Sensory experiences are an important component of early childhood learning. Children love hands-on activities that allow them to explore with their senses. Adults, however, are often reluctant to let kids paint, glue, or play with ice simply because of the mess. When the weather gets hot, outdoor exploration with melting ice is one way to avoid those indoor messes while giving kids the sensory experiences they need! The Ocean Animals Preschool Ice Excavation Activity builds fine motor muscles as kids chip away and learn about all kinds of sea creatures.
Recommended Grade Level:
Ocean Animals Ice Rescue Supplies:
- Ice tray
- Ocean Animal toys
- Stones or toy hammer
- Optional: poster board or mat for outdoor use
Sensory Learning in Preschool and Kindergarten
ICE ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOL
FREEZING TOY ANIMALS IN ICE PROVIDES A TON OF ENTERTAINMENT WHILE CONTRIBUTING TO IMPORTANT LEARNING MILESTONES.
This ocean themed activity is a great science experiment in itself. Children can experience first-hand the transformation of a block of ice kept out of the freezer.
Ice excavation for kids gives them a chance to grasp and hit using small hand muscles. Once they find the toys in the ice, the activity switches gears to naming the ocean creatures, describing them, comparing and contrasting them, or just playing with them!
Freezing toys in ice activities really can become an opportunity to engage students before, during, or after learning about a particular topic. Or it can just be an exciting way to pass the time chipping away at a block of ice.
I love to use ice melting activities for preschool in the spring when the weather gets nice and students get anxious for summer break. If I can, I take the activity outside to the playground. If that’s not an option, I turn the sensory water table into a frozen tundra.
In addition to learning about sea turtles, whales, sharks, dolphins and more, this preschool activity can get kids thinking about:
- What causes the ice to melt?
- How does the ice change form/shape as it melts?
- Would it melt slower/faster in the shade/sun?
- What would help the ice melt faster?
What Can Children Learn From Preschool Ocean Animal Activities?
OCEAN ANIMALS ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOL
FREEZING TOYS IN ICE CUBES IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ABOUT A VARIETY OF LIFE ON EARTH.
As children explore in the ice and discover all of the animals, they can work on important vocabulary:
- Animal names (babies vs. adult names)
- Life Cycles
Why Are Preschool Ice Activities Important?
Activities with ice for preschoolers stimulate their interest while improving fine motor and teaching concepts at the same time. What a versatile activity!
Objects relating to any topic, from animals to flowers to body systems, can be frozen and excavated. This provides a healthy chunk of background knowledge and experiences the kids can draw from.
Fine Motor Skills
Chipping away at an ice block, pushing and pulling to get objects out, and using a spray bottle help build up the muscles in children’s hands that they will use later for handwriting and more.
Interesting hands-on activities are a great way to get kids talking! They will learn new vocabulary related to ice, melting, or ocean animals, that they can then put into informal conversations as they work.
Faced with a block of ice and a favorite toy buried deep inside, kids will come up with some pretty creative ways to get them out! What a fun way to encourage problem-solving and creativity.
How To Make The Ocean Animal Ice Excavation
How to Freeze the Ocean Animals
- Ice tray
- Ocean animal toys
- Stones or toy hammer
Optional: Poster board or mat for outdoor use. If desired, fill a spray bottle with warm water and food coloring to aid in the melting process.
Place one ocean animal in each section of the ice tray. If desired, allow for part of the animal (example: the tail) to stick out a bit so young fingers can easily grasp something while trying to excavate it.
Fill the ice tray with water.
Place in the freezer until frozen.
Remove from the freezer.
Place the frozen sea animal ice cubes into a bin. Allow the child to engage with the ice, using stones or toy hammers/objects to try to break the ice away from each ocean animal.
Our Favorite Ocean Books for Kids:
We can’t live without these!
Once your child’s creativity is sparked with this fun ocean activity, take it a step further with these engaging resources:
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Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist (Women in Science Books, Marine Biology for Kids, Shark Gifts)Where the Ocean Meets the SandInky the Octopus: The Official Story of One Brave Octopus’ Daring Escape (Includes Marine Biology Facts for Fun Early Learning!)Hello, World! Ocean LifeOcean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest SecretSwimmyHow to Catch a MermaidThe Pout-Pout Fish (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure Book 1)Moonlight Ocean (Lightbeam Books)
Another fun activity involving ice is ice painting. Make frozen colored cubes with an ice cube tray and food coloring, then head outside to draw and color on paper.
Once the ocean animals have been released from the ice, place them in a sensory bin and encourage kids to role play different scenarios of animals meeting, playing, sharing, etc.
Ocean animals could be sorted after they have been excavated. Children can sort by color, size, shape, or any other animal characteristic.