Dinosaurs, digging and tools are a few of my boys' favourite things. So, when they discovered how to create mini ice excavations to free frozen dinosaurs, it was NEXT LEVEL!
This STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and sensory play has since become the kids' favourite activity not only because it's fun and easy to do but it also helps them to focus on something engaging, quickly. There is nothing quite like hammering away at blocks of ice to unwind and release energy – for both kids and parents!
Now, we always keep an ice tray full of frozen creatures. Preferably, near the ice packs for injuries in our freezer. What is the method behind the madness? When the kids (or I) feel grumpy or get a bump, we quite literally break ice as an ‘ice-breaker’ and a distraction from the stinging pain of cold ice pack on owie!
In fact, experts advise the art of distraction is often effective to help calm kids down, especially when they are hurting or need to let go of tension. Now, even the kids' play-dates request this fun, easy and engaging activity when they come over. A win-win for everyone :) Learn how we do it, below.
WHAT WE USE:
Invite the kids to place a creature figure in each open space of the ice tray. Then, help them to pour water into each space and put the ice tray in the freezer. When the water has frozen, remove the ice tray from the freezer and extract the ice blocks onto a large surface (preferably on the ground, outside). Then, let the kids excavate away at the ice blocks with their toy tools to free the fossilized bugs or dinosaurs! Another option is to use water sprays to slowly melt the ice blocks. My kids also like to find different things to freeze to keep it interesting, such as tiny trinkets and water beads.
CONNECT & INSPIRE...
Not only is this activity an effective distraction and releases energy, it also develops skills such as:
Artist and Engineer, Leonardo Da Vinci once said, 'Learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else.' He demonstrated this by creatively combining and connecting science and art to make important discoveries.
Why does this matter? STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focused on science concepts. Kids who learn creative methods with STEAM (including Art within the acronym) make connections between concepts, learn to inquire and problem-solve in new and exciting ways.
Today, creative methods are acknowledged more than ever as vital for future-ready employees and as a life skill. One way I incorporate STEAM into play for my three kids is with marbles - encouraging creativity and challenging their engineering skills.
The kids and I were inspired to create our own version of Marble Runs and Trampolines from this post on Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls - thank you so much Mama Sarah for your amazing ideas that helped to grow my kids basic understanding of physics concepts.
WHAT WE USE:
Try dropping a marble on a balloon to see it bounce! Then get to work creating marble runs that include your trampolines! Our first track was simple, and we used wooden blocks to support the wooden bridge train tracks. We also used masking tape to attach the paper towel rolls to the blocks.
CONNECT & INSPIRE...
Not only is this a great collaborative and engineering activity, but a great way to learn physics concepts and observation skills for older kids. My sons enjoyed tackling the following challenges I gave them:
I would love to hear what you think in the comments section!
Go to Amazing Mazes, Painting with Marbles and Sensory Play with Light for some more creative STEAM activities.
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