Outdoor Colored Ice Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers – Busy Toddler



OUTDOOR COLORED ICE BIN: You've got to try this fun science activity with your toddler or preschoolers. This is the best easy outdoor activity OR indoor activity on a rainy day!

You need this outdoor colored ice bin in your life

When my oldest was a toddler, I started setting up Future Me (Susie) for success by adding one little thing to my freezer: colored ice cubes. I’d make them, freeze them, and know that someday I’d need them…

This is a routine that I’ve followed for 7 years now. Make cubes. Forget about cubes. Have a bad day. Remember that cubes are there for the rescue.

RELATED: Looking for more fun and easy outdoor activities for kids? Try this list!

A child playing with colored ice cubes

That’s how we ended up with an outdoor colored ice bin

As per usual, I had grabbed my ice cube tray weeks before and filled them with colored ice cubes (I’ll get to all the directions in just a hot second).

Things weren’t smooth sailing to quiet time this day and my son (4) needed a little something extra. That’s when I remembered that Past Susie had frozen colored ice for Future Susie – and I just love when those two get along.

I quickly made this outdoor colored ice bin for my preschoolers – and the morning was saved.

Let’s talk outdoor colored ice bin set-up, prep, and materials

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Every now and then while I’m cleaning up dinner, I remember to make a tray or two of colored ice cubes. I use a liquid measuring cup with a drop or two of color, fill up 3-4 slots in the tray, then move to a new color.

A child playing with colored ice cubes

Freeze overnight.

You can use them the next day, or (like me), wait until a day when you REALLY NEED an activity to help reset the day.


And now the official set-up begins

I used two Dollar Store dish pans and set them in my long under-the-bed storage bin (one of my all time favorite activity supplies). With them, I put some other materials and supplies: there’s not real rhyme or reason to what I picked.

The set up of ice cubes in a white dish pan, open plastic cups, basters, droppers tongs, and warm water in a second dish pan

I wanted plenty (but not an overwhelming amount) of options for my son. This way, it could become his project and not just something mom set up.

I filled up one side of the dish pans with the ice cubes and the other side with warm water to give some science options to the play as well.

The stage was set and it was time for play.

A child picks up a colored ice cube with a tong

I opened up the outdoor colored ice bin for play

It was time – my son (who had been having a not-so-lovely day) was suddenly abuzz with anticipation. His mood began to change.

He sat down and quietly began his investigation.

What were the colored cubes?

Would they melt?

Could he move them?

Would his hands get wet?

What happened to the color?

This is an inquiry rich activity filled with possibilities. My son was deep into play, science, learning, and fun in no time.

A child playing at an outdoor colored ice bin

What all did he do in this science activity?

He moved cubes from one bin to another. He moved water around and explored ice cube color mixing. He observed the color disperse in the water.

He was mesmerized.

30 minutes of play went by – transferring cubes, water, adding lids to jar, shaking, wondering, questioning, and resetting his day.

A child experimenting with colored ice and warm water


Nope, it doesn’t stain. Even when it’s really concentrated, it “dissolves” and disperses if flooded with water.

In this activity, the colored cubes are diluted plenty and nothing got on my sons hands or clothing.

If it had, I would have washed his hands and soaked the clothing in cold water before washing as normal.

Food coloring looks scary, but it’s not.

Will you try the outdoor colored ice bin?

OUTDOOR COLORED ICE BIN: You've got to try this fun science activity with your toddler or preschoolers. This is the best easy outdoor activity OR indoor activity on a rainy day!


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