Examine the Ice and Then Turn it Into a Masterpiece!

15 Minutes Outside by rebecca CohenSince I learned of Green Hour a year and a half ago, I’ve supported the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement to educate parents about the importance of giving children outdoor time.

As a mother of two young boys and producer of the video series, Get Out of the House, I believe Be Out There can help American families, schools and communities create fun and educational outdoor experiences and raise happier, healthier kids.

My experiences making memories outside with my children led me to write a book as an evergreen resource for families, caregivers, and teachers for simple ways to incorporate the outdoors into every day of the year, no matter the weather. Each month for Wildlife Promise readers, I’ll suggest a seasonally appropriate activity for you to enjoy your time outside from my new book, 15 Minutes Outside.

And don’t let winter stop you! Here’s an idea to get out there even in the chilly days of January:


  • Examine the ice outside. Look at the layers, bubbles, leaves, sticks, and other items that add to the texture of it. My kindergartener recently remembered his science lessons while we scrutinized a piece of ice in our yard. “Mom, did you know that ice is a solid, which turns to water—a liquid—when it melts, and when it disappears into air it’s a gas!”
  • After you have examined the ice, why not turn it into a work of art? Using paint brushes and homemade watercolors (water mixed with food coloring) have your kids make a painting right on a piece of ice. Younger kids will enjoy using spray bottles, each filled with a different color of paint (water and food coloring), to create an abstract painting on the ice.

Excerpt from 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with your Kids by Rebecca P. Cohen (Sourcebooks, March 2011).

Whether your wintry weather is cold or warm, we can find or create ice to play with and in many ways. I hope you’ll enjoy this activity as much as my five year-old son did and still does today. Want more tips? Subscribe to my free monthly newsletter, Learn Outside, at www.rebeccaplants.com.