Get Outdoors and Skate...in Your Socks!

Liz Leahey
December 19, 2017
two young children "skate" on a smooth white surface in their socks

Set a kid wearing socks on a slippery floor and inevitably, sock skating will follow. This is proving true at the Discovery Museum, where our outdoor sock-skating rink is encouraging children—and parents and grandparents—to slip, slide, and spin, across the “ice.”

At the Discovery Museum, we want kids to play outside year round, even when the temperatures start to drop. We’re always looking for creative new ways to coax kids into the cold weather. This year, inspired by similar setups elsewhere, we constructed 360-square-foot elevated sock-skating rink outside the museum. 

The rink itself is made out of interlocking floor tiles designed for dryland ice-hockey practice. We wanted the whole experience to have the look and feel of an actual ice skating rink. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite provides the background music and a pine bough garland surrounding the rink sets the wintery ambiance.

So far, it’s not just kids venturing onto the ice. Grownups too are channeling their inner kitchen-floor figure skaters. I’ve seen a mother performing ice ballet with her daughter; kids sitting on top of mom while dad pulls the “mom sled”; and a grandmother gliding across the ice with her grandson.

Like a lot of what we do at the museum, the sock skating rink demonstrates that kids don’t need complicated gadgets for entertainment. A pair of socks and a place to slide is just enough for families to get outside to play together.  

woman standing outside, trees in the background
Liz Leahey

As the Assistant Director of Learning Experiences, I get to organize, design and facilitate unique and hands-on science, engineering and art-based activities for our visitors. And, I get to do this alongside some other wonderfully creative folks in our Education Department. As I walk around our campus, I love overhearing the peals of laughter, squeals of excitement, and “oohs” and “ahhs” of a new discovery. These moments often make me pause to marvel in the innate creativity, curiosity and ingenuity of children—and just how important our work here is, providing spaces and experiences for children and their adults to learn and grow together. 

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We firmly believe in the fundamental value of play for children—and families—to support emotional, developmental, and social health and well-being. This blog will explore why play matters, and touch on all aspects of our work to encourage play and support early STEM learning.