Polar Animal Rescue

We have frozen and excavated animals before, but just a few at a time and in one block of ice, but this time we have gone big and made an icy Polar world! The two little girls have a mission to rescue the animals from the ice caps, sea and sea bed!


What you will need to make your Polar world…

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Ice (if you have it but don’t worry if you don’t)
  • Food Colouring (Green, blue and yellow)
  • Plastic animals

To excavate the animals later…

  • Salt
  • Water
  • brushes, spoons, anything really to bash them out!
  • a big bowl

and you could also use… (although we didn’t this time)

  • baking soda
  • vinegar


Simply take a selection of plastic animals, a large mixing bowl, ice (if you have it), water and food colouring and freeze in the appropriate layers. The ice is helpful to balance your animals in and wedge them upside down in the bowl so they come out the right way round. But if you don’t have any, don’t worry, just pop them in the bowl and they will float around and the children will still love rescuing them anyway. We froze ours in four layers. I did this over several days but if you are in a ‘rush’ you can probably freeze a layer every 2 hours. Alternatively you can always just use one colour and if you make it in the morning it will be ready to play with by late afternoon.

Layer 1 is the Polar ice caps. Place your animals in the bowl (we used a sea lion, polar bear and penguin – I know, technically you can’t find polar bears and penguins together, but I made that a topic of conversation later!)


Layer 2 is a thin later of green for the summer terrain. Just mix your food colouring and water for a thin layer. Here we talked about the Arctic and that it can be very green in the Summer months when much of the ice has melted (this was a really amazing fact for the girl as they thought it was icy all year round). We talked about how lots of animals come out to have their babies at this time and looked at a Polar bear on the internet relaxing in a lot of lovely purple flowers! We didn’t have anything like an arctic fox which would have been perfect here but it made a nice coloured layer.


Layer 3 is the sea. We had a lot of animals to put in this section and I included dolphins, a hammer head shark and a squid. I used a little more ice again to position the animals but could not quite get the mummy dolphin the right way round!


Layer 4 is the sea bed and we included seaweed from the Playmobil farm, crabs, a starfish and lobsters. We decided to make this yellow as we thought it might look nicer than brown but it still came out a bit muddy. I think I was a little impatient and the blue had not set properly.


A few days later I got the polar world out to surprise the girls and we began to liberate the animals. Just put the icy world into a big bowl to catch the salty water. We initially used salt, then cold water and then warm water. Let the children decide what they are going to use first and ask them to predict which will work best.



We had spoons and brushes to help us rescue the animals (you could use pipettes if you have them but we just added little cups later so the girls could scoop up the salty solution in the bottom of the bowl). We soon discovered that salt alone was quite slow. The girls opted for warm water and poured it on to get a quick result.




Salt and water together make little rivulets and we chatted briefly about how the action of water and salt can change the way rocks look over thousands of years. You can really see this action in the picture below. The littlest paid no attention to this digression but my biggest girl took it on board. I suspect she will ask me more about it in the next few weeks.


It was quite interesting to turn over the ice block and see what was happening on the bottom too.


The rescue took about 45 minutes. But on a hotter day and more warm water it would be quicker. As they predicted at the start – the penguin was the last to be set free!


They were particularly pleased when they rescued the Mummy and baby dolphin.


Enid Blyton rating: 8 of 10 (They started off working alone and were eventually persuaded to work together to release the animals. I think we would have given it a 10 had the day been hotter. The littlest was not keen on all the cold water splashes, which is unusual as she is usually the first one to get messy!).


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