.  Once it’s frozen, and holding the items in place, you can fill the container the rest of the way with water and freeze again.)

Place these prehistoric ice cubes in your sensory bin alone or with sand.  You can also bury them in the sand for even more fun!  Add containers of warm water with droppers or larger containers with warm water that the ice cubes can be submerged in. 

Children will experiment with a variety of ways of removing the ice (chipping it away, using heat from their hands, the warm water in the bin, or even moving the ice cube to a sink).  As they do so, they will also notice a change in textures and patterns in the ice as it melts.  This activity also gives them first hand experience with phases of matter and the properties of water.  You may even tie this activity in with the hypothesis that dinosaurs may have become extinct because the earth became too cold.  This science/sensory activity can also be extended into a language activity as you engage the children in discussion about their activity, and incorporate terms like “melt”, “liquid”, “solid”, “frozen”, and “thaw”.  Additionally, using tools such as tweezers and droppers build fine motor skills necessary for writing.  Your preschool paleontologists will be building skills while freeing the frozen dinosaurs!




 Click here for more dinosaur ideas!


Filed under Learning through Play and Experience, science activity, sensory activity

Iced Shaving Cream

dscn0921Shaving cream is wonderful!  What child can resist plunging ten wriggling fingers into that fantastic, foamy stuff?

For this spin on the old favorite, make some ice cubes colored with food coloring or watercolor powder.  If you wish, place toothpicks in them before freezing for easier handling.  Let the children manipulate the ice in the shaving cream.  As they do so, the cubes will melt and color the foam, while also changing its texture a bit.  The children love to squish the foam, melt the ice with the warmth of their hands, and mix the colorful foam into secondary colors. 

Have rags nearby and encourage the children to wear smocks.  The good news is that shaving cream is washable (though take note of how much and what kind of coloring you use in the ice for their staining factors).  In fact the kids will likely come out cleaner than when they dove in.  The bad news is, that all that clean foam will quickly be all the way up their arms, and will likely creep onto a few bellies and chins as well!

This is a great science and sensory activity, giving the children the opportunity to feel several textures and to change those textures as well.  Billowy foam becomes denser and more creamy.  Rough, cold ice becomes more smooth as they rub it, then changes to water and mixes with the foam.  The children will experiment with the concepts of cause and effect and changing states of matter, as well as with mixing colors.  Language skills will be enhanced as they verbalize their experience, talking about the sensations and transformations.

For more activities for a Winter theme, click here!


Filed under Learning through Play and Experience, sensory activity