Everyday Items as Awesome Toys: ICE CUBES

Everyday Items as Awesome Toys: ICE CUBES
ice cubes image

How to Play with Ice cubes – The awesomeness of common items in play should not go unnoticed! In this series, we will explore one such common item each time and discuss five different ways to play with it.

This article is exploring the everyday item: ICE CUBES. Ice cubes are easy to make and a lot of fun for children to explore.


1. Stacking

Make square cubes or shapes that can be stacked (e.g. rectangles). Take the cubes out of the ice cube tray and allow the child to stack them. The ice cubes would be cold, therefore fun gloves can be a part of the game. Show the child how to stack one or two of the cubes. Allow the child to learn to pay attention to do this activity. Since the stacks may slip and fall it requires attention and persistence. A great way to build it in your child. For children with short attention spans, get them to count and stack one cube over the other and repeat this over a few times.

You can make a pretend fort too! Use language that talks about pretend and with small doll figurines a short pretend story can be built around this activity.


2. Ice Bag.

ice cube color ice and bagThis is a wonderful sensory activity. It requires the use of a ziplock bag, paints or food color, 2 to 3 ice cubes and some glitter (optional). Within the bag add few drops of paint or food color, ice cubes and sprinkles or glitter. Lock the bag tightly. To secure it, you can tape it closed. Lay the bag horizontally on the table and allow your child to move the ice within the bag. The colors and glitter will shift within the bag to form wonderful patterns as the child goes along. It is quite a calming yet fun activity for a child.


Add concepts to this game by assisting your child to make shapes on the bag, with his / her index finger; such as making a circle or triangle. A great way to build and encourage the skill of finger-pointing.


How to Play with Ice cubes


3. Paint with it.

ice cube painting 2This activity requires prior preparation. In an ice cube tray, add water and a variety of colors to individual cubes. Before popping it into the freezer, place a popsicle stick/ ice cream stick vertically into each cube. Once the ice cube sets, remove them with the sticks. The sticks will become the handle for the child to paint with.

Give a child a canvas, newspaper or any other surface to paint on. As the ice melts the colors are easily drawn onto the surface. This is loads of fun and can teach colors, shapes, talk about the concept of ‘melting’ etc. Great for building language!


4. Smash it!

ice cube smashDo you need an action-packed activity that provides proprioceptive input to your child? This is a fun one! In a large or mid-sized container, place water and several unbreakable toys (such as plastic). Allow the water to freeze ensuring that the toys are ‘caught’ within.

Use an outdoor space for the activity and give the child a ‘child-friendly’ hammer or sturdy wooden spoon. Let him/her hack through the ice to retrieve the toys that are within it.

If this game is played with two or more children, it can become competitive, wherein the children need to retrieve as many toys as they can!

How to Play with Ice cubes

5. Let it melt

ice cube - let it meltLike the above activity, this requires several toys hidden within the ice. However, in this activity, the child is asked to ‘wait patiently’ and watch the ice melt and then find the toy.

I love this game for building language. If the child can, they can wait for the ice cube to melt and see the toy. However, that may not be interesting to many. Therefore, I would prefer to set a timer (like a kitchen timer that rings after the set time) and get the child to return to the melting ice cube and spend some time talking about what s/he sees.

Using language related to forms of water, how wet the space below the ice has become, how much of the toy can they see now etc.


We hope you enjoy playing with these ideas!



Have other ideas, leave a comment on them! We’d love to hear from you.

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How to Play with Ice cubes

Tanushree Chandhok
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