Arctic Fun in the Sun
Chill out on a hot day with this outdoor activity.
- Grades: PreK–K
Children develop language and social skills as they have fun playing with ice and toy animals in water.
- Ice-cube trays
- Gallon-size resealable plastic bags
- Food coloring in two colors, including green or blue
- Water table or water basins
- Plastic toy animals, such as whales, seals, penguins, and polar bears
1. Fill the ice cube trays and several plastic bags with water. Add the food coloring (save the green or blue coloring for the activity), mix, and place in a freezer.
2. On a hot day, read a book about cold weather (see "Related Books" below for ideas). Ask children to close their eyes and imagine being in a cold place, perhaps with a cool wind, ice, and snow. Then talk about the experience. Does it help children feel cooler?
Step 1: Bring the water table outside and explain that you will create a cold-weather scene in it. Fill the table with water and help children add blue or green food coloring to create a sea. Add the ice from the ice cube trays and plastic bags. Talk about the kinds of animals that live in cold weather. Show children your assortment of animal toys, and let them select items to play with.
Step 2: Notice how children use the various materials. From time to time, ask questions or make comments to help extend their play. For example, you might say, "Jake, I see you have some polar bears on the ice block. Is that their house? What are they going to do in it?"
Step 3: At the same time, draw attention to the science aspects of the activity. What happens to the ice as it melts? Does the water change color?
Step 4: Later, talk with children about the kinds of changes they make to accommodate warm or cold weather. How is their clothing different? What activities do they do in each type of weather? How do they stay cool in warm weather? Warm in cold weather?
For younger children: Play animal-environment match-up. Set a tray of ice on one side of the table and a paper cut-out of the sun on the other. Provide a collection of plastic animals that live in different environments. Help children arrange them on the table so that the cold-weather animals are beside the ice block, and the warm-weather animals are near the sun.
For older children: Further investigate animals that live in cold environments. How do they hunt for food? Where do they sleep? How do they protect their young?
Fill a sandbox or basin with soil. Encourage children to create a mountain scene using toys and natural items.