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Nature Excavation

Wondering what to do with all of your nature hunt treasures? Try freezing them in water for a fun science experiment.

If you’ve recently been on a nature hunt—”who hasn’t this summer?”, and have a collection of natural items that your child is not quite ready to part with, ask your child to gather them all together. 

Encourage your child to lay out the items and decide if there is anything else they’d like to add to their collection. Nature treasures may include rocks, acorns, feathers, pine cones, leaves, twigs, shells, tree bark, vines, etc. 

Find a container (a sand pail, empty ice cream bucket, plastic food container, etc) that’s been relegated to a play bin. Once your child’s collection is complete, have them arrange the items in the container however they choose. Add water to the container and place in the freezer for a few hours until frozen.

Once slightly melted, remove the frozen block from the container and bring it outside.

Questions to ask:

  • What happened after we put this in the freezer?
  • What do you see inside the ice?
  • How can we get everything out?

If you have child-friendly tools (toy hammers or screwdrivers), have your child work at the ice to extract the items. For a challenge, you could offer different melting strategies (hot water, salt, etc) to break down the ice.


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