Ice Exploration – Research-Backed At-Home Activities – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Ice Exploration

Take on the role of arctic explorer to uncover treasures hidden in the ice! This activity is an excellent opportunity for sensory play for younger children, and while it may seem challenging at first, getting through it is a way your child can practice persistence, and learn to see setbacks as opportunities. Even when a first attempt doesn’t go as planned, there’s always another creative solution to test out!

Learning Goals

  • Take Risks and Persist Through Challenge
  • Build STEM Knowledge
  • Come Up with Ideas and Try Them Out

Materials Required

  • Items to freeze in water, such as leaves, shells, pennies, small toys, etc.
  • Small plastic containers of different shapes and sizes
  • Large bowls or flat plastic tubs
  • Tools for defrosting, such as:
    • Small brushes (e.g. toothbrushes, paintbrushes, or nail brushes)
    • Eyedroppers or turkey baster
    • Salt
    • Flashlights
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)

Tips for Adults

  • Your child may become impatient while trying to recover their item from the ice. If they want to give up, encourage them to take a short break (e.g. do 10 jumping jacks or three yoga poses) and then come back to the activity.


  • Take the items you’ve chosen and place them into plastic containers filled with water. Add food coloring to the water if desired. Put the entire container in the freezer for several hours or days, depending on the size.
  • Once the water in the container is completely frozen, pop out the ice and place it into the large bowls or flat plastic tubs.
  • Consider the tools you have available, and select one to help you get one of the items out of its ice cube. Ask your child questions to help them narrow down the best tool for the job:
    • How will you use each tool?
    • What do you think will happen when you use that tool?
  • Prompt your child to think beyond the materials available, by asking them what other tools they think they could use or what other techniques they could try.
Support BADM during COVID-19
Bay Area Discovery Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing children with research-backed early learning experiences that inspire creative problem solving. We need your help now more than ever.

Scroll to Top