Ideas For When It's Hot Outside

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.

Pinterest image showing a collage of five different images, also shown below, along with the title and url of the blog's homepage.

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.

There are two bins laid out over towels on the kitchen floor. To the left of either the towel extends were toys and the girls sit to play. By Zoey, in the back, there's plastic dishes, muffin tin, and scoops to transport water. Hidden, by Ada, at the bottom are a couple bowls and small plastic toy animals and insects for pretend play. The bottom bin has a hunk of ice cubes stuck together into a ball.
Our simple bin, water, and toys on the kitchen floor activity with the added dimension of a ball of ice cubes. We played with water on the floor a lot in the past but now with the kids older we’ve mainly brought it to the table now. I absolutely love how this works over a range of ages as you can add cups to play with water pouring or add some animals to create pretend world stories. Looking back on this picture I’m assuming the kids fought over whether or not they wanted ice resulting in one bin of only water (Zoey) and one bin with the ice (Ada).
Two bins side by side filled with Dollar Tree kitchen items. Underneath are towels now soaked through in places while Ada sits behind the back one playing with ice.
Once Zoey was done with the sensory bin Ada got free reign with it all.

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.

Closeup of the top of the frozen metal bowl with the plastic wrap half pulled off. If you look in the ice you can see a brontosaurus and an green-ish iguana in the depths.
I gathered up a bunch of their outside vehicles and dinosaurs, tossed them in a large metal bowl, filled it up with water, covered it with plastic wrap, and then carefully placed it in the freezer to freeze solid.
The icy ball is shown placed onto the foam squares outside. Both girls are clustered around it. You can see the odd wheel from the vehicles within.
Once the kids sounded like they needed a distraction, and more importantly to cool down, I pulled it out, ran hot water over the bowl, and popped it out. I then stuck it back in the bowl to carry outside so the kids could unveil it themselves. I loved how cool the ball looked when placed flat side down.
The icy toys are flat side up while Ada rubs the top to try to see what's inside. Zoey is laying on her stomach on the chair looking down at it. From the side you can see the dinosaurs 'running' through the icy side.
They started by just poking it and over time got more inventive with their methods. I love how the dinosaurs look like they’re running inside the ice.

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.

Overview of the second bowl of icy toys. Shows the top with the side of the brontosaurus body sticking out and his neck exiting the bowl. Between his front legs you can see the tyrannosaurus rex.
After freezing the toys a second time around we ended up with this. Love the thin layer of ice that froze against the plastic wrap.

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.

Image shows Ada crouched down holding the ice bowl with one hand as the other hand smashes a rock against it. You can see ice particles flying in the air.
Ada attempted to use a rock to brute force her way to the toys.
Closeup of the eroded ice ball with Zoey crouched beside it playing with her cement mixer.
Zoey playing beside the ice ball and gathered up the ice fragments with the broken cement mixer.
Closeup of the metal bowl with ice and water at the bottom of it. Ada stands behind it and is using a play ice cream scoop to stir the pot.
The ice was gathered up and put into the emptied metal bowl. Ada ‘cooked’ with it while getting Zoey to gather more ice for her.

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.

A long plastic holey basket is held tipped over a large yogurt container with soapy water inside. The plastic container holds plastic animals and you can see some of them already in the soapy water below.
Pouring plastic toys into the soapy water. After dropping the plastic toys in I finished filling it to the top with water before putting the lid on and throwing it in the freezer to wait for it to get hot outside.
Ada sitting on the fake grass with the container of ice between her legs. She's reaching into the container to play with the frozen bubbles. Zoey crouches beside her and is reaching into the container.
The kids loved the snow on top of the ice.
Zoey's foot off to the side shows her getting into the pool. To the right Ada is crouched over holding the upside down container dropping the ice into the pool.
It was warm enough for our pool and I told the kids to dump the ice in.
Zoey sitting on the edge with a foot on the ice underwater. Ada crouches next to it with both hands on the ice.
They had fun playing with the ice in the pool and freeing the animals.
View of the empty pool and the fake grass behind. There's a pile of plastic animals in the pool and another pile on the grass behind.
The freed animals! Once the kids were done playing and ready to go in I had them gather the plastic animals up so I could freeze them again.

