Buried in Ice – Sensational Sensory Fun for the Littles

Searching the net trying to find more things I could do with all our plastic Easter eggs, I fell upon the idea of filling the eggs with water, dropping in small objects, and then freezing overnight.  It looked like fun and easy enough for me to fit in before I crawled into bed last night.

One problem.

Apparently those directions were given before the manufacturers started putting holes in the bottom of the plastic eggs, presumable to allow air flow even if it got lodged in the back of a child’s mouth.  (If there’s another explanation for those annoying little holes, would someone PLEASE tell me?)

What to do?

For some reason, I just couldn’t let this idea die.  So I switched out of the plastic egg mode and into the how-can-I-pull-this-off mode.   This may look time-consuming but I promise it’s not.  It probably took 5 minutes of prep work and then 5 minutes of clean up after the children were finished playing (if you don’t count the additional 5 minutes it took to retrieve everything after my children tossed it over the side of the deck while I was trying to sneak in some spelling tests for the bigger kids).

This turned out to be a big hit for Noah (5 with Down syndrome), Bella 3, Seth 2 and Eden (7).  They played with this for a good 30 minutes without supervision after I was finished with the lesson portion.  I think even Andres (8) snuck into this for a while.

Activity:  Ice Play


  1. 1 plastic egg carton
  2. 12 3 oz paper cups (bathroom size)
  3. food coloring
  4. 12 small objects that will fit into the paper cups (plastic animals, jingle bells, buttons, manipulatives, Legos, coins, etc.)
  5. water
  6. salt in salt shaker
  7. Large spoon and salad tongs.


  1. Place empty cups into egg carton, one cup to one section.  (This will act as a convenient tray when it’s time to move the cups into the freezer.
  2. Pour water into the cups, leaving plenty of room at the top.
  3. Add food coloring into each cup, the more color the better, and mixing colors is fine.  Stir.
  4. Add one object to each cup.  Don’t worry if your object floats a little. 
  5. Place carton with cups into the freezer to freeze overnight.

Time to Play:

  1. Remove egg carton from the freezer.
  2. Peel away the paper cups from the ice blocks and place ice blocks into roasting pan.  (The bottom of the cup will probably stick to the ice.  This will not interfere with play..)
  3. Add in large spoon and ice tongs and a salt shaker filled with salt (all the salt will probably get wet in the process).
  4. Along with the original egg carton, bring the roasting pan and salt to your child’s work area (outside is great, especially if it is warm).
  5. Vocabulary Allow your child to explore the ice blocks.  Have him identify what is in each one.  Review colors using the colored ice.   Let him feel the ice and talk about the ice being cold.  As the activity progresses, talk about how the ice is melting.  Once water starts to appear, talk about water and how water is wet.
  6. Fine Motor Skills – Have your child use the tongs to move each ice block into a section in the egg carton.  Then have him return the ice to the roasting pan.  (If he has had enough of the tongs, allow him to just use his hands.
  7. Sensory Experiences – Make sure your child feels the coldness of the ice in his hands.  Allow him to taste the salt once he has poured it.  Let him feel the salty slush and explore its rough texture.  Other sensory opportunities include seeing the colors; feeling the wetness of the water;  and feeling the hardness, smoothness and coldness of the ice.
  8. Show your child how to shake the salt.  Explore how the salt changes the texture of the ice and how it is helping melt the ice.
  9. Allow for additional free play.

5 thoughts on “Buried in Ice – Sensational Sensory Fun for the Littles”

  1. There’s the love of color again, the more the better. I have a set of paste food coloring dyes I’ll try to remember to bring up next time. The colors are intense, work very well in cake decoration. Hope they’re still usable. I had them when I was at the townhouse, but they’re still a soft paste.

    How about sugar eggs? Bet the kids would have fun with that. You open the plastic eggs, fill each half with a sugar concoction, then “set” them (I’ll see if I can find directions). Then remove them from the form, use icing to glue the halves together, then pipe with icing to your heart’s content. http://www.kids-cooking-activities.com/sugar-eggs.html

    These instructions are for hollow eggs. I used the small eggs and made them solid, didn’t have the patience to fool with creating the items inside the hollow eggs, though you might. The paste food dye is perfect for this because the colors are intense.

    Let me know what you think…xxoo

    1. That looks way fun!!! I have the paste food coloring. I wonder if you can use it in water. I guess it would dissolve. Maybe sugar eggs next time you come? I doubt I’ll get to it by Sunday. Thanks for the link.


    1. Oh goodie!!! I need someone to collaborate with on hot cold ideas – Noah gets it but we need to expand his understanding to all the things that can be either hot or cold.

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