Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Frozen treasures

If you're looking for something easy to set up (but you do need to plan at least 24 hours in advance) that will occupy your toddler for an hour plus then keep reading...

Digging items out of ice - is there anything more exciting to a toddler than liberating "treasures"?! I usually pick either small cheap objects that are "new treasures" (first activity below) or recycle old things he hasn't seen (or been allowed to play with!) before (second activity). You can get as simple or as fancy as you like - lob  everything in a big Tupperware with water and freeze it in one solid block, or freeze in individual mini portions. The choice is yours :) you could even used coloured water to make the ice.

Frozen treasure block

This was the first big block we tried. D was 2 and a half. When the ice was rock solid he wasn't sure about it but as soon as it started melting a bit and he liberated his first "treasure" he was hooked!

I froze the ice block in layers so that the objects were evenly scattered throughout. Retrospectively I think he might've enjoyed it more if the block had been less high, making it easier for him to get to the buried objects. If you have a group of kids doing it then a bigger block will be better - one of D's friends was here but wasn't really interested in playing with it so it ended up being a lot of ice for one little person! His excitement levels definitely rose as the ice melted and this was the first time we talked about water melting ice and using salt to help melt ice faster.

Frozen lego

We did this one recently (D is 34 months) and it's very interesting what a difference a few months make! This time I froze a few lego men and some 5p pieces in their own domed ice cube (using one of Iz's weaning pots).  I only half filled each well first and then put in the items and let it freeze before filling up the rest of the hole. This meant the objects were not all at the bottom (they float) when I flipped the cubes over, but halfway up. Once they were frozen I put them into a large baking tray, added a little bit of water and froze once more.

The set-up:
- frozen tray
- small dish with salt
- spoon, fork, knife (I used baby ones so they weren't too sharp and/or big)
- squeezy bottle with warm water (coloured pink)
- squeezy bottle with cold water (coloured blue)

As soon as D saw the lego men he was hooked. Interestingly he only targeted one ice mound at a time and carefully worked on it until that man or 5p was free. Then onto the next one. I reminded him how the salt would help melt the ice and so he put little piles on the top and then watched as the ice started to crack. I love hearing how his language and understanding is progressing, saying things like "listen mummy, it's cracking like an egg" and "look at that new hole".

It was also a great way to introduce hot and cold. I used pink and blue food colouring to emphasise which bottle was which but D could already easily identify just by feeling. When he'd used all the original water I re-filled the bottles from the icey water in the tray and he quickly realised how much colder the ice made the water.

And for me? I felt like we were freeing Han Solo trapped in the ice - a young Harrison Ford needing my help? I'm down with that ;)

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