When snow days or freezing temperatures make it impossible to get out to play in the snow, a snowy sensory bin is a fun indoor winter activity for toddlers and preschoolers.
Goodness knows this has been a long, cold winter! Temperatures in the -20s and even -30s have made it difficult to get out and play in the snow for any length of time. If you’re like me, you’ve had enough! It’s tricky to keep coming up with indoor winter activities for your toddler, isn’t it? Especially when they’ve grown tired being inside, and they just want to play in the snow.
Well, here’s a solution for you:
When it’s too cold to play outside, bring the snow inside!
Find your container:
For smaller activities like our “snow and watercolours” activity, a baking dish or cookie tray will do, but for larger set-ups like this one and our Snowy Construction Bin, a shallow storage container is best.
Supplies and materials to make our Diamond Dig sensory bin:
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- large, shallow storage container
- scoops, ladles, spoons
- plastic gems and jewels (I got mine in the craft section of the dollar store)
- bowl(s) of warm water
- cloths or hand towels (for drying hands as they play)
- plastic table cloth (to protect your floor or table)
Easy so far, right?
Pulling your snowy sensory bin together:
Fill up your container with snow, and toss in the gems and jewels. Give it a good stir, burying most of the “diamonds” so the kids will have to work to find them.
I set my bin on the floor and placed a couple of bowls of water beside it. I’d intended for this to be a place to simply rinse off their “diamonds” as they un-earthed them, but they had other plans.
After dropping a few jewels into the bowls, they discovered that it was much more fun to scoop heaping spoonfuls of snow into their bowls. They would stir the snow around until it melted, and then they’d fill it up again.
As the water grew colder, the melting slowed down, and they noticed that the snow became “sticky”, and eventually turned to slush.
At one point, we turned the large, wet clump of snow over, and we were surprised to see that there was no water in the bottom of the bowl.
I explained how the snow had absorbed the water like a sponge, and they felt it, and observed that it was quite icy. All of the jewels that had been in the bottom of the bowl were embedded in the ice, and they picked and pried those out.
When most of the diamonds had been found, I brought out the farm animals, and little people, and they enjoyed some snowy small world play while I prepared lunch.
If you make a snowy sensory bin for your hooligans, I’d love it if you’d share a photo and the details on my Happy Hooligans Facebook page! It doesn’t look like winter will be over any time soon, and I’m sure we’ll all be looking for fun indoor winter play ideas for a while yet!
If you liked this activity, check out these sensory bins. They’ve been known to keep the hooligans entertained for hours:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.