Thursday, 11 February 2016

Playing with ice

February is living up to being the hottest month of the year in Perth. Inspired by this video, we've been doing ice activities. We've had a lot of fun and it's kept us cool but I can't say things have gone as smoothly as the lady in the video suggests. 

We started with ice boats. I used a selection of different sized plastic containers to freeze water in for the hull. The sails were just popsticks with a felt triangle glued on. 

First learning. Manage expectations. It's a bit mean to tell a 3yo we're making boats, sit down and make the sails together and then not actually be able to play with the boats until the next day. It takes a while for large amounts of water to freeze and I think she asked me approximately 53 times if the boats were ready yet. 

Second learning. In our freezer, 2.5 hours was the magic point when the water was icy enough to stick the popsticks in without them falling over but not so solid that I couldn't stick them in. Having said that, we checked about a million times so it probably wouldn't have taken quite so long if we didn't keep opening the freezer.

Third learning. Use better glue. Most of the sails came away from the popsticks within minutes of getting wet.

Finally it was time to play with the boats. Miss 3 and I were excited. Boys couldn't really have cared less. This is the bit that didn't go so smoothly. I think the problem was that the chunks of ice were too heavy but it we'd made them any smaller they would have melted too fast so I don't know what the solution isWe tried a few different 'rivers'. Firstly, a strip of foil just on a slope on the lawn.

The boats were too heavy and they just got stuck. Next, the foil down a slide. 

Too steep, they tumbled rather than sailed. Third, a shorter slope just into a container of water.
Still not a lot of gentle sailing down the river but the boys enjoyed just watching them float around in the body of water at the bottom so that was a win for them.

Miss 3 wasn't so convinced. She wanted a bit more action but by this point the ice had almost all melted. We ended up writing our names on the popsticks and just racing those down a piece of old pipe. This was a total success from Miss 3's point of view and way less preparation involved than making the ice boats. 


Conclusion. Would I play with boats again? Definitely. Would I bother to make them out of ice? Probably not. 

Next on our ice adventure was ice paints. I'd learned to set expectations this time so we made them one day and knowingly played with them the next. I just used a usual ice tray, one third paint, two thirds water and then mixed them with a popstick.

First learning. Leave a gap between colours on the ice tray. Between the stirring and moving them to the freezer there was a bit of spillage between colours. This wouldn't have been an issue if I'd just separated them out more.

Thanks to activity one, I knew to just set a timer for 2.5 hours and then easily put the popstick handles in. Now that I knew what I was doing, the preparation for this one was really quite easy. 

The best news is that the painting was pretty successful too. In fact, I'm going to say this is the best way I've found for the twins to paint. At first, not a lot of paint came off on to the paper but it didn't take long for the ice to melt and then it started to get easy. Both boys as well as Miss 3 had a good go at it. 

It got increasingly messy as the ice melted and eventually ended up as finger painting but it was actually pretty cool that the consistency kept changing because it kept things interesting. 

Conclusion. Ice painting is a winner for little tackers. We'll definitely be doing it again.

The next activity was ice animal rescue. For this one, I didn't even try to get the boys involved. I just don't think they would have the attention span. Miss 3 did pretty well with it. I'm going to say it took about an hour to rescue all the animals but I'm not sure she would have stuck with it if she didn't have adult encouragement.

The preparation for this one was a bit of a pain in the neck. To make sure the animals aren't all bunched together you have to do it in layers. I kept forgetting to add layers so it ended up taking quite a few days for me to get this organised. Fortunately I hadn't told Miss 3 about it so it was just a nice surprise for her when I got it out of the freezer one afternoon.

The great thing about this activity is there are quite a few different methods to approach the task. Miss 3 started with her tools. 

She quite quickly decided that her tools weren't good enough and demanded a tool quality upgrade. This is when the supervision stepped up.

Next she tried salt which she quite liked putting on but I don't think she particularly noticed the effect it was having. 

Water was a good one. At first just pouring water over the large ice block and then after it was broken up a bit she would leave it in a bowl of water.

Once it was broken up and not too heavy, throwing chunks of ice on to the bricks was also pretty fun. Though, unfortunately this did result in a bit of damage to one of the toys. Eventually all the animals were rescued.

Conclusion. Success. Will do this one again too.

There were a few chunks of leftover ice so Ed and Miss 3 did some experiments together. They coloured the ice and then used salt and sugar to see how it affected the melting. It was super pretty and kind of interesting but not interesting enough to hold a 3 year old's attention for long.

Conclusion. Very little effort involved in the preparation. Won't rush to do it again but if we ever have leftover chunks of ice, may as well give it another go.

Overall conclusion on playing with ice. Very positive. Will definitely try some of these again and keep an eye out for new ideas too.

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