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 Amazon.com,

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.

IMG_3328

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!

IMG_3357

Thanks for popping by today!  If this is your first visit to my blog, be sure to pop over and like us on facebook.  There’s always lots of fun and sharing happening there.  Follow us on Pinterest too so you don’t miss any of the good stuff!

coloured ice sculptures happy hooligans

Comments

  1. says

    That looks like soooo much fun!!! Shame ite never gets much cooler than 16c where we live!!! We’ll have to plan a trip to the snow for this one. Thanks for all of your lovely posts. Many of the activities you do have inspired many a play date at our home.

  2. says

    I’m so glad that you found me! I love these! We make things with colored ice, too but I don’t think I’ve ever made such of an abundance. Which a terrific idea! Thank you for sharing your well photographed photos, as well! I’ll definitely be back!

    • happyhooligans says

      Well, I got a little carried away with my ice making, Gina. You never really know how much you’re going to need. lol There’s so much more than what you see in the photos of the post! There were 2 more plastic bags and another plastic bucket full of cubes in my freezers. We’ll be doing this a few more times before winter is over!

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks, Kierna. I hope it gets cold enough for you to try it! Your little ones would love this. So would you!

    • happyhooligans says

      I really hope you get a chance to do it, Kim. It’s so cool! Crossing fingers that Colorado is cold and snowy when you’re there!

    • happyhooligans says

      Thank you, Ester. I’m not exactly sure what your comment says, but I can tell it’s full of happiness and thanks. Thank you!! xx

  3. Jessica @ Play Trains! says

    This is so awesome! And beautiful. We’ll have to try this…eventually/ I’m pinning this to my Winter board, because it looks like we may not be getting snow this year, unless the weather changes its mind soon! It hasn’t even gotten all that cold. Great idea!

    • happyhooligans says

      It’s been a really wacky winter here too, Jessica. Not too many days that have been well below freezing and perfect for something like this. I’m glad we got a chance to get at it last week. It was really neat.

  4. says

    Your ice sculptures turned out amazing. I love the photos. Water is a very clever touch, wish I’d thought of that. The ice cubes are a good idea too, i went for bigger lumps but i think yours looks prettier. My ice post goes up on thursday (for kids coop)

  5. funatchelleshouse says

    Those sculptures are beautiful!! However you will not be catching me outside in 32 degree weather!!! if I can avoid it at all…I am a cold weather scare-dy cat :-)

    Thanks for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

    • happyhooligans says

      I detest the cold as well, Michelle, but our winter months are so long here that there’s just no avoiding it. At least doing something fun and colourful like this helps to make it more bearable. Come on, Springtime!!

  6. chantale says

    i look at so many crafting site and i must say i really love yours! so many new little ideas i can use at work with little cost!.. Wonderful keep it ! ..Just wondering though, the cubes didn’t freeze all together? or i need to keep small bunches to avoid this? i can just see it becoming a giant sculpture in my freezer before the kids get at it. ( i have 3 trays so it might take a bit of time to stock pile)

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Chantale. Once their completely frozen, you can dump them into a plastic bag or a big bowl, and immediately put them back in the freezer. They’ll stay separated as long as they don’t get a chance to melt at all. If that happens, they get wet, and stick to each other, so just work quickly, and bag them up, pop them back in the freezer, and start again. It always takes me several days to stockpile mine too, but you can use small cups and bowls too. Yogurt pots etc. Just run them under hot water for a split second, and your ice form will pop right out.

    • happyhooligans says

      I had someone just say today that they tried it in warm weather, Colleen. Sure it would work, but like you say, it would just melt more quickly.

  7. says

    I love this idea. This would be really fun for the kids, and the contrast of colors against the snow is amazing!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  8. says

    This looks like so much fun! Wish we had some snow :) Thank you for sharing at the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Spot last week! You are featured as one of my favorites this week :)

  9. says

    I still love this idea and I’m waiting and waiting for our temperature to drop enough here to give them a try this year with the kids.

    Thank you for linking up to Tuesday Tots last week and just to let you know that I will be featuring this over on Rainy Day Mum

  10. Christine says

    Haven’t stopped making coloured ice cubes since I saw this. When inside, my DS enjoys using tongs to transfer them from the sink to a container.

  11. LeAnn Taylor says

    We just had a cold snap here in the Deep South, so I tried this out with the kids. I was so excited I almost made more ice than we could use! I don’t have that many ice cube trays, so I used Glad and Rubbermaid containers of varying sizes. Then we stacked the ice blocks on top of one another to make sculptures. I used liquid water colors to dye the water. They were all so beautiful! The kids are enjoying watching the sculptures as they change in the warm sun. Thanks so much for this wonderful idea!

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