I love the ideas on the web about freezing objects for kids to try to "free" from the ice. So, I took a plastic bowl, some plastic fish and water creatures, and added water to freeze the creatures in. I did the freezing in two layers because the creatures sunk to the bottom of the bowl. After freezing overnight, I loosened the ice, and took it outside with a bowl of water and a pipette.
Although the dog is disinterested in the whole process, E was very into it. She started out using the pipette to try to melt the ice.
Then, she began sliding the ice around to use the heat of the patio to help her.
Couldn't resist this shot...
And finally, she figured out that the busting the ice method was the quickest and most fun way to free the fish. We have done this activity many times since this. I like that it helps with her problem solving skills. And, it was meant to help with those fine motor skills, even though in actuality it probably ended up being more of a gross motor skill activity.