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  • Teacher Stacey

Ice in the Desert

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

At Teacher Stacey's Playground we had to be creative when it comes to learning about snow, and arctic animals. But we did just that! We have spent the last two weeks discussing the theme of winter, snow and ice. I brought down my globe which sits on a high shelf to show the kiddos the continent of Antarctica. They had fun proving to me that they absolutely COULD pronounce that big, giant word! I explained that in Antarctica there is always snow and it is always cold. We live in the desert of Arizona so I think that concept may be just a bit abstract for some of my students.

Here are some of the activities we incorporated into our learning about cold, ice and snow.

I have several ice cube trays in a variety of shapes and sizes. What an incredibly easy activity to put in the sensory that kept the children completely engrossed! I even learned a few things! Ice cubes (or sea stars or pineapples) were not only sensory in the sense of touch. We could hear the ice melting, we could watch the ice cubes get smaller and turn into water, we added some salt to see what happened and of course a few children had to use their sense of taste!

For art, one day I kept it very simple with black construction paper, white chalk and cotton balls to make snow pictures.

Another two cool art activities (groaaaan pun intended) was ice cube painting. Place liauid water color in ice cube trays with some water and then add put popsicles sticks in each compartment. Put in freezer. When the cubes freeze they freeze into beautiful cubes of color you can paint with! The alternative is to have the liquid watercolor paint in the paint cups available for the child. I suggest wearing aprons as this paint does stain more than tempera paint. Have several ice cubes or a chunk of ice available for the children to paint. It becomes both an art and sensory experience as the children rush to paint the sculpture before it melts.

One last wintery art activity I had out was to create a winter forest. I pre-cut brown construction paper into strips, provided glue sticks and white paper. When the children finished gluing their forests, they sponge painted snow (white paint) on the trees. Most of the children seemed to have had a blizzard in their forest! Side note: we did explain that in Antarctica no trees grow. 😉

Some of our books, our letter practice (I and W) and salt tray writing. Melting ice with salt.

Pengolo is a fun penguin and egg matching game that my students caught on to very quickly.

Insta-snow is always a win! I opted for giving each child their own bowl of it. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics of the children measuring it and watching it grow. Because honestly, that's the real magic!

For our math center I put out these fun counting cones from Lakeshore Learning. I didn't know they had an alphabet version too!

Another idea I came up with for the sensory bin was blue, green, white and clear rocks and "gems" that I bought at a dollar store. I suppose this is a stretch but with the sunl shining through the window, it did seem like snowflakes glittering in the sunlight.

And last but certainly not least, never underestimate the amount of fun children can have with shaving cream! We added foam blocks one day and twigs and woodland animals the other days.

We had so much fun with this unit! And even though here in the Sonoran Desert it didn't drop below 50 degrees during this time, we did our best learning about the tundra, ice, snow, and freezing temperatures!

Keep playing and keep learning!

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