This is going to be a super quick post were we teach you a really easy method to make a whole lot of frozen little excavations at once. All you need is an ice tray and some fun little items to excavate that will fit in each cube compartment.
These little excavations are so easy to make you are going to be looking for excuses to get a bunch of excavating adventurers together so they can enjoy your ice cube tray excavations. 
Fun facts: The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is almost three miles thick. Cliffs made of ice in Antarctica can be up to 160 feet high.
  • Ice trays
  • Excavation tools. I suggest using a cooking syringe, pipet, or turkey baster. 
  • Safety goggles.
  • Tray or bin to capture the water from the melting ice. 
  • Small items to excavate that will fit in the ice tray you chose to use.
  • Ice cube trays. 
  • Bowl with warm water.
  • Salt - little individual salt packets from restaurants work well.
  • Optional - Food coloring. This will make your ice cube tray excavations even cooler... no pun intended! Be sure to only use a small amount as the food coloring can stain cloths and dye hands. 

Pro tip: You can use almost anything as the items to excavate as long as they will fit in the tray. Little plastic winter animals are a cool option that align with the frozen ice theme.

Pro tip: Go ice fishing! Simply provide each excavating adventurer with a piece of yarn or string. Instruct them to lay the yarn over the ice and sprinkle it with salt. After a few moments, the string will freeze to the ice and the ice cube can be lifted up from the tray. 


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  1. Put your items to excavate in the ice tray.
  2. Optional - add a drop of food coloring to the water.
  3. Fill the trays with water. Be aware that the little plastic items may try to float but this is not an issue for concern. 
  4. Set the Ice Cube Tray Excavation in the freezer for a few hours and allow to freeze solid.

Pro tip: Here is a really cool option when choosing what to include in the Ice Cube Tray Excavations. Purchase a bag of assorted tumbled stones online. These are a lot of fun to discover in the excavations and the moisture from the excavation process make them shine beautifully. The tumbled stones may come with an identification sheet or your can print one from online to add an educational component to this activity. 

Now the Ice Cube Tray Excavations are ready to be enjoyed. Find an area that is easy to clean up, distribute the safety goggles and excavation tools, and let the excavating begin. Provide a bowl of warm water and instruct the excavating adventurers on how to use the syringe, pipets, or turkey baster. Instruct them to put small amounts of salt on the ice to speed up the melting process. 

Pro tip: There are many silicon trays that come in about every shape you can image. Choose a try that matches the theme for your excavation items. Not only will your ice excavations look cool, but the silicon trays are very easy to remove the ice cubes. 

I hope you enjoyed this super quick tutorial and enjoy creating and sharing the Ice Cube Tray Excavations. These excavations are very easy to make, inexpensive, and a lot of fun!
Pro tip: Use this activity to create some excitement around discussions or lessons regarding cold weather animals, winter, glaciers, and the environment.
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Happy Excavating!