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.

View of the empty yogurt container half filled with blue water and with two animals floating in it. Off to the side is the blue food dye and more plastic animals on the counter.
I started by dumping half the animals into the container and filled it halfway full with water and added blue food dye.
Container of solid blue ice with animals inside it to the right. The left shows the container lid. Behind both are the plastic animals and a bottle of red dye.
Once the blue froze solid I added the rest of the animals, water, and red food dye.
Open container showing toys in red water. There's a spoon handle sticking out and the water is shimmery.
I stirred it all together, pushed the lid back on, and put it back in the freezer where it sat for a couple weeks waiting until the weather got hot again.

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.

Open container showing the frozen ice pieces and block of red-hued water containing a crocodile and other various plastic animals.
The frozen container of dyed water and plastic animals. You can see the snow on top.
The bottom of the photo shows the upside down container and a part of Ada's skirt. The bin takes up most of the photo with the upside down ice centered inside.
I placed the container upside down in the bin before pulling it off of the ice dramatically.
Ada trying to pick up the ice while Zoey touches it. You can see the bin around the cylinder ice. The animals float within the ice and the color shine through from the center.
The food dye seemed to have moved into the center as each section froze making the outside transparent. I love how it looks.
The ice cylinder with the animals sticking out and some scattered around it. The edges of the bin are filled with mostly red-dyed water making it appear pink.
The kids focused on the side with the red food dye so as the ice melted the water around it appeared red (or in Ada’s words pink).
Overhead view of the bin showing the frozen chunk of ice in the center with plastic animals partially stuck within. The freed animals are scattered around with the purple-hued water to the right and rocks, mostly, to the left.
At some point rocks joined the animals and water though I’m not sure why. At this point the kids stopped playing and I took a quick picture before leaving it outside to melt just in case they wanted to check on it later. I love how the red turned more purple as the ratio of red to blue changed in the water. Other times I would’ve tossed the leftover ice back in the container along with the freed toys, added water, and refroze it. Looking back now I’m curious whether the ball of ice would’ve stay frozen in the center while the new water froze around it or if it would’ve fully thawed, and leak it’s color, while the outer ice 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.

The photo is a closeup of the cookie sheet. On the sheet rests six plastic cups filled with blue dye, on the left, red dye, middle, and yellow dye, the two on the right. Inside each is a plastic animal: centipede, frog, and praying mantis.
To freeze I put all of the cups on a cookie sheet and slipped it into the freezer. I used the cookie sheet to help keep the cups level as they froze and to catch any spilled water so it would be easier to clean. Once these froze I moved them, individually, to another spot in the freezer and took the cookie sheet out.
Closeup of part of an outdoor table with the six colored cups lined up. Zoey is closer to the camera holding the red ice cup while Ada is furthest away getting the blue ice out of the cup.
The kids loved the bright colors and started out with the challenge of how to get them out of the cups (hint they just had to wait for it to warm up and start thawing).
Overview of Ada sitting of fake grass with two buckets of water on either side. She has the filled blue and yellow cup near her leg and the emptied red cup on the other side. She is holding the red ice right above the water in the smaller blue bucket.
I told the kids they could put them together to make new colors and so they asked for buckets of water. They then thawed the ice out using the water to help.
Cookie sheet showing the remnants from before and two new cups with plastic toys. The white cups show the bugs and some of the leftover colored water and un-melted ice.
Once they were done I gathered up the cups, toys, and any remaining ice to freeze again for later. I also grabbed two plastic cups and threw in a couple of toys to surprise them with for the next time.
Another view of the same cookie sheet after all the items were pushed, gently, to one side so the ziploc bag could fit.
I had a used, but mostly clean, freezer bag on the counter that seemed a shame to throw out so I also grabbed that, along with some more toys, to create another surprise. I carefully slid the cookie sheet with all these items into the freezer to freeze.
Overview of the cookie sheet on the kitchen table. There's ice frozen to it and the kids are leaned over it picking the ice off to play with.
Later, after they froze, I moved the cups over in the freezer as they couldn’t spill anymore. The freezer bag had a small hole so it leaked water until the hole was frozen closed so there was a lot of ice frozen to the cookie sheet (and not loose in my freezer!) that the kids enjoyed picking off and playing with, momentarily, at the table.
Overview of the three large sand pails filled with clear water. Zoey's standing beside one holding her rec cup while the other red cup floats in the red pail. Ada stands beside them hovering over the upside down bin with the frozen cups and placing one into the blue bin.
Later, when the cups came out of the freezer, the kids had fun dropping them into buckets of water and watching them melt.
Closeup of Ada holding a plastic cup with orange water in it. Beside it, on the table underneath, lies a freed frog and centipede beside another frog and centipede in a cup of orange water.
Ada ended up making orange at one point by mixing red and yellow together.

