During these dog days of summer, when there’s really no other word to describe the heat but “blergh,” we parents have to think way beyond the sprinklers and water balloons that we’ve been relying on to keep our kids cool (and occupied). It’s time to seriously up the ante with summer ice activities. And when we started looking around, we found some really creative, smart ideas.

They’re science-y, pretty to look at, fun to play with, easy to clean up, and — importantly — chilly to the touch. Let’s do this.

At top: Go Fish Water Play | Let Them Be Little

Related: The coolest summer water activities for the backyard

Summer ice activities: Ice Bowling by Learn Play Imagine

Ooh, this ice bowling idea from Learn Play Imagine is sure to score. (Sorry.) Everything about it is learning in disguise — making the materials, rolling the ball, counting the pins — and kids will be too busy having fun to realize it. Click over to see this game in action.

Summer ice activities: Ice Chalk by Reading Confetti

Forget frying an egg on the sidewalk (but were you really planning on doing that anyway?). Here’s a summer ice activity you may actually want to try. Reading Confetti’s ice chalk is a much prettier, way more palatable way to make the most of the sizzling cement. Be sure to click over to the site, because there are seven other variations of this idea that look, in a word, refreshing.

Summer ice activities: Ice Paint by Easy Peasy and Fun

You can take the steamy sidewalk out of the equation altogether and use regular paper for a canvas too, like Easy Peasy and Fun did with these fun ice paints. Click over for the easy peasy recipe; you’ll be happy to know all the ingredients are edible, just in case you’re worried about little ones deciding that their paints are actual popsicles.

Related: Creative pool games that go way beyond Marco Polo 

Summer ice activities: Ice Castles by Kids Activities Blog
aficionados know that every season is the right season for ice castles. The whizzes at Kids Activities Blog know it too, and came up with an awesome way to build one, even…in summmmmer! (Be glad you couldn’t hear me sing that last part.)

Summer ice activities: Go Fish Game by Let Them Be Little
Let Them Be Little’s “go fish” game (also at top) is a super clever way for kids to have fun with ice, and work on some motor skills while they’re at it (click over to the site to see how). And I guarantee you already have every ingredient you need at home; Meagan says that you don’t even have to buy specially shaped ice molds to pull this one off. Cool!

Related: 20+ backyard party ideas: Host the best summer party on your block.

Summer ice activities: Ice Volcano by The Growing Room

When it comes to summer ice activities, you can’t ever go wrong with science. Ice experiments are about so much more than heat plus ice equals puddle, as The Growing Room’s ice volcano proves. This looks like it has all the wonder of science class volcanoes, but with a colorful, fizzy twist that you can only get at home. (Also, not being graded on it as a plus.) Check out the directions over at the site to see how to pull this one off.

Summer ice activities: Ice Boat Racing by Toddler Approved
Toddler Approved has the cutest idea for making the most of outdoor melt: Help the kids design, make, and decorate their own ice boats, and then put them to the test on an adorable, slippery slope. Click over for the materials you’ll need and then, let the races begin!