Beat the Heat with Ice Activities for Preschoolers

Is it as hot and sweaty where you are as it is here? Whether it’s blazing hot or freezing cold, your kids will get a kick out of these exciting ways to play with ice in our list of ice activities for preschoolers (and beyond).

Mamas, it is too dang hot where we are and the kids and I are sweating it out. They’re saying it’s too hot to play outside, but we’re running out of activities to do here at home. It’s time to get creative.

As always, we set out to find some ways to entertain our kids. Bonus points if those ideas are low-cost, easy to prep, and use materials we have on hand.

Over the course of the summer, we have slowly but surely created a steady rotation of ice activities for kids. These activities will keep your kids cool, keep them engaged, and get them learning with tons of fun science, mathematics, and art applications.

If you’re looking for activities to do with kids when it’s hot outside, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our 7 favorite ways to play with ice.

Child hand with painted Ice; Text overlay: Easy ways for kids to play with ice.

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Painting Ice Activities for Preschoolers

Bizarrely enough, ice can make an incredible canvas for use with watercolor paint. Simply fill a bowl, tray, or water table (here’s our favorite) with ice cubes and set out watercolors. If needed, you can show kids how to get the paintbrush wet by dipping into the melted ice first. 

Water table with Ice and water color paints

Kids will love to see how the colors swirl and mix while the ice melts, and watercolor paints are super easy to use with the wet ice. It makes for a great way to introduce watercolors to kids without juggling bowls of water at the same time.

Want to change it up a bit? Freeze a larger ice “canvas” for your kids to paint. Fill up any bowl with an inch or two of ice and freeze.

Toddler with watercolor paints painting ice

This will give your kids a larger space to paint on, and can be less messy than dealing with a  bunch of small pieces of ice. Although, for what it’s worth, we definitely use this as an outside or in-the-tub activity.

Related Post: Kids Get Creative with Process Art for Toddlers

DIY Ice Paint

Need to use up some leftover paint? The tiny tubs of leftover paint that accumulate in my house make me INSANE. Whenever it’s time for us to buy a new set, we pour the remnants of the last set into an ice cube tray to make our own DIY ice paint.

Ice tray with frozen ice "paints"

Fill an ice cube tray about half way with washable paint. Fill the remaining half of each cavity with water and mix using a toothpick.

Ice tray with foil and popsicle sticks sticking out making DIY ice paint

Place a piece of tin foil over the entire tray, and push a popsicle stick into each cavity. (Learn from my mistake and break each popsicle stick in half first. It’ll make it easier to fit in your freezer, and for little hands to hold.

Ice tray with paint ice cubes frozen ready to go

Use the paint ice cubes on your driveway or sidewalk as you would with chalk. Rinse off as soon as you’re finished to avoid staining.

Ice Cube Color Mixing

Working on teaching your kids about colors? DIY colored ice cubes can go a long way in helping your littles learn about color mixing.

First, you’ll fill an old-school ice cube tray with water. Add a drop or two of food coloring to each section, and stir (or have your kids help stir for a little more hands-on learning). This is a great opportunity for them to learn a little more about primary and secondary colors, if you feel like taking it there.

Child smiling with ice tray full of water and food coloring

Once your colors are mixed well, put them in the freezer until solid, usually about an hour or two. (I ran out of blue, so we focused on yellow, red, and green. Let’s pretend it was on purpose, and not just because I used all the blue on Abe’s birthday cake.)

Ice tray full of red, orange, green and yellow food dye paint

While you’re killing time, consider reading a book about color mixing to help prep your kids for what they’ll see once their ice starts mixing. Our kids love the silly fun of “Mix it Up” by Herve Tullet (grab your copy now).
Book Title "Mix it Up" by Herve TulletOnce your ice cubes are ready, you can add them to your water table. Or do what we did, and put them in the bathtub with your kids. They loved how quickly the ice melted in the warm bath water, and they got a kick out of watching the colors swirl together.

Toddler foot and green Ice cube in bathwater

It’s one of the simplest ice activities for preschoolers- and with a LOT of bang for your buck!

Related Post: Make Bathtime More Fun with Clever Toys & Activities

Rescuing Frozen Toys

One of my favorite ways to fill a stuck-at-home day is by freezing some of my kids’ little figurines and action figures. This is the perfect way to get new life out of all those plastic toys you get at McDonald’s, or to use your child’s interests to get them interested in the scientific process.

Two children with baking trays rescuing frozen toys from ice

Set up is simple- place your child’s toy(s)  in a bowl or Tupperware container, and cover with water. Freeze until hardened. (Full disclosure-I usually leave them overnight for best results. As a result, I almost always have a frozen toy or two somewhere in my freezer. Weird, but USEFUL.)

I’ll wait until the kids are getting antsy, and then break out these frozen toys. I give them various tools (click here to read about the best STEM tools to use for this project), which helps make this activity a little different every time we try it.

Toddler pouring water from a measuring cup into a baking tray

Related Post: Keep Playdough Time Exciting with These Toddler Playdough Activities

Making Homemade Ice Cream with Preschoolers

Why not experiment with ice in the most delicious way possible- by making ice cream? Our kids LOVE the opportunity to help out in the kitchen– even more so if they are pitching in to make a dessert.

Child holding gallon back full of Ice and making ice cream

Using simple ingredients (and LOTS of ice), your kids can get hands on STEM experience while learning about temperature and matter changes. Click here for our ice cream in a bag recipe, a delicious ice activity for kids.

Child with spoon tasting homemade Ice cream!

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These ice activities for kids and toddlers are the perfect way to kill some time on a hot afternoon (or even a cold one). Who knew something as simple as ice could be so educational, huh?

Ice cube tray with "Ice paint" Blues, reds and yellows.; Text overlay: Easy Ice activities for toddlers

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