How to set up STEAM Ice Play & “Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters!”

An Interesting Book & STEAM Ice Play!

After reading Marikka Tamura’s “Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters!” we decided to try out an ice play activity we had seen a while back on @lukas_messy_adventures on instagram here. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to walk you through it. So, let’s get started…

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Summary of “Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters!”

cover of "Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters" book and ice penguins in shaving cream ice play

“Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters!” by Marikka Tamura and illustrated by Daniel Rieley is an interesting book about oil spills leaving penguins covered in goo. The author of this book recalls coming across an adorable photo of real penguins wearing sweaters. People around the world were knitting sweaters to help keep them warm and to prevent them from ingesting the oil toxins. As it turns out sweaters were not so helpful after all, they trapped the toxins close to their body and putting the sweaters on a penguin sent their stress levels through the roof.

So this book is fiction but based on the reality that “Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters”. It’s an insightful first look at ocean pollution, how to help, and the importance of reading beyond a cute photo or catchy title.

STEAM Ice Play?

You might be wondering… “What do you do with it?” or “How is this not just going to be a sensory mess?” There are many ways to answer these two common questions…

hand mixing colored water next to ice trays for ice play

First, the most basic answer to “What you could do with STEAM Ice Play?” is… have Messy Fun. Sensory play at its finest is not about “doing” something specific. It is about exploring, feeling, listening, watching, problem solving, creating, etc… This is an open-ended activity. Just as each child has their own unique personality, experience, and preference in play, the outcome of this activity is just as special.

hand squeezing blue water into ice tray for ice play

As for the second question, Yes, this is definitely a messy one! But, I hear you. I’ve been asked that question many times. Therefore, a detailed answer, along with strategies for successful messy sensory play, can be found by reading, “What about the Sensory Mess?”

What We Did with STEAM Ice Play…

penguins and colored ice in trays in the freezer

We tend to keep the activities as simple as possible around here. We’re not interested in complicated or costly. We are also all about fostering independence. For this activity my daughter had a lot of fun using food coloring to make a rainbow of colored water in little bowls to squirt into the ice trays. She decided which penguin figure she wanted in each spot and popped the ice trays into the freezer.

penguin ice play

Next my daughter & I began making a slide out of magnetic tiles which was a lot of fun and took some time and lots of problem solving to figure out. Once we thought we were on to something we covered it with aluminum foil and added some magnetic tiles standing up like trees to help the penguins stay on course.

Once the penguin ice was ready we took them out of the freezer and placed them onto the top of the slide. Some slid down fast, others slowly. I could instantly see my daughters wheels spinning, figuring out what made one go faster than the other, testing theories and trying different strategies. This STEAM ice play activity had a ton of learning involved in it.

penguins in ice sliding down aluminum foil and magnetic tile slide

She played with the ice penguins for quite some time and when it was coming to an end she requested adding some “snow” a.k.a. shaving cream. Which we did. My daughter took notice that the shaving cream definitely impeded the sliding so it was a good call to add this at the end.

I would suggest STEAM Ice Play if you’re looking for a fun & educational activity to connect with your child. If you’re looking for more winter themed bookish play, you might wanna check out our Bunny SlopesWalking in a Winter Wonderland, or Snowmen at Christmas posts!

Materials We Used

  1. “Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters!” book (from the library or you can buy one here)
  2. Ice trays
  3. Food coloring
  4. Water
  5. Small bowls
  6. Dropper
  7. Aluminum foil
  8. Penguin figures
  9. Magnetic tiles (optional)
  10. Shaving Cream (optional)
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

How to Set Up STEAM Ice Play?

  1. Make different colored water in small bowls using food coloring.
  2. Place the penguin figures into the ice trays.
  3. Using a dropper or baster, fill the ice cube trays with colorful water.
  4. Place the ice trays into the freezer.
  5. Use magnetic tiles to create a ramp or slide.
  6. Use magnetic tiles standing up on the sides as “trees” and a barrier so the ice penguins stay on the slide.
  7. Place aluminum foil over the slide to protect the tiles and help it be less bumpy.
  8. Once frozen take the ice trays out and pop out the penguins.
  9. Place the penguins in ice at the top of the slide and give them a little push.
  10. *Remember that figuring out what angle to put the slide at, why the different penguins slide differently, how to get them to slide faster, slower, etc… is all part of the STEAM learning & fun.
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

Wait, There’s More…

Sample of “Communicating & Connecting FREE Bonus Printable.

I believe you can easily strengthen communication skills and foster independence all while playing and connecting with your child. To help you do this; I’ve created a FREE printable for each activity called, “Communicating & Connecting”.

It will give you a list of suggestions I’ve found very helpful as a Mom & as a special education teacher; to help you build lifelong skills. Please don’t feel obligated to do everything on the list (but if you do, you’re a rockstar 😉 ).

As a Thank You for subscribing; this is a special FREEBIE for our Email Subscribers Only. 🙂 Click here if you’ve already subscribed. Otherwise, Sign Up below to get the password & access to our entire FREE Printables Library today! 😉

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