Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Episode Six: Ice Excavation

This idea is a bit of a favourite around our ways and for good reason. It combines one of my favourite materials to work with (ice) and the adventure of discovery.

For this idea you will need a freezable container (ice cream containers work best), some sort of child-friendly hammer, some treasure and water.

Get your children to choose out their treasure. In this instance, my middle boy was helping me so he chose two jewels for himself and two for his older brother. We put the treasure in the bottom of the container, filled it up with water and stuck it in the freezer. In about three hours you should have a solid block of ice ready to be hacked away at.

Just a few notes from experience: As you can see in our photos we had no foot or eye protection. This is up to you. In hindsight, when giving my children hammers to swing around a pair of covered shoes would probably be a good idea. Also, with all that ice being struck with the hammer, eye protection might be a good idea - even a pair of sunglasses would do the trick.

The boys had great fun smashing the ice with the hammer. Both the older and middle boy enjoyed the destruction of it all - the treasure was definitely an after thought. They were having so much fun that my baby daughter came out to see what all the fuss was about.

This is a simple, simple idea but hopefully your children will get a lot of joy out of it, as will you. Have a go chipping away at the ice with a screwdriver (or chisel) and a hammer yourself - there's something pretty satisfying about banging away at a piece of ice, flecks spraying everywhere and getting your hands wet. It's the ultimate tactile activity but there's no mess and all of the remains will melt in the sun after a few hours.

My children enjoyed this idea so much that they were still going long after I went inside to get lunch ready. Not only that, they raced back inside to choose new treasure, fill up the containers again and put them in the freezer.That is a huge sign of success in my book.

Have fun!


  1. we did this once with some plastic animals and most of their legs ended up cracking off due to a combination of being frozen and hacked at!! /fail.

    1. Hmm. That's quite good to know because before the gemstones I was going to use some plastic animals and army men. Interesting. Thanks for reading!