Go on an Ice Cube Treasure Hunt

ice cube tray

Outdoor treasure hunts shouldn’t be limited to spring and summer. Bundle up and head outside for some icy fun!

What You Need

  • Food coloring
  • Ice cube trays
  • Plastic bags
  • An assortment of plastic containers

What You Do

  1. Fill Containers with Water and Freeze
    The night before your hunt, ask your children to help you fill the containers (gelatin molds or tube pans, cups, plastic storage containers, sand pails, bowls, etc.) with water. Add enough food coloring to each container to dye the water. Tint the water for the ice cube trays before filling. If it’s cold enough outside, take them outside and let them freeze overnight. Otherwise put them in your freezer.ice cube tray
  2. Hide the Ice
    To get the ice out of your frozen containers, place them in hot water for a moment or let them thaw until there’s a little water on top. Go outside and hide the frozen shapes for your child to find. Suggestions include peeking out of snow banks, perched on low branches, glistening in flowerpots, etc.
  3. Go on a Hunt
    Armed with a plastic bag, invite your child to a treasure hunt. Try to remember where you hid the different pieces of ice so you can encourage your child to find them all.
  4. Make Ice Sculptures
    The fun isn’t done once your child finds all the ice blocks. Encourage your child to use them to build ice sculptures. If the ice shapes don’t stick to each other, snow can help “glue” them together.
  5. Talk About Ice
    • Cool considerations. Explain to your child that ice is the solid form of water, which is liquid at room temperature. Help your child think about these states of matter by asking the following questions: What’s the difference between ice and water? How does water become ice? Is there anything you can do to speed up this process? How does ice turn into water? How can we speed up this change? Or slow it down? What are some situations where you see water turn from liquid to solid? (forming icicles, pond freezing over, frost on windows) From solid to liquid? (melting icicles, sucking on a popsicle)
    • More about states of matter. What things, besides water, can your child name that can change from liquid to solid? (eggs, cake batter) How about from solid to liquid? (soap, ice cream)