Ice Lanterns

'I like the way the natural bits glow - they look like they’re living in the ice!' - S age 7
'They’re nearly gone now. They’re melting ‘cos it’s too warm. Like Olaf.’ - C age 4

‘It’s sort of like seeing insects in amber. Except they’re millions of years old.’ - W age 9

Like many other families, we’ve been playing with ice over the past week - making sculptures, decorations and lanterns. The latter are our favourites, and they’ve offered lots of learning opportunities as well as proving an exciting prize waiting for us in our pjs (on a frosty morning).

I’ve heard people say that this lockdown is harder than the first, as this one is happening during winter ‘so we can’t get outdoors’. Though I absolutely appreciate that the cold isn’t always appealing - winter holds so many unique opportunities for play and discovery and is just as stunning as any other season.

Read the quotes above - taken verbatim from my children today. I’m sharing them to illustrate the learning that happens when we explore nature together - without even trying. Each one of these statements could lead to a great conversation, inspire an experiment or some further reading, or encourage a new theme for play. Child-led learning - harnessing innate curiosity and encouraging debate and discovery, without a worksheet in sight.

To make ice lanterns:

Find two containers, one smaller than the other.

Put the smaller one inside the larger, and weigh it down with a few stones.

Pour water to fill the ‘moat’ created in the larger container.

Pop a few choice nature finds inside the water - leaves, seed heads, moss etc.

Leave overnight if temps are below freezing (or in the freezer if patience isn’t your virtue).

Once frozen, remove containers and place tea light in the centre.

Enjoy the beautiful glow through your ice-wall and marvel at the briefly preserved nature finds suspended inside.