Coloured Ice Sculptures in the Snow

Looking for something fun to do outside with the kids this winter?  Try building coloured ice sculptures in the snow.

Now, we’ve played with coloured ice in the snow before, but THIS…  actually building a large structure with a variety of colourful ice cubes and blocks… this was new for us.

The hooligans loved it!  They’re toddler and preschool aged children, but this is definitely a backyard winter activity that the whole family can get into together and enjoy.  Kids of all ages, and grown-ups too, will love the challenge, and the beauty that this activity provides.

Backyard Ice Sculptures - Happy Hooligans

I’ve always wanted to do something like this with coloured ice, but I never quite knew how to get the cubes to stick together.

coloured ice sculptures = happy hooligans

Then a friend in Ottawa shared photos of her boys participating in some Winterlude (winter festival) activities, and they were building some awesome structures with coloured blocks of ice.  When I asked her how it was done, I learned that the secret ingredient is….   drum roll please…   a bottle of water.   I’ll explain in a moment. various ice trays and storage containers for making coloured ice cubes

First things first:

Gather up your ice cube trays and small food containers and storage containers.  I have quite a few of them, and over the course of 2 days, I used them all several times, and made a ton of ice.  I would fill up all of the trays and containers with coloured water, and I’d freeze them (some outside over night, and the rest split between the fridge-freezer and our chest freezer) and once frozen, I’d dump them all into a large bin in the chest freezer, and I’d start again.  This is about half of my stash.  I still have a few trays and a couple of ziplock bags full of cubes reserved for the next time we do this!

bin of coloured ice cubes

I coloured my ice with these Neon colours by McCormick.  You can click on the image below and order them through,

or can use whatever brand you have on hand.    GO EASY on the colour though!  For my first round of ice, I put one drop in every ice cube compartment, but I didn’t like how dark the colours were.  I kept them, and we used them, but for the next batches, I would mix up a jug of water with 5 or 6 drops of colour in it, and I’d pour that whole jug into a tray or two.   Much better.

3 trays of coloured ice for coloured ice sculptures

The perfect conditions:

Once you’ve got enough ice made, you just need to wait for a nice, COLD day!  You want it to be BELOW zero (celcius) or below 32 Farnenheit for this to work.

The secret ingredient:

A bottle of water!  I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before!  Every time you add an ice cube to your structure, dribble a bit of water over the cubes, and have the children count to ten.  The water freezes quite quickly upon contact with the ice, and while the children are counting, forms a glue to hold the cubes together!

coloured ice sculptures

Our temperature was hovering right around zero today, so some cubes took longer than 10 seconds to freeze into place.  I think the colder it is, the quicker your water will freeze, and the more solid and sturdy your structure will be.


This was a great start for us today though.  The colours are gorgeous, and the ice shapes look good enough to eat!

coloured ice sculptures

I’m hoping for the temps to dip a little more so we can get back out there and add to it!


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coloured ice sculptures happy hooligans

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Happy Hooligans for kids crafts and activities from toddlers to preschoolers

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