Join me on my quest to keep a toddler entertained in my garden and home, with nature as our inspiration, and with fun (and a bit of learning!) as our goal. My 2 and ½ year old will test out these simple and easy-to-do-at-home activities; we’ll let you know the results, and would love to hear how you get on, too. I’ll offer some Outdoor Learning Top Tips on how to adapt the activities for older children, and suggest what skills each activity helps you and your child explore. All the activities are simple, use mostly things you will find in and around your home, and will be free, and will hopefully help to keep you both entertained (and sane!) a they have done for me. Enjoy!
Nature in Ice
A mixture between a science experiment and an art project, this activity will help to engage children of all ages, from discovering how the ice caps melt, to being a simple sensory experience – fun for all the family!
Art and design
Science and experimenting
What you’ll need:
- Freezer safe containers – a variety of sizes is idea– ice cube trays work well too.
- A freezer
- Items found around the home and garden that you don’t mind freezing!
Get the containers and the water ready, and have a hunt around for interesting things to put in the water to freeze. Try to mix it up with things that float, things that sing, and things that are hard and soft. We used pebbles and sticks in one, flowers and leaves in another container, and then a mixture of all the above in the ice cube tray.
Once the items are in the containers, fill them up with water, and pop them in the freezer overnight.
Hey presto – you now have loads of frozen blocks to melt, float, crack open, or just admire!
Top tips (and what we learnt along the way):
- Pop the containers in a bit of water to loosen the ice up in side so you can tip the whole blocks out. Ours had some incredible patterns forming around the objects within the ice itself.
- Have a bowl/container of water to float some the ice blocks in.
- In hindsight, Oscar would have benefited from wearing gloves for this – his hands got really cold really quickly, which put him off for a while.
This activity really entertained Oscar from start to finish. He loved putting the items in the containers and pouring the water in, and was mesmerised by the blocks of ice. He seemed to enjoy the mixture of things we did with the different blocks – dropping some onto concrete and watching them break up and release the sticks and stones inside; slowly melting some in the bowl of water; and just letting others slide around in his hands.
For older ones –
- Does ice normally float or sink? Do you know why? And can you freeze different items into the ice to create different results?
- Freeze as big a block of ice as you can – perhaps in a balloon, or an old food container. Once fully frozen, float it in a bigger container (or the bath!) and see how it behaves as it gradually melts (without being touched). This can create a mini model of a floating ice berg.
- Try freezing a solid item (perhaps a toy, if its safe to do so) in a block of ice. Can you use tools (spoons, forks, etc.) to excavate it?
Thank you the National Lottery Heritage Fund for support with this content.