Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nature Ice Play

Hi, I'm Louise and I'm so excited to be guest-posting here on Squiggles and Bubbles! My usual place to share what I've been up to with my 2 year old boy (who is lovingly known as 'Darth' because of my husband's love of all things Star-Wars,) is on Building Blocks and Acorns. 'Darth' absolutely loves getting outdoors, whatever the weather, so I wanted to share this activity with you (as featured in 'Go Barefoot' magazine.)

Ice-sensory play with nature is a fantastic activity to do all year round and if the weather is especially bad outside, you can bring the nature indoors and put the ice in a tub on the kitchen floor!
nature ice play side on

You will need: A freezer-proof container Water (in a jug) Natural items (flowers, herbs, pine-cones, berries etc. depending upon the season.) Natural food colouring (optional) Container and 'tools' for ice play. Getting Started Before you begin making your nature ice-block, you can do another activity in itself; a nature scavenger hunt! Get outdoors and collect natural objects that are safe and appropriate for your child. This is also a great opportunity to encourage your child to take care of nature; don't pick leaves off living trees, but only off the ground. The same goes for flowers and petals etc. You can also return the items back to nature when you are finished.  

Step 1:
Once you have collected everything you'd like to use, position the natural objects you'd like to see on the top, so that they are upside down in your freezer-proof container. Carefully pour a small amount of water (just enough to freeze the objects in place, but not too much or they'll start to float!) Pop it in the freezer until it's solid.

Top Tip: You may want to add a little food colouring onto each layer, so that it gradually gets a deeper colour and the top is beautifully clear.  

Step 2:
ice play 2
 Once your first layer is frozen, start to build up layers of ice by carefully positioning materials at the edge of the container and adding a little water at a time. Freeze each layer as you create it.  

Step 3:
nature ice play main
 Be sure to put your glistening ice-block (doesn't it just look like a beautiful glass paper-weight?) into a large container like a clean washing-up bowl, so that your child is left with the natural objects (such as flower petals and herbs,) floating in cool water... MORE sensory play!
 melting ice
Using 'Tools' Use 'tools' to enhance the play experience and provide opportunities for developing fine-motor skills. Depending upon your child, you may wish to use a clean scrubbing brush, funnels, sieves, sponges or scoops! Older children who know not to taste the liquid, could also experiment with salt on the ice to see how ice changes the melting-point of ice!

Sensory Exploration 'Darth' absolutely loved smelling the different herbs as they were released from the ice and it didn't take him long before he was exploring with his feet, too!
 feet in water
So how will you use this idea? What natural items would you like to put in it? You could head to a nearby woodland and collect leaves, pine cones etc. or put pebbles and shells in from the beach.  
About Building Blocks and Acorns Louise is a part time Primary School teacher and also part time Nursery worker, as well as 'Mummy' to 'Darth.' She writes about the activities she does with her son and often they have a nature and sensory theme. You can follow Building Blocks and Acorns on Facebook and visit the website here.

Please always supervise your infant/child at play.  Please stay within arms reach and never leave infants/children unattended.  You know you're infant/child best, use your own judgement-considering your infant/child's temperament, habits, behaviour and development before you play with a new play medium.


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