Welcome to the Ice Bin Transfer aka the sensory activity that helped me make it to nap time. With just ice cubes, water, and some bins, this easy kids activity is fast to set up and engaging for a wide age-range.
The origin of the ice bin transfer
I may or may not have a problem with our ice maker. We don’t get along terribly well and it’s often jamming on me. This is totally the machine’s fault and not mine.
Because of said jamming, I had a boat load of ice to get rid of, unless I could turn it into an easy indoor toddler activity? Could I find a way to make this into a legit activity so I can blow this jamming incident off as something I meant to do?!
Yes I could – and I’ll call it the ice bin transfer.
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- 2 storage containers: mine are 28 quarts and 15 quarts and they fit together well enough. You can also use two dish pan style bins or bowls side by side.
- Ice and lots of it**
- Optional: food coloring to dye the water
**make sure to use good judgment and lots of adult supervision when playing with ice**
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I used two containers for this activity: one side for ice and one side for water. To keep things from spilling, I put a smaller container into a bigger one (think double bagging or turkducken).
I dumped all the ice in the now open space of the bigger bin – right next to the water bin. See pictures if you’re like me and a total visual learner. These written directions are a little wonky.
Options: If you don’t have a large bin, use two similar sized bins side by side. You can also use two large mixing bowls. The goal is to start with the ice and water separated.
Additional option: I dyed the water blue. Why? Why not. It felt like the right thing to do.
How to play ice bin transfer
The job for my 3 year old was simple: scoop and transfer the ice into the water bin.
Simple and fantastic.
Toddler activities don’t have to take hours to set up or cost tons of dollars to get going. They can be easy and brilliant activities. Ice and a ladle. People. Ice and a ladle, and my toddler was entertained for 20 minutes.
After she finished scooping the ice into the water bin, I had her do it all again – but backwards. Now scoop the ice that’s in the water bin back into the empty side.
She did it, then transferred everything back to the water one last time.
After that – I opened the bin up to any and all free play which meant her Paw Patrollers ended up all over that ice on some super important rescue mission. My kids always have fun playing with ice.
RELATED: Are you looking for the best activities for toddlers? You have to see my full list.
Skills promoted in the ice bin transfer
While we never need a reason for an activity other than that “it’s fun” (because in fun is where kids learn so much through their play), we can take a close look at what skills are being promoted in this activity:
- Arm and grip strength
- Life skills – scooping and transferring is a big skill to master
- Hand-eye coordination
Remember: we can set up activities just for fun. They don’t need a reason… but it’s also fun to know and see what an activity is helping our kids with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depends. Ice cubes are definitely a choking hazard. You will need to use your best judgment and exceptional supervision to decide if your child is safe with ice cubes.
Food coloring “dissolves” in water. In this activity, the concentrated food coloring is so diluted, it doesn’t get on little hands. If you find some on your child’s clothing, set it in cold water for a few hours to let the color “dissolve.” *Always do what you think it best though, I am just some lady on the Internet.
I love to leave an ice activity out, and let it evolve into a water sensory bin.