Ideas For When It’s Hot Outside
Several weekends ago we had a really hot couple of days and I realized I should post some of my hot weather ideas. I took some photos of what we did over those days and then looked through my photo archive for other past things we did. I hope all of these ideas help you and I’d would love to hear what you do to cool down because we’d all love some more ideas.
Most of my kid-related ideas center around ice while the remainder of them still need a freezer. I find the best way to keep our cool is to do simple water play and then, if you’re really hot, you can take it one step further by adding ice cubes to the play. Where we last lived our freezer didn’t have an ice cube dispenser so if I knew it was going to get warm I’d start freezing a tray or two of ice cubes. When they had fully frozen I’d move them to a freezer bag or container so I could freeze more using the same trays. I then continued freezing ice cubes and moving them over until we had more than enough or I ran out of room in the freezer. This way whenever the kids complained about being hot or bored, or started getting grumpy, I had a bunch of ice cubes readily accessible I could pull out quickly. And with that extra space created I could go on to freeze more for the next time.
If you want something larger to keep them occupied for longer you could always freeze their water-safe toys in water using a bowl or container for the mould. This gives them a larger piece of ice that’s going to take much longer to melt, especially important on a hot day, and keep them cool for longer. If you have enough room in the freezer you can easily freeze it whenever you get a chance so it’s there when the weather gets hot next. Then you can simply pull it out to surprise your kids with no added fuss on your part, at the time, letting them have a cool way to play and an activity, attempting to get the toys out, to keep them occupied. Just a word of warning; depending how determined your kids are the toys may break so use items you don’t mind maybe getting broken.
There are many sensory activities out there that use salt to help melt ice but I haven’t used salt at home as, I’ve heard, since the salt lowers the freezing point of the water, helping it melt, it can potentially cause an ice burn on your kids. Since I use sensory play as a method to give myself a break I leave salt out of their icy play. That said if you choose to add salt to yours our local children’s discovery museum used salt to help melt an ice ball and they used watercolors dropped onto the ice with a pipette to highlight where the water melted. It was gorgeous.
Once the kids were done and ready to go inside I gathered up the toys, tossed them back in the bowl, poured water in, and carefully put it back in the freezer for the next day. I don’t know if I somehow gathered up more toys than before or if they were just stacked differently but with the water added the brontosaurus’ neck and head kept sticking out of the bowl no matter what I tried. After several attempts trying to fix it I gave up and let his head stick out of the plastic wrap in the freezer.
This time around Ada went straight to the ice with a rock while Zoey just played next to it. Yesterday they focused on freeing the animals the whole entire time while, in contrast, this time they started prioritizing smacking ice off of the ball and gathering it up so they could cook with the ice pieces as they melted.
Recently I decided to try this again and for fun I added dish soap to see how the ice would be affected. The container sat in the freezer for so long that I had forgotten that I added dish soap so I was confused once I opened it up and saw the top wasn’t as smooth as I expected. That said, Ada and Zoey loved the snow on top, caused by the frozen bubbles, yet other than the top bit there was no major change using soapy water over regular water.
The next time I made this I added water-based food dye to change it up. I split the toys into two piles so I could freeze them in two parts creating a blue lower layer and a red upper layer. I was careful to use two primary colors, instead of a primary and it’s opposing secondary color, so if it melted together it would make an actual color, purple in this case, and not cancel each other out into grey or brown.
When the kids were ready to play with ice again I grabbed it out of the freezer, ran water over the container so it released, and then took it outside to surprise them with. If you dye a large amount of water to freeze I did notice that the outer layer of the ice froze clear with the color only in the center. Both the red and blue sections looked more like balls of color trapped within the ice rather than solid layers. This looked cool, especially with the animals floating in it, but I’m not sure how you’d counteract that in the future. When I unveiled it Ada stated “What the heck! Why is it dyed?” and then as I walked away, smiling, I heard both kids marveling at the snow caused by the condensation on the lid as it froze.
If you prefer something smaller you could always freeze cups of dyed water. This means it melts faster which works perfectly if your kids are less patient or if you want to play at color mixing. For color mixing, for instance, you can combine two frozen colored cups, like red and yellow, and while they melt the secondary color, green, would appear. For these I took six plastic cups, leftover from laundry detergent bottles, and created two blues, two reds, and two yellows. I made sure to put a toy inside each one so the kids could enjoy these whether they felt like mixing colors or freeing the plastic animal. Plus since the plastic toys didn’t fit in the cups it also created a handle.
If you do any of the above ideas and need to extend the play after the plastic toys are released you could easily set up a soapy water bin and get the kids to clean them off. This way you just need to let them dry, unless they dried them too, and put them away, or in the freezer, for later. Throw in Doc McStuffins to get them interested if you need to sell the idea.
Ideas that, mostly, don’t include ice
When Zoey was younger and getting teeth coming in I read online that you can freeze washcloths and then let the baby chew on it to help with the pain. I grabbed a couple of clean washcloths, got them wet, and froze them in a large freezer bag so they would probably stay separated. Time went on and we didn’t seem to need them, or at least I didn’t remember them if we did, and on one hot day I came across them. I figured why not? and gave the kids the frozen wash cloths and asked them to open them up. Simple but it cooled them down and got them interested in the challenge.
