Build a Snowman Activity Tray

If you’re looking for snowman activities for toddlers and preschoolers, I have a bunch, but I think my favourite is this simple snowman activity tray.

Kids can build their own snowmen from scratch over and over again, switching up the parts and accessories each time.  It’s a great fine motor activity, and a wonderful way to put in a cold, snowy.   Just see how they respond when you sing out “Hey kids!  Do you want to build a snowman?”
Snowman activity tray

Over the weekend, I put together our snowman activity tray for the hooligans, and I couldn’t wait for then to get here this morning to try it out!

The idea for this activity came to me Friday afternoon, when a reader commented on the black bean “eyes” on the toilet roll snowmen we made a few years ago.

I  got thinking about those adorable snowmen which were made with tp rolls, beans, buttons and fabric scraps, and soon enough I was raiding my craft cupboards for bits and pieces that I could make a snowman activity with.

child building a snowman on a table top with craft scraps


I love how and open-ended this activity is, and how creative the kids can get with it.  No matter how many times they play with it, their creations are different every time.  It reminds me of Mr. Potato Head that way; the parts are always the same, but the possibilities are endless depending on how you mix and match them.

Ok!  Let’s put this activity together for YOUR kids, and then I’ll show you the fun that the hooligans had with ours.

What I used to make my snowman activity tray:

supplies for snowman activity tray

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I placed all of the snowman parts into the tray, and set it on the table along with several styrofoam meat trays (always sterilize your meat trays in the dishwasher before using them for crafting or play).  I also placed a thin fleece blanket on the table.   It had a kind of “felt board” effect, and kept the pieces from sliding around.


The oldest chose to work within the defined frame of the styrofoam tray,

craft scraps snowman in a styrofoam tray


while the youngest preferred working directly on the table-top.

fine motor snowman activity

The middle hooligan loved simply collecting all of the bits and pieces and stacking and piling them in her tray. I love that she chose to explore and experiment with the pieces rather than build an actual snowman.

stacking and piling items from the snowman activity tray

There were so many choices to make when it came to colours, shapes and patterns so the girls really got to exercise their decision-making skills!

indoor snowman building activity

For the youngest hooligans, there was much experimenting with the placement of their shapes; learning how to stack their snowballs, and where to place their snowman’s clothing and features.  For the preschooler, it was more about “styling” her snowman, and creating different looks with the various buttons, hats and scarves.

snowman building indoor activity

This snowman activity also tests fine-motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.  Picking up and manipulating tiny objects like the buttons, beans and twigs in our tray are great ways to develop those skills.

This really was a huge hit here.  The girls played with it off and on all morning.  It’s a great indoor winter activity, and a fun way to keep the kids entertained AND learning.  Let us know if you try this at your place!  Better yet, share a picture on my Facebook wall if you do!

snowman parts on a fleece blanket

You can find all of our easy and inexpensive Christmas crafts and activities on my Hooligans Xmas pinboard!

Christmas - pinterest

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  1. says

    Genius idea! And the snow men came out ADORABLE! Projects like these make me wish the kids were a little older. The snowman’s eyes look like black tic tacos to me and my almost 2 year old son and niece would have gobbled them up lol!

    Came across your post from the Kid Blogger Network Pinterest board :)

  2. Debbie Henry says

    I love this idea. I am putting one together this weekend and we will do it next week in my daycare. My group changes from day to day so I like that the kidlets can do something different each day and the ones who only comepart time don’t get left out. I love your page and since I started following it las year I look forward to every new post.

    • happyhooligans says

      I might, Beth. For now we’re just going to play with the activity for a few weeks. You certainly COULD turn it into a craft when you’re finished with it though!

  3. Cindy says

    I loved seeing this idea presented as an activity rather than a craft! Teachers tend to lose sight of what it means to implement open-ended activities in their classrooms. Any variety of decorations/supplies can be made available for children to choose from to decorate their snowmen over and over again. A digital camera could be used to “preserve” their work if so desired.

  4. Kathy Hancock says

    I just came across your blog. Yeah, I love your ideas!!! Thanks for being so creative. I will use your ideas for the grand kids, Sunday School and our Kid’s Night Out at church!

    • happyhooligans says

      Yay! So glad you’ve found us, Kathy, and happy to have you following along! I can’t believe how many Grandparents I have following now. You’re such a crafty lot! Your grand babies are blessed to have you! x

  5. Laura says

    Love the snowmen! I’m going to save the idea for January. Can’t do all of your neat projects, but the ones we do turn out so well. My seven and three year old both have fun with them. My 19 month old will be getting in on the fun soon too. It was so fun to see the popsicle Christmas trees from last year when we pulled out the decorations. The circle rainbows we made for St. Patrick’s Day are still hanging up! Love your blog Jackie, I probably look at the pictures more than read through everything. You may have mentioned this before, but I’m interested in the plastic chip dip trays you use. Where do you purchase them? I can’t seem to find ones that are so durable. Thanks.

    • happyhooligans says

      Great idea waiting until January for this one, Laura. I think I picked up those sectioned trays at a thrift shop one time. You can get them at the dollar stores. Those aren’t terribly durable, but tupperware and rubbermaid make much more durable ones.

    • happyhooligans says

      I have a foam snowman kit that I took some of the hats from. I used one as a template to cut more from foam pieces. One of the scarves is from the kit as well, but most were just scraps of fabric or ribbon that I tied a knot in, Stephanie. Glad you liked the activity!

  6. says

    Oh, this is BRILLIANT! I teach preschool to homeschoolers. (Sounds strange) Yes, I have them one day a week at the Homeschool Academy in my town. Anyhow, we are a bit snowmanned-out but this will work for anything. Got tons of felt. All I need is the trays and little pieces and there we go! Thanks. (New follower / fan here)
    Sinea from Ducks ‘n a Row
    Hey, my blog hop goes live tonight (Tues 7pm EST). Stop by and share some posts?

  7. pat coleman says

    My grandson Grant loves crafts and likes to put things together and has his own ideas about various ways to change things around. I will make up a tray for him. I bought the white trays awhile back in a bundle of 100. I have all kinds of notions from various other crafts. He will have great fun with this one. I almost assure you he will glue them to have as ornaments for his tree in his room. Thanks so much.

  8. Kathy LeMay says

    what awesome idea’s you have love them & going to try all, grandkids will love this! Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. says

    I love this! I always have a craft for the kids at our annual Christmas open house. One year we decorated cookies, another year we made decorated trees out of ice cream cones. I think this is the one for this year! It’s adorable and not nearly as messy as decorating cookies with sprinkles.

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