Published on July 2, 2015

Want an inexpensive way to entertain your kids in the summer heat? Presley, Ford and I did a lot of experimenting and we had the most (freezing) fun with these three ice-centric activities:

Ice Block Excavation

If you judge an activity by how long it keeps your kids occupied, this is a great one for you and your little ice explorers.

What you need:

  • A bin
  • Toys that can get wet
  • Colored liquid or just plain water

What you do…For ice layers using different colored-liquid:

  • It takes time to freeze a large volume of water, so you’ll want to start this the night before.
  • Add toys to your bin and enough water to cover them. Let that freeze.
  • Pour cold water on top of your first layer and then add more toys. (Make sure to use cold liquid because warm liquid will crack your first layer.) Freeze again.
  • Repeat this method for adding layers until your bin is full and everything is frozen solid.

For just one layer (the much faster way):

  • Add water and toys and freeze until solid.

The challenge for your kids will be to free their toys from the ice…and trust me, your kids will be really motivated to get their toys.

For Presley and Ford, it was a matter of trial and error. First they tried hammering their toys out with toy tools, then melting the ice with salt and finally, pouring hot water over the ice. Their last strategy was a winner…but if that’s what your kids choose to do, make sure the water isn’t so hot that it’s dangerous for little fingers!

Ice Painting

A surprisingly not-messy artistic activity for your budding Picasso.

What you need:

  • Paints
  • An ice cube tray
  • Toothpicks or bamboo forks.

What you do:

  • Fill each ice cube compartment in the tray with one-third paint and the rest water.
  • Stir it up.
  • Let the tray freeze for about two hours
  • Stick the toothpicks in.
  • Let it freeze the rest of the way and you’re ready to paint!

We used paint with glitter and I thought the results were definitely museum-quality. Not that I’m biased. (I’m so totally biased.)

Ice Boats

This is the easiest sailing you’ll ever do…

What you need:

  • Small plastic containers
  • Supplies to make the sails (paper or fabric taped to toothpicks/bamboo forks, or even cocktail umbrellas)
  • Aluminum foil

What you do:

  • Fill your containers with water.
  • Put them in the freezer for about two hours and then poke in your sails.
  • Put them back in them back in the freezer until totally frozen.
  • Mold a strip of foil into the shape of a river and pour in some water. (You’ll probably want to do this outdoors as opposed to, say, on your living room rug.)
  • Remove your “boats” from the ice cube tray and you’re ready to play! Put the boats on your aluminum foil “river” and watch them float.

Beware that the smaller your freezing containers, the quicker the boats will melt during playtime. But no matter what, they will be so cool to watch!

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ABOUT elle

Elle started WUM after searching for how-to videos as a new mom and wanting more. A digital media veteran, she reconnected with Stanford classmate, Meg Resnikoff and the rest is (well-documented) history. In addition to directing videos for companies such as Motts, Disney, Kohler, Glad and frequently serving a YouTube brand panelist, Elle is extremely passionate about helping other moms share their well-earned expertise. Her favorite comment is “That’s my life too!” and is thankful for how WUM’s growing network of influencers have added to her own parenting experience. Elle’s daughter Presley (4), son Ford (2), and her (usually cooperative) husband Ross are often featured in her Tips and Day-In-Life vlogs.



  1. Such creative, entertaining ideas! A suggestion for the ice boats for our Californians…maybe just fill a small kiddie pool for them to sit in as well (2 for 1) and they can sail the boats in there…instead of having the hose on with free flowing water. Drought conscience is the way to go. Unfortunately still requires water but it's an idea. Stay cool everyone!

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