If you’re looking for other cooling sensory play and are interested in oobleck (cornstarch and water) you can easily take it further by freezing it. I absolutely love using it to color mix from frozen oobleck cubes as, while it thaws, it doesn’t lose it’s shape and you need to physically mix the colors together. This is perfect as it allows you enough time to decide how much of each hue you should mix together. Writing this makes me realize I need to mix a batch of primary colors and freeze it for this year once I make more room in our freezer. If you’re looking for new sensory ideas, and have oobleck sitting around from this activity, you can simply leave it outside when you’re done and let the heat dry it out turning it into oobleck sand. It’s not cold but the kids spent hours with it last summer.
Or try to cool yourself down with food. If you have a blender or food processor you can grab some fresh or frozen fruit and mix it up as a fun side with your meal. Then take it a step further and use ice cube trays or shaped silicon moulds to create frozen treats you can dole out to your kids at a later date. Or make it simpler and freeze store-bought applesauce. What do you have that might taste different and yummy while frozen?
A while back I bought silicone plastic freezie tubes to make our own cold treats by mixing up frozen fruit, smoothies, juice, or even adding in soda/pop and freezing them. For one of my girls’ birthday parties I bought Frozip disposable ice popsicle mold bags and we made up several different batches to help everyone cool down. Lately I take the easier way out and when I buy yogurt tubes I sometimes throw them in the freezer for an awesome cold treat. This is perfect a week before the best before date when you buy a Costco size box of yogurt tubes and can’t finish them in time. If this is too cold for them I grab a freezie cover, to keep their hands warm, making it a quick and simple icy snack that they love with no effect on my part.
Lately I’ve been starting my day with a mixture of yogurt, fruit, and granola. To make it easier to keep fruit on hand I buy a bunch of berries when we go grocery shopping, they were cheap lately, and I wash and cut them all at once right before supper. I then line my cookie sheet with a silpat liner and, after the kids eat as many as they want, I freeze a bunch overnight. The next morning, or in a couple of hours, they’re simple to pop off the liner and I move them into a freezer bag so they stay ready for whenever I need them. That said I’m sharing this because sometimes my kids need the excitement of something novel like eating the same fruit frozen rather than fresh. Additionally, if you’re getting tired of plain water and have them on hand anyway you can add frozen fruit to your water to add quick flavoring. Last Summer I loved water with ice, frozen strawberries, and lemon juice. It was super simple strawberry lemonade that was refreshing and amazing.
To continue with the fruit theme a couple weeks ago I bought a watermelon and as we neared the end of it the kids got tired of eating it… so I froze the leftovers and surprised them a couple days later with frozen watermelon in their water. It was novel enough that they drank the water and ate most of the watermelon. I had seen a bunch of watermelon pureed drinks online and figured this was a simpler version of it, but if you want something more complicated normally it seems to be paired with mint, lime juice, and/or a shot of something or other.
And since we’re talking about watermelon a couple days ago I came across @MacaroniAndButter’s post on Instagram where she froze watermelon. for only an hour, and the dipped it in melted dark chocolate and sprinkled it with salt. I didn’t have fresh watermelon but I did have the leftover frozen watermelon in the freezer so I tried the same with some milk chocolate wafers and fine salt we had on hand. Note to self next time make sure the salt is by you so you can sprinkle it before the chocolate hardens. I then had extra chocolate so I spread frozen strawberries and blueberries on a silpat lined cookie sheet, sprinkled a bit of salt, tried some, and then quickly broke it up to throw in a freezer bag before it could thaw. All of it was good though personally the chocolate coated blueberries were the best. Definitely keeping this in mind and adding dark chocolate to my grocery list whenever we next buy a watermelon.
What other hot weather snacks, meals, drinks, or desserts can you think of that would keep you feeling cool and hydrated? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
Some other ideas…
I don’t have a pet but a couple days ago I saw someone’s post on social media where they mentioned buying a cooling scarf or collar for their dog and tried it on themselves. They, apparently, loved it enough that they went on to say they’d have to buy another one for their dog. Because I wrote that down I decided to hop on Amazon and found human-centered cooling rags listed that would also be an idea. Searching for ideas for hot weather I found Apartment Therapy’s post that listed five ways to keep cool including, the best sounding one, freezing a damp washcloth in a “U” shape and then wrapping it around your neck. Another one of their ideas was to put a bowl of ice in front of a fan to help circulate colder air. That reminded me of a time, years ago, when my sister visited our apartment during the hottest heat wave we’ve had. At the time Amazon Fresh, who we used for grocery deliveries, used dry ice to pack frozen items. The hottest evening when we couldn’t stand it anymore we did a grocery order, including a frozen item, for the express purpose of putting a bowl of cold water and dry ice in front of our portable fan. It was glorious… while it lasted. All in all the prevailing theme in all the tips I found, whether through Quora or somewhere else, seem to be simply drink a lot of water so try to stay hydrated.
I hope this helps you whether you’re planning on what to do for the next heat wave or currently suffering through one. I’d love to know if this helps you or what other simple ideas you may already have to help me so feel free to share in the comments below. If you want to be notified about any future blog updates you can follow my Facebook page, Instagram account, or join my email list. The email list signup is located in the upper left menu, if on a wide screen device, or below, on any device. I hope your week is going well and this helps you find a bit of coolness.