Freezing Nature’s Beauty – Take advantage of the cold and make frozen sun catchers

How to Make Nature-Filled Ice Ornaments

You’ll find instructional photos and a video below.  This craft is very simple and straight forward.

  1. Fill a container with natural treasures
  2. Add water
  3. Freeze
  4. Pop out of the container and hang outside

Do you need extra motivation to get your kids outside when the temperature drops below freezing?  Perhaps these ice ornaments will be just the thing to get you and your kids outside.  These ice sun catchers can be made with a variety of items, are interesting to look at, and sparkle beautifully in the sun.  Plus, they are super easy to make- winter did most of the work for us!

a toddler's hand making frozen sun catchers

Supplies you’ll need for ice suncatchers:

  • Container to freeze the water in (aluminum pie plate, cake pans, or regular plastic food storage containers, used margarine, ice cream, or yogurt tubs)
  • Nature treasures (twigs, leaves, berries, pine cones)
  • Water
  • Something to Hang them with (standard kitchen twine, yarn, ribbon)
  • Drill (optional)
  • Freezer space or freezing temperatures
The process of making frozen sun catchers: a small girl placing twigs and berries, using a drill to put a hole in the frozen ornament, two finished ice ornaments hanging in a tree

Directions – how to make these frozen ice suncatchers:

1. Collect your nature treasures

Have your little ones hunt out some interesting nature treasures.  Maybe you’ve already collected some on another walk that you could use today? 

Items that look beautiful in an ice suncatcher: leaves, berries, grasses, pine needles, twigs, seeds, and citrus slices.

2. Gather your other supplies

Make sure you have a few containers that you can freeze and fill.

Some items around the house that can work for this: muffin, pie, cake pans, aluminum plate/dishes, empty yogurt/ice cream containers.

A note from experience: We have had the bottom of our plastic containers crack when doing this activity. So, you may not want to use anything plastic or glass that you would be upset if it broke.

3. Arrange your treasures

Place whatever items you want into your freezing containers. When you add water they’ll move around so don’t worry too much about placement.

Optional: Add a ribbon or string through the container if you want to try this hanging method.

4. Add water

Pour water into your containers and push any items down into the water if they’ve floated to the surface.

pouring water into a tray to make frozen ice sun catchers

Ice clarity: I have never had a problem where I felt my ice looked overly cloudy. I have read that some people will boil their water first or use hot water to prevent the cloudiness. I’ve also read about people using filtered or distilled water. Maybe experiment first with your particular water to see what works best for clarity if you have strong feelings about water clarity.

5. Freeze

Leave this outside overnight or pop it into the freezer if it’s not cold enough.

6. Pop them out after they’re frozen solid

Once the disk is frozen, pry your ice ornament out of the container.  Use your drill to make a hanging hole (not too close to the edge) and hang your ice sun catcher in a spot where you can enjoy it sparkling in the sun.

Using a drill to make holes for hanging the frozen ice ornaments

A few ice ornament notes:

The first time I made these I tried to freeze the hanging string into the disks.  It did work, but I found the string melted out quickly.  I have also seen others wrap a ribbon around the outside of the disk, but I haven’t tried this myself.

If you are going to drill a hole in your ornament, the further you go towards the center, the more time it will take that string to melt through the edge.

If you actually hang them in the shade they’ll last longer, but then they won’t actually be sun catchers!

Our frozen sun catchers hanging in the trees

Turn your ice sun catchers into a backyard science experiment!

This activity is a good opportunity to do some controlled freezing experiments with different waters.

Ice experiment suggestions:

  • cold water,
  • hot water,
  • water that’s been boiled, filtered, or distilled first.

The kids could even experiment to see if different items cause the ice to melt faster or slower… or the location of the ornaments.

Homeschool Mom Tip: Just make sure to label them so you remember later!

You could also do ice experiments and make these festive ice lanterns instead of the hanging ornaments.

You can make ice ornaments that the birds can enjoy too. 

Try adding fruit, berries, and nuts. The birds will have treats to snack on as the ornaments melt in the sun.

Other suncatcher add-ins:

I tend to only put natural items in the ornaments because when they melt, everything will fall to the ground and I don’t want small pieces of plastic littering the ground.  I have seen people add glitter, ribbons, and beads and they all look lovely.

Here’s a photo from Twig and Toadstool  who did a variation of this frozen sun catcher craft.  I really like how they are each a different color.  Check out their page to learn how their ice sun catchers were made.

An easy winter craft are frozen ice sun catchers
Rainbow Frozen Sun Catchers from Twig and Toadstool

frozen ice sun catchers hanging from a tree

9 thoughts on “Freezing Nature’s Beauty – Take advantage of the cold and make frozen sun catchers”

  1. Pingback: Fun Outdoor Winter Activities - A Little Craft In Your Day

    1. Hi Rumana, Thanks for your comment. I agree, they really are lovely… although, I don’t know how sad I’d be if I lived somewhere a tad bit warmer;)

    1. Hi Julie, Yes, my little really enjoyed making them. You can see her little helping hands in the video. But, you’re right, kids and adults love these!
      … I think the kids like making them and I like admiring them all finished hanging in the trees!

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