The ice sensory bin is one of the simplest toddler activities loaded with all the best parts of child’s play. Building this outdoor activity takes just minutes, but the play it creates lasts much longer. It’s an absolute perfect toddler activity that you’ll be remaking on repeat all summer.
It’s true: maybe this activity isn’t going to win an awards, but this ice sensory bin won a lot in my book for the amount of independent quiet time my toddler spent totally engaged.
I went from being a frustrated parent with a clinging toddler to drinking warm (almost hot) coffee in peace. All thanks to a storage container and the ice from my freezer. That’s a solid win – and I didn’t need any help from a screen.
RELATED: Looking for more outdoor activities? I have a whole list of them.
The supply list
Just like all my favorite toddler activities, this icy activity is easy to put together.
Great toddler activities don’t need to be super fancy. Sometimes, they just need to be ice and water and the toddler will handle the rest.
And this activity is exactly that.
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How to set-up an ice sensory bin
I took our under the bed storage tub and dumped the entire ice maker into it.
I wanted my toddler (25 months old) to be able to play with the ice, listen to the sound as it clinks together, and experience the cold of it.
I also added just a smidge of water so everything would be floating and there would be an option to separate ice from water. Oh, Oh! and some food coloring (that’s optional but it makes it so fancy and fun).
RELATED: What are the best outdoor toys for kids? See my list of backyard favorites for ages 1-12.
How to play with an ice sensory bin
I gave my toddler slotted spoons, ladles, our favorite tiny colanders and off he went.
He had more fun straining the ice cubes than anything else. There’s something magical in separating the water from the ice that seems to capture his attention.
He transferred the ice cubes, scooped them, and stirred his soup. He had a ball imagining and creating a little icy world.
What are toddlers learning here?
There’s actually a lot of learning going on in this ice sensory activity.
Here’s everything a toddler is learning:
- Pouring skills
- Transferring skills
- Science skills (understanding ice and the relationship to water)
- Sensory skills (this is tactile experience for him)
This activity is so much more than just a child playing with ice. There is a massive amount of skill building taking place – which is typical for a child playing independently.
This became a two-for-one activity – don’t miss this tip
By lunch time, this activity had melted. No surprise their.
But that meant that after nap time, the ice sensory had become a water bin and my toddler loved it. Well, he loved the play and I loved the sitting to watch him play.
I swapped out the colanders for some measuring cups and boom – it was had a pouring station. Now that’s the kind of activity I am here for.
Making an ice sensory bin is perfect for toddlers!
An ice bin is a terrific activity – it’s just so quick, easy, and man does it hold their attention span.
This activity is magic. Something about the ice really captures my toddler’s attention. I hope it does the same for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
With an ice cube, parents can introduce vocabulary terms like “cold,” “slipper,” and “wet”. The cause and effect of frozen ice cubes against a hot sun also provides toddlers with a science experiment. Additional language on “solid” and “liquid” can also be used.
Ice is a choking hazard. Please use significant supervision with toddlers and ice cubes. This may not be the right activity for your child if they are still putting ice into their mouths.