Arctic Tuff Tray Play

I decided to set up an arctic tuff tray outdoors to get a bit of fresh air – this one is not for the faint hearted! As the temperature has dropped so much I filled the tray with water late last night and i dropped in some snow flake decorations left over from Christmas, and it worked perfectly – frozen on the surface when I checked this morning, although not quite enough to get building with sheet ice like this frozen tuff tray.

You will need:

  • Water
  • Various tubs and containers
  • Snow flakes
  • Foaming soap
  • Animals
  • Food colouring

I popped a few bowls and tubs in the freezer overnight filling them with ice – plus one with blue food colouring mixed in with our beloved arctic animals. This was my “back up” just in case the tray didn’t freeze and these could have been an activity all of their own. The first thing Arlo said when he saw this tray was “we need more stuff” – running indoors for his tool set and bits and bobs to get stuck right in.

I covered the entire tray with foaming soap for added texture and colour, hiding lots of the ice at first. With it being so cold I added a couple of washing up bowls of warm water beside him and Arlo set to work – brute force worked to break up the ice with a hammer and picking it up to throw at the ground to smash – but he quickly realised it was also just as fun to add warm water and melt the ice making patterns and swirls.

I had made “igloos” by submerging one bowl of water inside another to freeze and I hid animals underneath these in the hollows and foam so there was plenty more to explore once he finished freeing the ice animals and checked out the rest of the tray – I decided take a step back at this stage and let Arlo lead the play and it became an ice rescue mission.

He was quite happy for a while playing with squeezey fish and trying to get me with water sprayed from their mouths. He rescued all of his arctic animals and ran to put them indoors at this point “for later” – and also decided that he needed to top up the tray with more water from the garden tap so ran back and forth with a washing up bowl for a while.

We ended up with a delightful soup of smashed ice, warm water and foamy bubbles in our arctic tuff tray  – and mixing and pouring this concoction was fun for Arlo….. some of this ended up in the mud kitchen. I love seeing a tuff tray look well and truly obliterated at the end of a very busy hour. With it being so cold there is still lots of ice left over and so I’ve left this one in the garden to see if it re-freezes overnight and we can get more play tomorrow – maybe an ice rink?

Arlo hid all the animals in an orbee spa indoors once he was done with the arctic tuff tray and we settled down together to spend our Sunday afternoon watching an episode of David Attenborough’s frozen planet, chatting about all the different animals we have discovered this week. It’s been a fab start to the year with this winter theme – we aren’t ready to say goodbye quite yet so will continue exploring and sharing as we adventure though play – tap the image below to check out more of our fun activities.

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