How to Create Arctic Adventure Tubs With Your Kids
Do they like polar bears and other cold-weather critters?
Ever wonder what it’s like way up north in the Arctic?
Take them on an arctic adventure that’s as close as your own kitchen!
In this article I’ll show you how to make your own simulated arctic environment from stuff you already have at home.
Why an Arctic Landscape?
If you’re looking for an activity that costs nothing, requires less than five minutes of hands-on prep time and makes use of all reusable materials, then you’ll love to make an arctic landscape with your kids.
The Arctic is cool—downright cold, actually! It’s the great unknown, a mysterious faraway place. It’s a vast expanse of wind-swept ice and frigid water, just waiting for adventure. It’s a blank slate demanding your child delve deep into his or her imagination.
Most toys today are single-purpose. They’re designed for one kind of play, one story line that is already dictated to your child before you get it out of the box. This simple, homemade toy won’t impose those kinds of limits on your child.
Most importantly, your child will be actively involved in all steps of creating the arctic landscape. The easy-to-follow steps encourage autonomy in even the youngest child. The child can gather the materials, plan the setup and work on his or her gross motor skills while pouring water.
Kids can decide which elements (animals, rocks, colors) they want to include and change them up to start the play all over again. The creative process starts with making the arctic landscape and continues throughout your and your child’s play.
When your kids return from their escape to a winter wonderland, you can learn more about the Great White North together. Check out the resource list below.
Let’s get started on your arctic adventure:
#1: Create Your Landscape
Yep, I’m confident that the entire creation of your arctic landscape can be explained under one heading.
First, gather your materials. Make sure your larger container will fit in the freezer.
Put the smaller container inside the larger one. You can place it on the side or in the middle, depending on where you want your “water hole” to be.
Fill the small container with rocks or something heavy to weigh it down and keep it in place.
Fill the larger container with water to about ½ inch (1 cm) from the lip of the smaller container. You don’t want water to go inside the smaller container. At this point, your child can add food coloring to your water for a creative twist.
Last step: Place it in the freezer. Now you have to wait (about 3-4 hours, depending on the size of your container) for the water to freeze.
The great thing is, once you’ve taken the time to freeze your arctic landscape, you can put it back in the freezer after play and pull it out anytime to use again and again.
#2: Put on the Finishing Touches
Once the water has completely frozen, pull your container out of the freezer and set it on a table with a dishtowel underneath.
Carefully pull the smaller container out of the ice.
This will leave a hole that you can fill with cold water.
Have your child gather some of his or her favorite plastic animals and people.
#4: Read More About the Arctic
When your play is winding down—or, as is often the case with my own kids, the landscape becomes a swimming pool—help him or her to dry the plastic animals and, if you have the room, put the arctic landscape back into the freezer for another day. (Be sure to put the weighted bowl back in).
This is a great time to bring out a book or check out a website that will get your child thinking even more about winter, snow and ice. Here are some reading suggestions:
- North Pole South Pole—Nancy Smiler Levinson and Diane Dawson Hearn (Ages 8-11)
- Building an Igloo—Ulli Steltzer (Ages 3-8)
- Sled Dogs Run—Jonathan London and Jon Van Zyle (Ages 6-9)
- Life in the Far North (Native Nations of North America)—Bobbie Kalman and Rebecca Sjonger (Ages 9 and up)
- Snowflake Bentley—Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Mary Azarian (Ages 4-8)
- At the Poles (Animal Trackers Around the World) by Tessa Paul (Ages 9 and up)
- Who Lives in the Snow?—Jennifer Berry Jones and Consie Powell (Ages 4-8)
- The Last Polar Bear—Jean Craighead George (Ages 4-7)
All of these are great conversation starters!
Talk about aquatic life versus land animals in the arctic, or how animals closer to your home survive the winter.
Talk about how people who live in far northern regions live, work and play in their unique environment.
Watch the aurora borealis or Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights (aurora borealis) occur near the north and south poles.
Enjoy your virtual visit to the Arctic. I’m sure your kids will want to play there again soon!
Some Final Thoughts…
We love to make up stories, and setting the scene for our characters fuels our imagination. Little plastic animals and figurines are great for that, because they can switch roles at every playtime. When it comes to letting our kids explore their own creativity, the simpler, the better.
It’s hard for us to imagine life in the Arctic. But this simple activity will get you and your kids thinking and talking about life up north.
What do you think? I’ve shared a couple of my kids’ clever ideas, but there are so many ways to use the arctic landscape! Share what you’ve come up with below! Please leave a comment or picture of your family’s arctic adventure.
Amanda Shaw is mom to three spirited children and doubles as director of content marketing at WebrunnerMG. On any given day, she dons a tutu or a hard hat. Other posts by Amanda Shaw »