22 Engaging Ice Play Activities for Kindergarten/EYFS
Ice play is a fun and engaging way for kindergarten children to learn and explore their surroundings. It can help them develop their creativity, problem-solving skills, and fine motor skills. In this post, we will discuss some creative ice play activities for kindergarten children that teachers can use to promote learning and fun in the classroom. From frozen bubble wands to ice cream sandwiches, these activities are sure to provide hours of entertainment and education for young minds.
The Benefits of Ice Play
Sensory Benefits of Ice Play
Ice play provides unmatched sensory stimulation. children are intrinsically drawn to the novel visual qualities of ice the crystalline structures, translucent appearance, and even normal colours when frozen are visually intriguing. The coldness of ice on the skin generates exhilarating tactile reactions. Ice can produce auditory interest through cracking, crunching, or splushy pouring. Combined, these varied sensory elements capture children’s attention while helping them become more aware of their senses. The vestibular sense is engaged through carrying, moulding, or sliding ice. For some children, the coldness is calming when they are overwhelmed. With supervision, ice play allows exposure to new sensations in a controlled way.
Developing Fine Motor Skills Through Playing With Ice
Scooping, grasping, squeezing, hammering, pouring, and catching ice exercises a children’s wrist, hand, and finger muscles. Eye-hand coordination improves through focused play like fishing out embedded toys from ice. In-hand object manipulation skills are built as children learn to handle ice cubes. The resistance when chiselling frozen items promotes hand strength. Pouring games develop controlled wrist motions and dexterity.
Ice play allows children to explore STEM concepts like freezing, melting, floating, sinking, volume, and temperature. Making observations, asking questions, and problem-solving are all sparked by ice investigations. Predicting which items will become frozen or identifying the order in which objects freeze and melt exercises critical thinking. Comparing quantities of ingredients to see how quickly things freeze involves trial-and-error and noticing cause/effect relationships.
Frozen figurines, ice paints, and small world landscapes inspire fantasy play, storytelling, and role-playing. Ice accessories can be incorporated into any imaginative theme like a frozen magic wand for fairies or an icy road for cars. Ice materials’ novelty and open-ended nature provides endless symbolic play opportunities.
Social-Emotional Skill Development
Playing together at an icy sensory table encourages sharing materials, taking turns, cooperation, and curiosity. Frustration tolerance, patience, and persistence are needed when ice play doesn’t go as planned. Negotiating who gets which frozen toy makes for authentic peer interactions. The social nature of collaborative ice play teaches essential emotional skills.
Academic Concepts Linked to Ice Play
Alongside STEM and sensory learning, ice play reinforces pre-academic concepts. Language development happens through new vocabulary exposure about ice properties, articulating observations, and conversational play. Early literacy and writing emerges by making marks in ice paint or bins. Math skills like counting, sorting, classifying, measuring, and graphing are seamlessly incorporated into ice activities.
Using Ice Play to Promote Language Development
Here are 10 ways ice play can promote language development in young children:
- Introduce new vocabulary words related to ice frozen, melt, water, slippery, cold, etc. Use descriptive words like crunchy, chilly, wet. Reinforce words through repetition during play.
- Encourage conversation about observations. Ask open-ended questions like “What do you see happening to the ice?” “How does the ice feel?” Prompt children to describe textures, temperatures, and changes over time.
- Incorporate storytelling. Make up imaginary scenarios together about ice characters, and act out narratives with frozen small-world toys.
- Read books about ice, winter, and polar animals. Ask children to recall details from stories. Extend narratives through role play.
- Play games requiring following directions like “Put the penguin on top of the ice cube” and using positional words like under, beside, and behind.
- Sing songs and recite rhymes featuring cold weather vocabulary as you play.
- Incorporate letter and word identification using alphabet cookie cutters to freeze letters or ice cube tray words. Match letters while playing.
- Encourage collaboration and turn-taking in conversations during sensory bin or activity sharing. Model polite language.
- Do show-and-tell to describe frozen creations. Articulate detailed explanations.
- Invent silly word games like coming up with “cold” compound words (snowflake, frostbite, snowcone).
The social, sensory-rich nature of ice play lends itself well to language learning in an engaging way. Following the children’s lead makes for natural conversational opportunities.
While highly enriching, ice play comes with several crucial safety considerations. Adult supervision is essential the whole time. Choking hazards need to be avoided by keeping ice chunks large. Loose clothing should be tucked away so as not to get soaked. Activities should be set up on waterproof surfaces. Signs of adverse reactions like shivering or fingers turning blue are important to watch for. With careful monitoring and reasonable precautions, ice play can be an extremely rewarding experience for young learners.
Choose implements for chipping away at ice carefully, baby cutlery is good, do not use anything sharp or thin edged. It can help to get the ice out of the freezer up to an hour before play depending on size.
16 Ice Play Activity Ideas
We froze our fingers testing out loads of activity ideas so you don’t have to. Here are some tried and tested favourites.
1. Frozen Sensory Bin
Theme: Polar animals
Resources: plastic animals, fake snow (or ice shavings), blue/white beads or pom poms, ice cubes
Guide: Hide animals and other items in a shallow tray or sensory bin. Let children discover and play. Talk about melting ice, and Arctic habitats. Extend by reading polar animal books.
