Let Them Grow: Bringing A Taste of Winter Indoors!

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Chipping Away at Winter

As winter begins to wind down and we are left to unbury ourselves from the squishy sugar snow, I would like stir in a few more weeks of winter themed activities.

Recreating a frozen world is easy and by bringing a piece of winter to the table, you can create a fine motor and sensory adventure for your little one! All of these winter themed activities are variations of the same basic idea, freeze things inside ice and challenging your child to get them out. You can freeze the objects in ice cube trays, small plastic bowls or in giant trays. Add food-grade dye to match the theme, use sparkles or sand for texture- Have fun creating a mini frozen world. Then, offer tools such as squirt bottles of warm water, eye droppers, toothpicks, forks, child knives, tweezers, mini hammers, chop sticks… or whatever you can dream up to help excavate the ice.

Here are just a few suggestions. I like to do these at the table, in trays to hold the mess. These activities also work great in a water table, in the bathtub, or outside on the ground:

Jewel Mining

By freezing an eclectic mix of beads into ice cubes, your child can become a Jewel Miner, looking for gold or magical gems. Use sparkles and make this activity more engaging. I like to encourage the use of tweezers as grasping jewels with them is a big challenge.

Deep Sea Exploration

The frozen deep-sea theme can take many forms. It can be polar bears, penguins, seals, shells, sharks, or just fish. Use whatever small animals you can find- found objects like shells and rocks work beautifully.  I like to use blue food coloring for the older toddlers whom won’t eat the ice.

Treasure Hunt

Freeze coins, costume jewelry, princess crowns, and “gold” inside large blocks of ice, using a cake pan as a mold. Have your child count their collections, talk about where they are going on their treasure hunt, and describe what they find.

Dino Excavation

Using plastic dinosaurs, mix sand in with water and freeze dinosaur toys in ice sand.  Discuss excavation and the job duties of an archeologist. This is a fun activity to do in conjunction with a trip to one of our many local museums.

Remember to keep this activity age appropriate; don’t use sand if you know your child will want to eat the ice. Instead, flavor it by adding a splash of juice.  Mind the chocking hazards! Use big coins and beads or pom-poms for the younger ones and real money and smaller “jewels” for your older toddler and preschoolers. These types of projects expose your child to many great skills. They are being introduced to basic science concepts such as, solid to liquid,  floating and sinking, and erosion. They are using their fine motor and deductive reasoning skills to dig out these treasures with great enthusiasm,. They are focused on the goal of melting the ice. Children seem to love these activities, parents’ will too!


Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programing for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.

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