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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Water ... Ice ... Food Coloring ... Entertainment

One afternoon this week I ran into one of those "we have nothing planned and we need an activity or there's going to be a very energetic mutiny and I'm outnumbered" moments.  One thing I've learned over the years is that busy children are much happier children ... less crying, less arguing, less overly energetic behavior, etc. ... one of the reasons I try to find a good balance between free play (which they also really need) and planned activities (and TRY to have activities planned ahead of time, though, as is evidenced by this last minute activity, I don't always succeed!).

Seemed like an ideal time for water play, which we haven't done enough of lately.

And then it seemed like an ideal time for water and ice play, because we're in Florida and it's still in the high 80's.  I'd just seen something similar on a blog and decided to do my own version of their idea, taking into consideration the materials I had on hand and the ages of the kids (18-26 months).. I knew straight ice would be way too cold, and I didn't want to risk frostbite on little fingers belonging to very engaged little ones, so an ice and water mix seemed to be the way to go.

After remembering that our water/sand table is now a pasta table (best use I could find for whole grain pasta ... no one here will eat it, but it's great for playing with) I opted to use two casserole pans. When filling them with water I added red coloring to one pan and yellow to the other, so we could see how they mixed and also to gave the white ice cubes a chance to be seen much better. I used maybe 10 drops of food coloring in each pan, enough to color the water but not enough to color their clothing.

For toys I initially gave the kids things with handles, so their fingers wouldn't get too cold. Once the ice started melting and I checked their hands, finding none of them were very cold at all, I tossed in all their water/pasta toys.

One little one found that the best thing ever was to fill a bucket with water, stand up, and dump the water back in, over and over and over and over. She did that, and giggled, for at least 20 minutes straight.

Another child thought the best thing to do was to toss the water all over the lanai. Unfortunately, that makes the tile slippery so her idea was nipped in the bud fairly quickly.  She was quite content to spoon ice and water from one pan to the other.

The little ones couldn't have cared less about the colors of the water. But the ice was a huge hit.

We talked about cold and wet, how the ice felt, and why it was melting.

All in all, the activity lasted about 30 minutes before they started drifting off to play ball or slide on the slides.

They asked to do it again today but I'd forgotten to set the ice maker to make ice so we had none.  They were good with straight water, but I was asked (or maybe it was reminded?) more than once why there was no ice in the pans.

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