Arboretum News

Kids Activity: Sensory Ice

Cool off by freezing plants in ice.

COVID-19 Update: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is open in a limited capacity. Find updates and information here.

Photos by Reba Lukien

By Reba Luiken, Arboretum coordinator of informal interpretation

Materials Needed:
Ice cube trays, plastic container, ice cream pail 
Flowers, leaves, berries and other plant parts

1. Collect flowers, leaves, berries, and other plants parts to use.

2. Add plant parts to your ice container.

3. Add water. Plant parts float!

4. Freeze for 6+ hours depending on the size of your container.

5. Take your ice outside to play! It sometimes helps to run warm water over the outside of your container to free the ice. 

6. If you have large ice chunks, you can return them to the freezer (and even add more water to re-freeze) to play more later.

Photo by Reba Luiken.

Play ideas: 
– Feel the cool ice and the plant parts sticking out.
– Push the ice cubes to make patterns and water trails. Add a bit of food coloring before you freeze the water to add color.
– See if you can identify the plants inside. Does the ice make them appear different?
– Make some observations about what sizes or kinds of ice cubes melt fastest? What happens if you float them in water?

Make watery trails or patterns with your ice. Photo by Reba Luiken.

– Nearly all plant parts float, but freezing in layers helps spread the plants throughout the block of ice.
– You can also freeze plastic animals and other objects in the water.
– Older kids might enjoy trying to free an object trapped inside with some basic tools, like a screw driver or some salt. Of course, time and melting will work too!
-Want to learn more about creating with ice? Read about Ice Wrangler Jennifer Shea Hedberg, and pick up her book, Ice Luminary Magic: The Ice Wrangler’s Guide to Making Illuminated Ice Creations.”

Find more kids activities to do at home or at the Arboretum!

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