- Ice cube trays
- Gallon-size resealable plastic bags
- Food coloring in 2 colors, including green or blue
- Water table or water basins
- Toy animals such as whales, seals, penguins, and polar bear
Objectives: Children will have fun playing with ice and toy animals in water.
In Advance: Fill the ice cube trays and several plastic bags with water. Mix in the food coloring and place in a freezer.
On a hot day, read a book (such as one of those listed below) about cold weather areas. 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?
Bring the water table outside, and explain that you will create a cold-weather scene in it. Help children add blue or green food coloring to create a sea. Put in 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.
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? What kind of food do you think the bears might search for?"
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?
For younger children: Allow children to experiment with a variety of colors of food coloring in the water table by squeezing drops into the water and spreading with tongue depressors.
For older children: Place ice cubes in various areas of your outdoor play space, including both sunny and shady areas. Help children make a chart to record "melt times." Encourage children to draw their own conclusions when they've finished their ice cube experiments.
OBSERVATIONS Do children represent the scene accurately, based on their knowledge of cold-weather climates? Are some children more interested in fantasy play? Are children identifying the different animals and using new words as part of their "cold weather" play?
SPIN OFF Fill a sandbox or water basins with soil. Encourage children to create a mountain scene using toys and natural items. Invite children to consider the different types of animals and vegetation that might be found in this new environment.
Nanook's Gift by Michio Hoshimo
Seal Pup Grows Up by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Whales (A First Discovery Book) by Laura Bour