Summer Activities for Kids — Watercolor Ice Cube Paint

It has been SUPER hot this week, but our local pool doesn’t open until next weekend!  We have been spending lots of time outside lately, but we had already used up all of our “beat the heat” ideas for outside play — except for the giant inflatable pool, but I have a spider issue, so I didn’t want to deal with that while my husband wasn’t home.

That last sentence doesn’t really make sense… but trust me.  The spiders in my yard love to climb onto the pool while we’re not using it to see how much they can make me freak out when we go out to go swimming.  I cannot handle spiders.  They make me want to vomit.  This is a genuine phobia, people.  I should probably see someone about it.  But anyway…

So I was sitting at the table with L while she ate her snack, thinking about what we could do outside that afternoon to keep cool.  I thought about ice cubes, but I wanted to do something fun with them.  Food coloring?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  Food coloring and kids do not mix.  Then I spied our new watercolor set that I had just introduced to L that morning.  Bingo.  I’d make some watercolor ice cube paint!  I wanted to be able to use it that afternoon, so I dropped everything to make it right away.  I filled up an ice cube tray with water, then added a few drops of watercolors into each one.  [It turned out a little too light for my tastes… next time I will add a TON of watercolor.]  I put it in the freezer and hoped for the best.

Well, it didn’t work out.  After I hyped up the project and got L SO excited about it, I brought out the ice cubes only to find that they were not yet frozen.  Mommy fail.  We had to put them back into the freezer to try the next day.  Turns out watercolor ice cubes take longer to freeze than plain water.  My husband could tell you exactly why, and if you mention it in passing he’ll assume you naturally want to know why it works that way…

So the next day I loaded up our watercolor ice cube paint and trays and set it up for both girls!

watercolor ice cube painting 3

I spread out our picnic blanket and added an old towel to soak up the melting colors.  I put a piece of watercolor paper (I recommend this type of paper, since it is thick enough to withstand all of the water from the ice cubes) into each art tray, and took some ice cubes out for each girl.  I showed them how the ice cubes melted a bit from the heat of their hands and the sun, and how the colors painted on the paper.

Watercolor Ice Cube Painting

L thought this was awesome.  She loved naming all the colors and watching them mix together to make new colors.  She also enjoyed the sensory experience provided by the cold, wet ice cubes, especially in the heat of the afternoon.

watercolor ice cube painting 2

N was more focused on trying to pick up the ice cubes (which she never managed to do!), so her painting kind of happened by accident.  Her experience was definitely more sensorial than artistic… but she loved it!

[I used non-toxic watercolor paints made by Crayola — I checked their website, and it says they have a toxicologist test all of their products, so they are safe even if ingested.  Neither girl ate them, but I’m sure N would have if she had been able to pick the ice cubes up!]

watercolor ice cube painting 4

When we were finished, we washed off in the sprinkler.  L asked to do it again the next day, but I didn’t have any prepared for her!  I will definitely be making this again soon so I can just pull them out of the freezer the next time L asks for them.


12 thoughts on “Summer Activities for Kids — Watercolor Ice Cube Paint

  1. I love the link to the sensory bins because when I first saw the picture on Instagram I thought “I know she didn’t use food coloring again!” Lol

    Trying to figure out whether I want to attempt this activity with my little one. How is your youngest? Thanks!

    1. Haha, no, never food coloring! My youngest is only 7 months old, and she enjoyed it. She spent most of the time trying to pick the ice cubes up so she could eat them, but they were too slippery for her to get a good grip.

  2. My out-of-state grand kids are coming for their summer visit in a bit over a week and this is definitely going on my to-do list! The 2 year old will love it and his 7 year old sister will probably enjoy it, too. The 14 year old can help with clean up. 🙂
    This is a great, creative idea! Thank you for sharing it!

  3. I love this…I have done this with my classes for years. Add a popsicle stick to the ice cube and you have an ice cube paint brush! Love your blog!

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