Arctic Sensory Play

If you read some of my past posts you might have come to realize that we love to make a huge mess in this house. As long as it doesn’t involve glitter I am perfectly fine with it, and the fun doing this activity definitely outweighed the cleanup time afterward. I found this tube of cute arctic animals at Michaels last week and couldn’t resist taking it home. I set up an icy landscape for arctic sensory play and for the kids to cool off since it has been really hot the past days.

Why Sensory Play?

Sensory activities stimulate the senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight, and hearing. Sensory play helps young children to build nerve connections in the brain and promotes motor skill and language development. It encourages children to explore, discover and imagine while they play, and create.

Infants as young as 4-6 months can discover the world with simple sensory activities by feeling different textures or materials, for example holding a soft teddy bear compared to a feeding spoon.

Playing with different textures, ice cubes and animals is a great sensory stimulation and also quite enjoyable.


  • plastic bin or large tray with rim for the playscape
  • shaving cream, or whipped cream if you have a young toddler
  • ice cubes
  • icebergs, fill a few containers or cups with water and freeze overnight
  • small arctic or ocean animals
  • spoon, dropper, water, any decor or material you can think of
  • towels or newspaper if you are doing this inside

Setting up your arctic sensory play area

  1. Fill a few plastic containers with water and freeze them overnight. These will be your icebergs.
  2. When you are ready to play, place towels or a few rags on the table or floor. We decided to do this inside because everything would have melted within a few minutes in the Tennessee sun. We wanted it to last longer.
  3. Place your tub or tray on the towels and build your landscape with the ice blocks from the containers, ice cubes, and shaving cream as the snow. You could also add a dish with water to represent the ocean.
  4. Place your animals.
  5. Roll up your sleeves and dig in!

Let your child explore. How does the shaving cream feel compared to the ice cubes? What happens if the ice starts melting and mixes with the cream? Look at the different animals. Which ones can swim? You can guide your child in discovering the playscape or just let them freely explore.

My kids are not easily impressed any longer but this activity was a clear winner! They begged me to do it again but this time with the animals frozen in the ice. We have a bowl of water with a dozen animals in it in the freezer for an icy excavation tomorrow morning.

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