It’s snowing here as I write this, and it maybe snowing where you are as you read this. It is winter in the Valley and the Hilltowns are beautiful, the river still flowing, glazed like pottery with ice. My toddler watches hypnotically as the water runs in and under and around. Clear blue water meets white ice; it’s fascinating. Getting too close to ice and water in the winter does not sound like fun with a toddler. So I decided to come up with some creative ways to experiment with ice.
Find an eclectic mix of random toys (tiny house, cars, people) and set them up on a shallow tray. Arrange the toys into a scene and set them in water. Depending on the size of the toys used, I would suggest ¼ – ½ inch on the bottom of the tray. Set the tray outside on a cold day and let it freeze. After everyone and everything is like we actually are – stuck solid to the ice – the fun can begin. Give your toddler tools to chip at the ice. Some of my favorite tools for activities like this are child-sized spoons and forks, chopsticks, and cheese knives. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can give them a bottle of warm water to speed up the defrosting process. Or, if your child is old enough not to eat it, add some salt to clear the “roads.”
Let your child pull and crack and bang and taste the ice. Let them free the car stuck in the “driveway;” let them save the horse from “the flooded icy field;” let them feel the frozen world they created. Let them experience the icy New England we adults know all too well.
Let them dredge up questions about ice. Talk about solid and liquid forms. Tell them about temperature, how it rises and falls. How summer is often warm and, sometimes, winter in the Valley is down right cold.
I saw this in a classroom I visited at Gan Keset in Northampton and I loved it. I had to try it. Its simple and fun! Just freeze watered down tempera paint in ice cube trays. When they are completely frozen use them as a medium to create an amazing sensory filled work of art. The artwork is stunning, it starts off like markers – thin and precise – and ends like watercolors – a wild explosion of color. The cubes can be saved in the freezer indefinitely and will be fun to pull out in the summer, if we ever thaw!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programing for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.