One thing I love about summer is that we are fortunate to spend a lot of time outside. I prop open our sun room door, and the kids drift outside into the open air and sunshine. From there they participate in a lot of free play, with me mostly as a co-conspirator (though sometimes as a guide).
Sadly, summer is almost over, but there is still time for preschoolers to participate in meaningful play experiences outside. If you are curious what constitutes meaningful play, I recommend checking out NAEYC’s (National Association for the Education of Young Children) five essentials to meaningful play (Read it here).
What is one last EASY and FUN thing you need to do to encourage meaningful play with your preschoolers before summer ends: ice play!
YEP. Ice manipulation leads to a plethora of meaningful play experiences with no planning or prepping needed. Just dump a few trays of ice cubes into a bowl (or a fancy chip tray) and let the kids at it. We have tried indoor ice activities in the winter time (we did some ice painting this past winter specifically), but it just does not have the same impact. Ice play works best when the weather is scorching hot, and the ice is cool and refreshing. So don’t miss this final opportunity to relish in this awesome play experience!
Ice play initated with sampling of the ice. In other words, my preschool and toddler put the ice straight inside their mouths. Don’t discourage this; ice is one of the few things children can experiment with orally. Let children explore and investigate the ice spontaneously and freely.
Then they took the ice to the car ramps for some ice racing. Ice cubes also raced down the slide. And yes the ice got dirty here, and yes they put those pieces of ice back into their mouths. Yum!
They put some ice into a soapy water bucket. Up until this point I was letting them explore on their own, but I couldn’t resist the guiding question here: “does ice sink or float?!”
We also got to witness what happened to the ice when we held it in our hands too long. My toddler squealed: “It’s drippy!” Another guiding question here: “How does it feel as it melts?”
Our hands were pretty cold by this point, so we discussed how our body heat was leaving our hands and going into the ice!
As time wore on, we witnessed our ice cubes get smaller and smaller (what was left of them; I did have to refill the chip tray again). When there was nothing but a puddle left, I inquired as to what happened to the rest of our ice! “They melted!” my preschooler stated matter-of-factly, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. He told me!
If you are interested in pairing your ice activity with a book, we read The Snowy Day (aff) today after our ice play. There is a cute scene where the boy’s pocket is wet from the snow melting that coincides nicely with today’s experiences.
What do your preschoolers do when they are given ice to experiment with on a hot, sunny day?