When it comes to water play activities, this Ice Age Bin is one of our favourites! It’s also one of the funnest, simple science activities out there. We have done this salt and ice and water activity so many times over the years, and each time we change things up a little so it’s new and exciting each time! Our ice age bin will cost you nothing to put together, and, it will keep your little ones busy for a good, long time!
It’s funny how we ended up doing this today: back in the fall, I filled a plastic container with water, tossed in a few small toys and random objects (buttons, shoe laces etc), and popped it in the freezer, thinking we’d have fun with it on a warm fall day. Well, the temps must have dropped, either that or I just kept forgetting about it because we never did get around to using it.
Every month or so, I’d run across that container of ice while rummaging through the freezer, and the other day I realized we’d better do something with it before I close my daycare’s doors for summer!
Setting up our ice age bin:
This morning I placed the ice block in a clear bin, and set out some salt shakers, some coloured drive-way salt (stir in a few drops of food colouring), a bowl of coloured water, and some plastic syringes.
The Hooligans were just itching to get at this as I was setting it up. They’re good to give me a bit of space, and not come tooooooo close when I’m setting out an activity because they know that I like them to experience that “wow factor” when I call them over see it. I love hearing them whisper, and gasp and giggle as they try to inconspicuously sneak closer to get a glimpse of what it might be.
Then I call them over, and it’s all “Oooohs and Ahhhhs” and “Wows” as they investigate everything. 🙂
It didn’t take them long to figure out what the science objective was here, and they wasted no time getting to work.
As they worked, they talked to themselves and each other, they planned and problem-solved, they laughed and told jokes, and they worked with determination.
They sprinkled and they squirted and they rubbed and they dug away with their little spoons. They were so determined to free the toys. And what was cool was that they hadn’t seen these toys in months so they were especially eager to get them out. Big cheers went up when “Boots” was finally freed.
They worked so hard, and they all worked together. They stopped for a minute when they realized they could do some interesting things with the syringes (like squirt the photographer from about 10 feet), and then they got right back to it.
I honestly expected at least one of them to get bored or frustrated and move on to something else. I was wrong. They were totally committed to their task. They were on a mission.
No-one moved away from that bin until every single object had been freed from the ice. Time from start to finish? An hour and 20 minutes.
Yep. That’s right. An hour and twenty minutes. Are you still with me, or are you already running madly around your home gathering up small toys and random objects? Listen, you could make your ice block in a bigger container than I did, and make this activity last even longer!. We used warm water, but if you set your bin up in the shade and use cold water, you could probably get a couple of hours out of it! Woohoo for you!
*Editing to add that we’ve since done a similar activity on a larger scale that kept them busy for TWO hours! Click here to see our Dino Dig!
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.