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9 easy Christmas ice play ideas.

I have not experienced a white Christmas and as a sun lover I do not feel I need to BUT water and ice for a summer Christmas are a MUST!

Water is an open ended natural material that can soothe or excite children and in its frozen form offers this and MORE in sensory play as you will see. In the lead up to Christmas the outdoor temperatures in New Zealand often increase and the number of children that get involved in water play does too. This is a wonderful chance to support relationships and connect with each other which is the essence of the Christmas season.

With this all in mind I gathered my Christmas boxes filled with treasures and thought about how they could be used with frozen water. In the past I had simply added them to unfrozen water with cups, containers and jugs with great success and would do this again (in fact these activities would end up being this too).

I am also a big fan of ice shapes for Christmas to paint and melt. I pick them up at second hand shops or buy them new and they are metal or silicone, you will often find: gingerbread people, star, bell, pine tree and elf hat shapes.

Gingerbread people.

I use these all year round as the Gingerbread Man is always a popular book and story. I simply add water colour paints. You could also freeze coloured water with or without pompoms and add baking trays, plates and aprons..

Large star, bell and tree

I had also frozen water in silicone Christmas tree, star and bell shapes and again adding water colour paints and brushes. This year I added herbs and coloured salt. This year came across smaller versions at Kmart and decided to buy them.

Small tree and elf hat

I picked up this silicone set at Kmart for $9 and have used it in 3 ways so far.

1. ice painting with water colours

2. sensory play with pompoms inside

3. adding string & freezing for tree decorations

4. adding coloured salt

Fake snow

This is so easy! Just add cornflour (5) to your ice and you have fake snow!

It feels soft to touch and protects little fingers and hands which is a BONUS if you are in the Northern hemisphere. Our snow melted quickly in the heat and would look like snow longer in colder conditions. What is even BETTER is that it transforms into gloop or obleck for more sensory play. To get more from this already wonderful resource just freeze the mix and use again (6)!

Adding some Northern hemisphere books alongside this activity would extend it. You could also add arctic figures.

Reindeer and snow people.

Freeze water into shapes that are reindeer (7) (add wooden antlers, we used twigs) or snow ball like a snow man or woman (8) and decorate with coloured paper and ribbon. A great addition to the fake snow tray.

Christmas cake

Making cakes had been very popular in the sandpit and I decided to grab the bunting cake tins (9) and add Christmas decorations to water and freeze them. I used older second hand ones as I was not sure of the freezing would damage them (it didn’t).

The children and I were intrigued with how they froze and the patterns in the ice that were formed.

I did this activity again and again and the children as the children were fascinated about how long they took to melt (or quickly) and used small trays and a tuff tray.

No shapes no worries.

Simply use ice cubes. I am a fan of large ice cubes as you can fit herbs and small figures in them (again from Kmart). I use these alongside books (BONUS 10) like The 12 days of Christmas, The Crayons Christmas and Christmas Countdown. I also added some frozen numbers (plastic sand toys) as it was possible to freeze lots of ice cubes.


When the ice melts you then have water play. You can add new resources or enjoy the ones you have.

Resources to add.

  • We also added coloured salt to decorate them and speed up the melting.

  • Paint water colour or acrylic in the water before freezing.

  • Food colouring an option but one I really use as LOVE water and ice in its natural state.

  • Cornflour for fake snow.

  • Trays, gravy boats, funnels, scoops, sieves, bowls, cups, spoons, mixing beaters. These could be plastic or metal or a combination of both.

  • Numbers or letters.

  • Herbs with ice and water.

  • Books (in a ziplock bag to avoid damage)

Until next time.


P.S. there are some affliate links and if you use them I may get some moolah.

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