Ever wondered what to do with those fun puffy peanuts you get in packages? We were inspired by prekinders.com to set up this melting snowmen activity, but we added an extra STEM twist by using some of our favorite Learning Resources scientific tools and turning it into an investigation.

Materials needed:

The Set Up

I love using these simple lunch trays from Dollar Tree for little investigations like this. I put out the tools, small bowls (two filled with water) and the large bowl on the tray. This helps to keep the materials neatly organized and gives the child a defined work space. To turn the packing peanuts into little snowmen I used acrylic paint markers to draw on the eyes, nose, scarf and buttons. They turned out pretty cute! I then put the snowmen in the third bowl on the tray.

How the Activity Works

I invited my 3 yr old to come and have a look at what was on the tray. Her first reaction was to fuss over how cute and little the snowmen were! She was very intrigued by them. I then asked a very simple question to start the investigation. I asked her whether she thought that adding water to the snowmen would make them melt or not. She went back and forth on her answer, at one point wondering if they might actually float on the water. She finally decided that she thought they would melt.

It was time to find out if she was right. She took her first snowman and put it in the big bowl. She then used the dropper to gradually add water. She got so excited when the snowman began to melt! It started as little holes but soon enough the markings were floating in the water and the snowman was a pile of mush!

I encouraged her to use the magnifying glass to take a closer look at the snowman and I asked her to describe what she could see. Even though she is only 3, I think it is such a great opportunity to encourage her to develop basic scientific language through play activities like this. She was also exploring lots of great sensory vocabulary as well.

She proceeded to add more of the snowmen to the bowl, also adding more and more water each time. She enjoyed using the Jumbo Tweezers to try and pick up parts of the snowmen. She kept apologizing to them each time they fell apart in her grasp!

This was a great activity for working her fine motor skills, as well as her sensory exploration. She was constantly using the tools to transfer the water and pick up the melted snowmen. Strengthening those little hand muscles through hands-on learning like this is such a great way to prepare your child for writing, without them even realizing it.

She spent ages at the end trying to salvage tiny parts of the snowmen, pouring water from bowl to bowl. Transfer activities have always appealed to her, but the added intrigue of the melting snowmen gave this a really fun scientific twist. We are looking forward to doing it again but next time I will ask her to try and draw her own little snowmen as well.