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Creating a Snow and Ice Winter Sensory Bin: Activity Ideas & Tips

2013-01-18 by Melissa & Doug
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Let’s face it, kids are fascinated by snow! The more of it the better from their point of view. But, for many of us, snow isn’t something our kids get to experience and explore as much as they’d like. If you think your children would enjoy some winter sensory fun, then we suggest that you try creating your own “cool” sensory bin for some indoor snow and ice exploration! Sensory bins are the perfect activity to focus and calm children and let them truly explore with their senses . . . indoors!


Here’s how to create a snow and ice winter sensory bin:
  • Start by putting a few absorbent towels down on the play area.
  • Find a large plastic tub (see-through is better for observation, but even a large roasting pan will work.)
  • Fill the bin at least halfway with fresh snow. If it hasn’t snowed (or may never snow in your climate!) you can fill the bin with standard ice cubes, or prepare in advance by filling a few food storage containers with water and then freezing them. Just pop the ice out and into the bin. Combine big and small ice cubes to make different size “icebergs”.  For extra fun, pour a few drops of food coloring into the water before freezing. When the icebergs melt, the colors will flow together and make some beautiful “runoffs”. (If you’re using snow, you can add a few drops of food coloring to your snow as well and enjoy the same results.)
  • Add some scooping, pouring, and measuring tools to the bin such as measuring cups & spoons, sand scoops, and liquid measuring cups. Tongs are great fun too and really work those fine motor muscles!
  • Add some of your children’s favorite plastic action figures and animals.

Now…it’s time to play! Here are some activity ideas for your new sensory bin:

1) Try freezing toy frogs or bugs in each large iceberg. Then play “animal digger” who discovers the frozen remains! Use both sides of a spoon to dig away the ice and reveal the discovery of the century!

2) Add some baby carrots, buttons, and pretzel sticks or real twigs to snow, then make and decorate miniature snowmen!

Mini Snowmen Big Time Fun

3) Let play happen! There’s no need to direct play: Your children will learn, discover and be fascinated by the sensory experience.

Finally, we recommend you keep some cozy kid-size mittens close by. This play will be so fascinating that your children’s hands will need some warming up afterwards (or better, during!).

You may find that this kind of sensory play is so enjoyable to your child that you’re looking for other sensory activity ideas. Check these out, and stay tuned, because we love sharing new sensory ideas!


Melissa & Doug

Our team of play experts occasionally enjoys sharing news about our company, new product launches, and some of the #CountlessWaysToPlay with our toys, crafts, and games. At Melissa & Doug, we’re on a mission to inspire the innovators of tomorrow through kid-powered play!

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