Trapped in the Ice Sensory Play

The car trapped in ice but partially free with a chunk of chiselled off ice sat beside it.
J has always been resistant to playing with ice in the past – he is adverse to temperature extremes. However, in our recent heat wave he has been asking for ice in his water and so I thought we would try some ice play. Since J is a huge car fan, I thought I would trap a car in the ice to encourage him to play with the ice to free the car.


Firstly, I popped the car into a balloon and tried to fill it with water. This didn’t work. The water just spilled out, so I blew the balloon up and tried again and this time it filled up with water much to J’s fascination. Once I had tied a knot in the balloon, I let J hold it. He was fascinated that the water had made the balloon so heavy compared to when it was filled with air. The water also moves around inside the balloon and J compared it to holding jelly. J was almost hypnotised while holding it as he found the sensation quite different to anything else.


J captivated by the feel of water inside the balloon. He is holding the balloon really carefully.


We popped the balloon into the freezer and J stood staring at the door until I convinced him (with several checks) that the water would take awhile to freeze. We checked the balloon before he went to bed (about 6 hours after we put it in the freezer) and it had partially frozen, which J again found fascinating to touch despite the cold.


The following day, the balloon was fully frozen so we peeled the balloon off the ice and popped it into a jug to carry to the tuff tray without getting cold hands. J dropped the ice into the tuff tray from standing which broke a chunk of ice off immediately. This hadn’t been the plan but actually it probably made it easier as he was able to use his wooden screwdriver and hammer to chip away at the ice and break off additional shards much to his delight.


Ice Play - J in his yellow builder's hat using a wooden hammer and screwdriver to chisel the ice to free the car.


However, the process wasn’t as instataneous as J would have liked and the slippery ice made it hard as he was absolutely not prepared to touch the ice with his hands. We had a break from freeing the car by pouring salt onto the broken ice to watch how it increased the melting speed. J found this very intriguing and asked lots of questions. I then had a play with the ice while J watched and between us we managed to free about half of the car.


The car trapped in ice but partially free with a chunk of chiselled off ice sat beside it.


By this point J needed a change in tactics, so we carried the trapped car into the sink and I poured boiling water onto the ice while J watched. “It’s melting!” He cried with excitement as the car became free. J then enjoyed pouring warm tap water onto the remaining ice until it had all melted and run down the plug hole. Once all the ice had melted J decided that he wanted to wash the car in some warm water to help warm the car up again!


J during warm water from a plastic jug over the ice to watch it melt. The free car is sat in the sink next to the ice.


This was a great sensory play experience for J as he did touch the ice a couple of times which is a huge step forward from last summer when he wouldn’t even contemplate the ice being near him. It is also great for children to learn about freezing and melting to help them better understand the world around them. We will definitely try some ice play again while we are still in this heatwave. I think that making the amount of water, and therefore ice, less would have been better for J as he found it tedious after awhile.


If you have enjoyed reading about ice play I’d love you to comment below or to pin this image so other people can enjoy ice play too. Thanks!

Trapped in the Ice Sensory Play

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  1. I had similar battles with Max over temperatures, but he’s now quite keen on playing with things like this. I froze lots of his little dinosaurs in the ice a while back and he loved chipping them out (although like you I did have to get the hot water out in the end as his interest waned!) Such a great educational activity, especially for kids who like to know about how things work.

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