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  • Writer's pictureTeam Backcountry

Project Winter: Ice Art

Check out the first of five winter outdoor projects to try in the colder weather!

We know, we know, it's cold. But along with the cold, winter brings a whole new array of sights, scents, sounds, tastes, and textures. Children are naturally curious, and time spent outside provides ample opportunities for adventure, discovery, experimenting, and problem-solving. From the satisfying sound of leaves and frost crunching under their feet, to investigating a single snowflake, to experiencing the fastest sledding hill in the neighborhood, your child can kick the restlessness of cabin fever, and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of the outdoors, even in winter. Need some inspiration to get outside?! Ice Art is the first of five winter activities to help you take a break from screens, get some exercise, and take some time to soak in the wonders of winter.


· Metal cake pans or deep baking dishes

· Basket, bag, or bowl to collect materials

· String, yarn, or twine

· Freezing weather (or your freezer!)

What you do

1. Go on a Nature Hike Get a basket, bag, or bowl, and go on a hike or a walk around the neighborhood to gather natural materials. Try to find ones with a bit of color or an interesting shape!

2. Create your Masterpiece Lay the gathered materials in a cake pan, in your desired layout or design (keep in mind, the water will move things around a bit).

3. Set the String Set the string or yarn into the dish. It works best if you tie it around something bigger, like a rock, seashell, or washer so that it doesn’t float in the water.

4. Pour the water Pour about an inch of water into the cake pan.

5. Freeze, Hang, and Enjoy! Let the art sit outside on a freezing night (or if it won’t get down to freezing, place in your freezer overnight), carefully remove in the morning, and display! You will see it start to melt as the temperature increases, giving you a beautiful homemade thermometer.

6. PRO TIP: Make it Science! Before pouring the water in, ask your child which items they think will sink or float. Once you set it outside, ask your child how long they think it will take for it to freeze (making predictions). Will it freeze more quickly in the shade or in the sun? Make two so that you can compare!


Tara is an Environmental Education Coordinator with the Backcountry Wilderness Area. She was born and raised in both North Carolina and Colorado (#halfnative) where she spent a lot of her childhood outside, and now as an “adult” she strives to provide opportunities for today’s kids to do the same!  When she’s not finding new adventures and trails to explore with her husband, little one, and friends, she’s probably taking pictures of her cat, (Chicken) Nugget Warrior Princess.  

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