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.

Zoey sitting at the table with a yellow bin full of soapy water in front of her. Beside the bin rests the emptied cups and plastic toys ready to be washed.
Set them up with a bin or bucket with soapy water so they can wash the toys for you. A scrubby brush or washcloth helps complete the sensory bin. And worst case they get bored and you can simply soak the toys before dumping out the water.

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.

Overview of the table showing the kids arms holding washcloths. Zoey is visible with a single arm holding a washcloth. To the right Ada sits holding onto two washcloths. All the washcloths are folded over and frozen in place.
Zoey holding onto a white frozen washcloth while Ada starts feeling out the other two.

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.

The kids, and I, testing frozen oobleck for Ada’s science themed birthday party last year. Image taken from this previous blog post.

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?

Plate showing a barely based food topped with a fried egg on the right and two piles (cottage cheese and the blended applesauce) on the left.
The photo I saved of the kids version of this looked too blurry to share to I’m sharing the adult version instead. I reheated a mixture of spinach, barley, and bacon leftovers and topped it with an egg. I then added cottage cheese and the blended applesauce on the side. The kids got this without the egg, as they refused that part, and a bit more finger food. They had the option of eating it all separately or mixing it as they’d like.
Pouring the applesauce and frozen fruit mixture from the blender into the jellybean shaped silicon moulds.
With the leftovers I grabbed an ice cube tray and silicon Jelly Belly mould and filled them up, as much as I could, before putting them in the freezer.
The stack of ice cube trays sitting in the freezer. Top is the jellybean mould, then the closed top ice cube tray, and then finally two white plastic moulds with oobleck frozen inside.
The moulds sitting in the freezer on top of an ice cube tray of frozen oobleck (the pink underneath).

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.

Showing my tall cup, cut off, and two small glass cups all with transparent water and floating frozen fruit.
Mixed the kids and I a drink with water and a mixture of frozen strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Currently, I’m drinking water with some lemon juice and a mix of frozen strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple. Feel free to explore based on what you have available. You can drink down the water and top it up, keeping the fruit in the cup to flavor it, or eat the fruit when you get to the bottom. Either way it’s delicious.

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.

Overview of two plastic cups sitting on the brickwork outside filled with frozen watermelon and topped up with water. Ada's hand is about to grab the pink cup.
I started by putting frozen watermelon into plastic cups for the kids to eat outside and then thought they might be thirsty so I combined the two ideas so it would be simpler to clean up later.

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.

I drizzled melted chocolate (in the microwave at 50% power for a minute at a time and then stirred) over the frozen watermelon and then sprinkled it with fine salt. Next time I’m going to try to move faster so the salt can stick to the chocolate before it hardens.
I had extra chocolate so I spread out some of my frozen blueberries and cut up strawberries on a silpat lined cookie sheet and then drizzled the rest of the chocolate overtop. I also sprinkled a bit of salt. After trying some I broke it up, before it could thaw and get tacky, and threw most of them in a freezer bag ready to be doled out in smaller amounts.

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.

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