Ice Excavation

Ice Excavation

A great way to engage your child in a physically challenging activity is to create blocks of ice containing interesting objects. Your budding scientist can then chip away to uncover the treasure within.

Things you will need

  • A plastic container 
  • Water
  • Interesting objects from around your home like flowers, bark, plastic animals
  • Low-sided plastic bucket or roasting dish
  • A light hammer or meat tenderiser
  • A metal spoon 
  • Safety or swimming goggle

How to do it

Ask your child to help you fill the plastic container with water. Look around the house with your child for interesting toys and other objects. Add them to the container of water and place in the freezer to freeze overnight. When the ice is frozen, run a little hot water around the bottom of the container so the ice slides out. Put the block of ice in the bucket or roasting dish. Using the hammer or meat tenderiser, demonstrate chipping away at the ice in order to access the treasure. Spoons can be used to assist with digging and scraping away ice. Alternatively, put your block of ice in an open container and leave to melt over the day. There are wonderful opportunities to talk with your child as the ice slowly melts away and the objects are revealed

What Learning is Occurring

  • Fine motor skills – when your child grips the hammer/meat tenderiser
  • Hand–eye coordination – as your child connects with the object
  • Language skills – talk about what you did to make the water freeze and what is happening to the ice as it is hammered and gets warmer. Use words such as cold, melting, frozen, solid and liquid
  • Science concepts – when water freezes it becomes solid (ice), when ice melts it becomes a liquid


This activity needs to be supervised by an adult
Repeat activity using new ideas from your child about what they would like to embed in the ice

Learn more about Water Play with BestStart's 16 Areas of Play: