–A Simple Project submitted by our Art and Nature Specialist: Janimarie DeRose
Here is a fun idea you can do in the winter or use the freezer in the warmer months. This activity can stimulate the senses and creates a beautiful, ephemeral end-product. This activity can be fun with kids of all ages, is free, gets kids outside, takes very little planning, isn’t very messy and is just a lot of fun!
My daughters and I created some “ice tree sun-catchers” during a deep mid-January freeze. It was a fun activity getting us out of the house to gather some rose hips, old sunflower heads, dried berries, and any little bits of nature’s finery we could spy.
After the outdoor collections we brought our bounty inside and carefully arranged them on plastic plates, though a tin pie plate or any container that can hold a shallow amount of water would work. We also put a loop of string through the composition of natural materials, weighting it down with cones or heavier berries, with a large loop intended to stay out of the water/ice. This loop later becomes the hanger for the ice ornament.
We also had fun experimenting with food coloring…one drop goes a long way!
We transferred the plates to the sub-freezing temps outside and filled them with a shallow covering of water. If it is warm you can just put the plates in your freezer.
The next day we gently popped the ice out of the plates and hung our suncatchers. The suncatchers were beautiful!
Inquiry Extension: In summer it might be fun to hypothesis with kids how fast these would melt if you hung them in sun vs. shade or if you added different materials. This could make the perfect foundation for a simple inquiry project where the students raise the questions and test their ideas.
Group Extension: Corie Scribner, one of our other nature families writers, did this activity in winter with her kindergarten class and they hung them in a grove of trees and had a beautiful winter solstice celebration.
Literacy Connection: The wonderful children’s book The Mitten written by Jan Brett shows pictures of these ice suncatchers in her illustrations. This is a very common book that could be borrowed at your local library for free. It might be fun to read this book with your children when you do this project!
There are so many creative extensions that could be made with this project-have fun!Let us know if you try this activity and how it works for you!