Painting the Snow – an awesome outdoor winter activity for kids of all ages!

Painting the snow with tempera paints! An amazing outdoor winter activity for kids of all ages. It’s hard to say who will have more fun with this – the kids or the grow ups!

I’m sure you’ve heard of others painting the snow with spray bottles and food colouring.  Maybe you’ve even seen our indoor activity where we’ve coloured the snow with liquid watercolours.  We’ve tried the squirt bottle thing outside before, but soggy mitts and frozen fingers aren’t a great combo, and maybe I’ve just been skimpy with the food colouring, but we have to pump the trigger a bazillion times to get a decent amount of colour onto the snow.

Today I decided to try something new!  We actually PAINTED the snow!   With real PAINT!

painting the snow with tempera paints - happy hooligans

Check it out!  what a great way to get creative in the snow on a sunny winter day!

painting the snow with green and red paint

I had no idea how, or even IF, this would work when I thought of it, so I was thrilled when it was an instant success, and I’m so excited to share it with you.  Are you ready?

We were really and truly painting the snow!painting snow balls

I used tempera powders to mix up 5 colours of paint.  You could use tempera liquid paints, or any kind of paint really.  I chose our tempera paints because they’re washable, and I didn’t want any staining on the snow-pants and winter coats.

I drew 3 rectangles in the snow to serve as canvases for the hooligans, and called them over.  You can probably imagine how excited they were to get started.  Meanwhile, I was crossing my fingers, hoping for half-decent results.

painting letters in the snow

Oh my goodness!

painting the snow with tempera paints

This was SUCH a cool activity!  The snow was soft but kind of crunchy on top, and it absorbed the paint beautifully!  I really hadn’t imagined that this would be so awesome.

I tried my hand at it, and was surprised by how light of a touch was needed to keep the paint on the surface of the snow.

butterfly painted in the snow

The kids had already mastered the technique quickly, and they moved all around the yard and garden adding splashes of colour wherever they went.


They splattered,splatter painting on the snow

and painted footprints.painting footprints in the snow

They painted snowballspainting snow balls

and they collaborated to create a “candy mountain”.

painting the snow - happy hooligans

And they were at it for over an hour.IMG_1036

It was a wonderful way to get creative in the snow, and I suspect that painting the snow will become a regular winter activity around here!



  1. says

    I keep forgetting to buy spray bottles for snow painting, now we don’t even have to go to the store! Thanks for the inspiration- now all we need is more snow!

    • happyhooligans says

      If you use a paint that is washable, it shouldn’t. That’s why we used Tempera paint. It washes right out. If you were to use any other type of paint, you would want to know before hand if it can be washed out of fabric once it sets in.

      • New Pre-k Teacher says

        Wow. Thanks for your quick response. Id hate to send my little ones back home with stained and expensive winter clothes.

      • happyhooligans says

        No problem! And I hear you. I don’t worry too much about paint and staining on their every day clothes, because my parents know we get messy, and don’t send their children in anything that can’t take a stain or two, but when it came to their jackets and snow pants, I didn’t want to risk the possibility of staining so we went with the Tempera.

    • happyhooligans says

      Hope you get some snow soon, Jessica! Ours has all melted now, and I can’t wait to get more. This was a really fun activity!

    • New Pre-k Teacher says

      I tried out this idea. I think the consistency of the paint is important or perhaps the state of the snow. Our snow was not melting as it appears in the pictures but was somewhat packed down. The snow stuck to the paintbrushes which made it impossible for even
      myself to paint a line. Also I anticipated
      messy hands or clothes so I brought wet
      wipes. What a lifesaver!

      • happyhooligans says

        Our paints were very “wet”, as you might be able to see in the photo of the paint dripping onto the blue snowball. We used tempera powders which can be mixed to the consistency that you like. Were your paints quite thick? I’m thinking that if they were, that might be what the problem was when you tried it. If they were water-based paints could you try diluting them a bit if you were going to try this again?

      • Jean Gooch says

        This didn’t work that well for me. I did this activity yesterday and the snow also stuck to the brush. It was frustrating. What are your suggestions for it to work better?

      • happyhooligans says

        Sounds like your snow was too light and fluffy. A crusty snow works best, or at least a packing snow that has quite a bit of moisture in it. It does require a light touch, but I think the biggest problem was your snow was too fluffy.

  2. Marilyn Kok says

    This is such a fun activity for kids & big people too. I love tempera powder paint mixture to paint the snow. Ty for sharing this awesome activity. The kidlets are so into the activity. :-)

  3. says

    Will have to try this great idea. Another idea along the idea of spray bottles that might be easier is squirty washing up bottles that you just squeeze.

    • happyhooligans says

      Tempera paints are actually non-toxic and one of the more environmentally friendly paints out there, which is one of the reasons that they’re popular paints for young children.

  4. says

    I love this – can’t wait for snow to give it a try again this year.

    Thank you for linking up to Tuesday Tots last week and just letting you know that I will be featuring this over on Rainy Day Mum this week.

  5. joy says

    We are always looking for outside, winter activities that keep snow from being thrown so this was GREAT..all ages (K-6) were involved. We do get LOTS of snow in NH. Thanks again for a great activity. JLK,

  6. Sally says

    Such a great idea! It is finally nice enough to get outside and play, I will be bringing this to the boys I nanny! They will love it! Our snow is melting so I think it’s a great last hoorah before it all goes away and we welcome spring! Love your site – have been using so many great ideas for all the kids i watch in my neighborhood.

    Thank you for sharing these amazing ideas they have helped me on so many frustrating and boring days!

    • happyhooligans says

      Yay for spring! It’s been such a long winter, hasn’t it, Sally? The snow is starting to melt here, but we have a LOT to get rid of! Hope you have fun painting yours! I’m so glad we’ve helped you entertain your hooligans with our ideas, Sally!

  7. Shayne says

    Great idea! I hope to try this with my pre-kindergartners if we ever get snow. What part of Ontario are you in?

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m about an hour east of Toronto. We had a little blizzard yesterday afternoon, but it turned to rain overnight, and anything that accumulated is pretty much gone now.

  8. Shayne says

    I used to live an hour west of Toronto. Love Ontario! I also love your stuff!! I pin ideas all the time. Thank you!

  9. Karen says

    You can also make a lot of types of paint with flour, water, cornstarch, and food colouring which would be more natural for the earth. Old dish soap bottles would be great for squirting the paint.

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