Ice cubes make great blocks–just think of an igloo! In this activity, we make colorful ice in a square ice cube tray, and invite children to construct using ice and salt.

Set up Time: 10 minutes (plus freezing overnight)


  1. Add food coloring to your water for your ice cube tray. Leave it to freeze over night.
  2. Arrange the ice in a sensory tray, as well as some bowls of salt.
  3. Invite children to sprinkle just a little bit of salt on each ice cube to melt it a little bit so that they stick better. Then, see what you can build!

Note: The food coloring might stain fingers and/or clothing and surfaces, so plan accordingly (smocks, table covering). Or, use plain ice!


If available, we also recommend using ice cube trays of different shapes and sizes. There is a whole world of fun shapes that one can find with silicon ice trays (hearts, paw prints, silicon cupcake liners).


  • Salt
  • Ice cube tray
  • Food coloring

Learning Through Play

Cognitive: Problem Solving – How do we get the ice to stack? One of the tricks here is to sprinkle just a little bit of salt on each ice cube, so that they stick and stack nicely. Invite children to see how much salt is the right amount and see how many cubes they can stack.

Language: Conversation – Building with colorful and sensory materials is a great way to practice using open-ended questions with children. Instead of asking them questions like “Which is the green ice cube?”, which might elicit them to just point and keep playing, you can instead ask them “What colors did you use to make your tower? How did you build that?”

School Readiness: Love of Books – While not exactly a book, this activity invites children into a realm of storytelling. Building with ice might be very popular with children who like movies and stories set in cold places (like Frozen). That’s okay! It’s a great way to initiate story telling as it connects to something that interests the children. Invite them to tell a story about their ice structures and who might live in them.

See this activity in the Rayz Kidz app along with the other activities in the theme Construction – Blocks. Rayz Kidz is your trusted source for play-based activities featuring over 100 themes and 500+ hands-on activities and clear descriptions of the beautiful learning that is happening through play.