It doesn’t matter what time of year it is playing with colored ice is always a hit with kids. But in summertime, a water bin filled with colored ice cubes  is just the best for cooling sensory play for kids of all ages. Making colored ice cubes is perfect for keeping the kids cool and refreshed on a hot, summer day!

Coloured Ice Play Activity Bin - colored ice cubes floating in water for ice play and how to make colored ice cubes from Kids Activities Blog
Let’s make colored ice cubes for sensory play outside!

Ice Cubes & Kids Makes Summer Time Fun

Summer is awesome and so are the fun summer activities to keep your kids cool and having fun in the backyard!    

Related: More fun summer activities

One of our favorite ways to pass a warm summer morning is to make colored ice cubes and add them to a big bucket of cold water.  

It keeps everyone cool, and it’s so much fun to scoop, pour, mix and stir while the ice cubes slowly release their color into the water.

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Ice Play with Colored Ice Cubes

ice play-freeze colored water for colored ice play - Kids Activities Blog - ice cube trays filled with colored water frozen
Let’s make colorful ice cubes!

Supplies Needed to Make Colored Ice Cubes

Thrift shops and second-hand stores are great places for picking up ice cube trays in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Popsicle molds and small, shaped plastic containers are super for this too.

How to Make Colored Ice for Sensory Play

ice play- Colored Water Ice Cubes frozen in ice trays - Kids Activities Blog
Our frozen colored ice cubes are such bright colors!

Step 1

It’s best to start freezing your ice several days in advance so you’ll have lots on hand for your activity.

Step 2

I fill several ice cube trays and small plastic containers with water, add a drop or two of food colouring to each section, and load them all onto a baking sheet.  

Step 3

I place the baking sheet into the freezer and freeze until solid which usually takes about 8 hours.

Step 4

I transfer the colored cubes into a plastic bag which stays in the freezer, and I begin again.  

Repeat Until You Have As Many Colored Ice Cubes as You Desire

I’ll do this over and over until I’ve accumulated a supply of several hundred colored ice cubes.  This way, the kids can enjoy a whole morning of play!

ice play- boy and girl stirring coloured ice in a bowl of water in giant pink bowl with wood spoon- kids activities blog
Grab a large spoon and stir the cold water filled with colorful ice cubes.

Ice Play Sensory Activity

When we’re ready to play I take a large, clear storage bin out to a shady area of the yard and I fill it with very cold water.  

The colder your water is, the longer your ice cubes will last.  The colored ice cubes will make the water even colder.  

You’ll be surprised at how long the ice will last, even on a hot day.

ice play- boy scooping and pouring from coloured ice activity bin
Ladles, cupcake liners, ice cube trays and more for fun colorful water and ice play.

I set the kids up with all kinds of kitchen utensils and instruments: large and small bowls  for scooping the ice into, ladles, sieves, tongs, wooden spoons etc.  

Anything goes really.  

I just rummage through my kitchen drawers and cupboards until I’ve come up with a wide variety of instruments for them to play and experiment with.

Let’s Play with Colored Ice Cubes

Dump in a batch of ice, and let the fun begin!  

My guys can spend an entire morning playing with an activity bin like this: 

  1. They scoop, they pour, they strain, they sort.  
  2. The mix potions and they make soups, ladling out bowls for everyone and pouring their concoctions from one container to the next.
b kids playing with coloured ice in a giant pink bowl with large spoons outsdie
Kids can make their own colorful creations with the melting ice cubes.

It’s fun to watch the colour leach out of the ice cubes and colour the water as they play.

ice play coloured ice play bin with colorful ice melting in water
The colors mix and turn different shades as the ice melts.

Related: Check out our other ice play activities for kids!

Colored Ice Cubes Floating in the Water Bin

Hours of splashing, exploring and learning.  What a wonderful way to spend a hot summer morning.

ice play - fine motor play with coloured ice with ice and tweezers
Practicing fine motor skills with tongs is always fun!

You may even get a chance to sit back and put your feet up while your kids are kept cool and happy!

Our Experience With These Ice Play Activities

Looking for fun ways to explore the world through the senses? These ice sensory activities explore temperatures and textures. You can easily turn this colored ice into an icy sensory bin, especially if you add it to semi-warm water and then fill it with the colorful blocks of ice.

My kids loved playing with ice and their sensory experiences. They also got to explore imaginative play, which is great for social skills, by exploring different ways to deal with situations.

For example, my daughter was pretending to sell soup while my son wanted to buy some but didn’t have enough money. So my daughter asked him to help make soup (by adding hot water to the ice) and then gave him a bowl of “soup.”

Yield: dozens

Colored Ice Cubes


Make these easy colored ice cubes. We are using them today in an outdoor sensory cooling play bin, but they have limitless potential!

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost free


  • cold water
  • food coloring


  • ice cube trays
  • Baking sheet
  • Plastic storage bags


  1. Fill ice cube trays with water and add a drop or two of desired food coloring to each ice cube.
  2. Load the ice cube trays on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for about 8 hours or until frozen solid.
  3. Remove from ice cube trays and put into plastic storage bags.
  4. Repeat with the now empty ice cube trays.

More Ice Fun from Kids Activities Blog

Did your kids love the colored ice cubes? Is this one of their favorite ways of ice play?

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