Winter is upon us and the weather is turning downright frigid in some areas. Let’s warm up with a few winter themed sensory play activities.
Wait, what is sensory play and why is it important?
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates your child’s sense of touch, smell, taste, sight, or hearing. Hands-on learning builds cognitive skills and helps to develop abstract thought. This will aid your child in problem solving and creativity.
According to a Michigan State University study,“Early childhood educators cannot overstate the importance of sensory play in the educational process. It is the foundation of all the skills children will use in school learning to read, write and solve math and science problems. Once a child has these experiences, they are able to draw upon the body memory and cognitive memory of their experiences when faced with new situations. Further,the process of observation is a skill in and of itself. Keen observation skills give a child an advantage in school and throughout life.”
Fun Winter Sensory Play Activities
Now that we know what sensory play is and why it is important, let’s get started on some incredibly fun winter themed sensory play projects.
Sensory Play Hot Chocolate Play Dough
Nothing is quite as comforting on a frosty winter day than a cup of delicious hot chocolate. The only problem with cocoa is that once you drink it, it’s gone and there is nothing to play with.
With this sensory activity, your child will create a play dough with a chocolatey aroma that will excite their sense of smell and spur their creativity. It is also super-duper easy.
My children played with this play dough for two straight hours!
Hot Chocolate Play Dough Ingredients
- 2 Cups of Flour
- ½ Cup of Salt
- ½ Cup of Cocoa
- 3 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
- 1 ½ Cups of Boiling Water
Hot Chocolate Play Dough Directions
1. Put everything into a large bowl and mix it with a large spoon or spatula. Eventually, a ball will start to form.
2. Let the ball cool until it is just slightly warm to the touch.
3. Take the ball out and knead and stretch and roll with your hands.
4. Play, play, play! Cut the dough into different shapes, make chocolate snowmen, make houses and trees for your action figures to play in. Enjoy the great smell of cocoa and the satisfying feel of homemade play dough in squishing through your fingers.
Sensory Play Melting Snowman
I’m melting, I’m melting… In this sensory play activity, we’re going to create a snowman out of a baking soda mixture. This will be a lot of fun for your child as they will help to measure the ingredients that go into making the snowman and then use their imagination to build him.
After the snowman is built, dressed,and looking perfect, the real fun begins! We are going to do a science experiment and instantly melt our frosty friend. Your child will then get to play with the goopy mixture that was their snowman.
Sensory Play Melting Snow Man Ingredients
- 2 Cups of Baking Soda
- 2 Tablespoons of Salt
- 1 Teaspoon of Dish Soap
- ¼ Cup of Water
- Optional- beads, twigs, buttons, etc.… to decorate your snowman
Sensory Play Melting Snowman Directions
1. In a large bowl mix the baking soda and the salt together.
2. Add the dish soap and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the water a little at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
4. Once the mixture starts coming together, transfer to a plastic play bin or a large baking dish with edges.
5. Form mixture into three snowman spheres.
6. Optional- Decorate your snowman with twigs arms, button mouth, bead eyes, little orange nose etc.
7. Pour vinegar onto your snowman and watch him melt. Use a pipette or a dropper to melt slowly or pour straight from the bottle melt immediately.
What happened? A chemical reaction. When you mix a base(baking soda) to an acid (vinegar) the chemicals react and release carbon dioxide. Science rocks!
Sensory Play Arctic Snow Dough
It’s freezing, and the ground is covered in snow, but it’s too hard to get the kids all bundled up to go outside to play. They will just want to come back inside in five minutes anyway. Should we just put on a Netflix holiday movie? Not yet! Bring the snow inside.
No, don’t literally bring in the snow, that will cause a huge mess. Make some arctic snow dough to simulate outdoor snow play. Your child will help create something that looks and feels like real snow and you won’t have to dry their mittens and boots afterward.
This is super easy and fun!
Sensory Play Arctic Snow Dough Ingredients
- 1 ½ Cups of Corn Starch
- A Can of Shaving Cream- The old school foam, not a shaving gel. Think Barbasol.
- Small Action Figures
Sensory Play Arctic Snow Dough Directions
1. In a medium sized bowl mix the cornstarch and the shaving cream. Place it in the freezer for three hours.
2. Voila, you have created snow to play with indoors. Place the snow into a large plastic play bin or a large rimmed baking sheet.
3. Put in your action figures and toy animals and play in this winter wonderland.
What happened? Why does this look and feel like snow? The answer is surface tension. Shaving cream is made of small bubbles.When the cornstarch mixes with the shaving cream, the surface tension causes the cornstarch flakes to float on the surface of the bubbles. Science is so cool.