2. Ice Excavation
Resources: Small plastic dinosaurs, sand, rocks, ice cubes
Guide: Bury items in wet sand and freeze overnight. Let children chip away at the icy sand block and discover each dinosaur. Extend by documenting finds or linking to a scavenger hunt board
3. Frozen Building Blocks
Resources: Lego pieces, toy cars, ice cube trays, water
Guide: Freeze Lego pieces and cars in ice blocks. Let children investigate how to free them. Extend by building structures for Arctic explorers.
4. Ice Fishing
Theme: Pond life
Resources: Plastic fish, magnetic fishing rods, blue streamers, ice cube tray
Guide: Place fish and streamers in a bucket lake. Let children catch fish with magnetic rod negotiating the ice cubes/blocks. Extend by identifying fish types or sorting by size/colour.
5. Frozen Painting
Theme: Art studio
Resources: Ice cube tray, washable paints, paint brushes, paper
Guide: Freeze paint in ice tray. Let the children use paintbrushes to colour as ice melts or use gloves and paint with the ice cubes, sliding them across the paper. Extend by naming new colours.
6. Frozen Letters
Resources: Alphabet cookie cutters, water, food colouring, toys
Guide: Freeze alphabet letters with toys inside. Let children identify letters and match to initial letter sound of toy.
7. Ice Excavation Bin
Theme: Outer space
Resources: Space shuttles, astronauts, rocks, ice
Guide: Bury space figures and rocks in ice. Let children rescue the astronauts with tools. Extend by creating space stories.
8. Frozen Track
Resources: Toy cars/trains, water, ramp or tubes
Guide: Freeze water in tubes or ramps to make icy tracks. Let children race vehicles down. Extend by measuring speed. A chest freezer or shallow tray left outside on a frosty winters night is best for this.
9. Frozen Orbeez
Resources: Water beads, water, sea creatures
Guide: Freeze water beads and sea creatures into ice. Let children investigate as ice melts. Extend by sorting creatures.
10. Ice Cloud Dough
Resources: Shaving cream, blue food colouring, water
Guide: Mix ingredients and freeze. Let children scoop and mould cold dough. Extend by discussing weather concepts.
11. Frozen Building Plates
Resources: Building plates/blocks, water, eyedroppers
Guide: Freeze water on building plates. Let children add blocks and drops of water to build upward. Extend into engineering structures.
12. Ice Painting
Resources: Ice cubes, watercolour paints, brushes, paper
Guide: Use ice to paint watercolours on paper. Extend by naming new colours and pointing out melting.
13. Frozen Shape Sorter
Resources: Shape sorter, water, geometric shapes
Guide: Freeze geometric shapes into ice form tray. Let children manipulate and sort as ice melts. Extend by identifying shapes.
14. Ice Fishing
Theme: Pond life
Resources: Colander, water, plastic fish, string, magnet
Guide: Freeze water and fish in a colander. Let children catch fish with a magnet and string. Extend by sorting types of fish.
15. Frozen Small World
Resources: Small plastic animals, fake grass/plants, water
Guide: Make various small frozen habitats with animals. Let children play out imagination themes as ice melting. Extend with stories.
Theme: Learning about the world
Resources: a sand pit, sand, big ice blocks
Guide: Make some sand mountains and place blocks on the tope, observe the run off and creation of streams and how it affects the sand/shape of the sand pile. This one may be for older children or geography teachers like me.
Activities Freezing Other Things
These Ice play ideas go beyond frozen water so are likely to be a bit messier and more expensive to set up.
1. Frozen Bubble Wands:
Theme: Bubble Fun
Resources: Bubble wands, water, food coloring
Guide: Dip the bubble wands in water and food coloring, then freeze them. Children can investigate as the ice melts, and pop the frozen circles out of the wands as they release the ice.
2. Ice Cream Sandwich:
Theme: Ice Cream Delight
Resources: Ice cream, cookies, sprinkles
Guide: Freeze the ice cream sandwiches and sprinkles, then let children decorate them with sprinkles and other toppings.
3. Ice Castle:
Theme: Castle Fun
Resources: Ice blocks, toothpicks, marshmallows
Guide: Encourage children to build an ice castle using the ice blocks, and marshmallows or strawberry/chocolate sauce (to stick them together). They can use their imagination to create a unique and creative ice castle.
4. Ice Playdough:
Theme: Playdough Fun
Resources: playdough, food coloring, toys
Guide: Encourage children to use the playdough to create different shapes and structures. They can also add food coloring and toys to make it more fun and creative. Then Freeze them!
5. Ice Lanterns:
Theme: Light Fun
Resources: Ice, LED candles, markers
Guide: Freeze Ice in plastic or card i.e tetrapack cartons add a ball of paper that you can tear out the size of the LED candles. Encourage children to use the ice lanterns to light up a dark room and create a magical atmosphere. They can also use markers to draw on the ice lanterns and make them more unique.
6. Ice Cream Sundae:
Theme: Ice Cream Sundae
Resources: Ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles, toppings
Guide: Freeze the ice cream, whipped cream, and toppings, then let children decorate their ice cream sundaes with the frozen ingredients. They can use their imagination to create different flavors and designs.