When it’s too cold outside to play, bring some sensory fun inside to break up the monotony of winter! Sensory bins don’t have to be time-consuming and you don’t need to purchase a bunch of new toys. Just grab a plastic tub and add some materials you may already have at home!
Here are 10 ideas for winter sensory bins that can be done with toddlers and preschoolers. Children can help put most of these together and then enjoy them with you and their friends. A variety of skills are developed using these sensory ideas including fine motor skills and cognitive development.
Fake snow and arctic animals
Children can place animals in the snow and talk about how the animals live where it is cold and snowy all the time.
Materials needed: Fake snow (homemade with ½ cup Suave conditioner and 2 cups baking soda), or real snow! Small plastic arctic animals.
Hot chocolate theme
Children can “serve” hot chocolate to each other.
Materials needed: Pinto beans, cotton balls, plastic mugs, whisk, ladle. (Chocolate tea bags can be used to scent the beans for a more real experience.)
Children of all ages can enjoy painting the snow.
Materials needed: Snow, paintbrushes, watercolor or tempera paint.
Children can dig through the sand to find hidden treasures.
Materials needed: Hidden “treasures,” sand, shovels
Letters in the snow
Older children can practice tracing their letters in flour.
Materials needed: Flour, children’s fingers!
Children of all ages can enjoy the soft texture of this dough.
Materials needed: ¼ cup baby oil, 2 cups flour
Ice cream shop
Children can create and serve ice cream to each other. Using the scoops and tongs for the cotton balls works on fine motor development.
Materials needed: Cotton balls (colored if desired), ice cream scoop, small bowls, tongs
Panning for gold
Children can help paint the rocks gold, then later find it in the sand using shovels and sand sifters.
Materials needed: Rocks, gold paint, sand, shovels and sifters
Snowman assembly center
Using the markers, draw different parts of the snowmen on the ping pong balls. Children can put together a snowman by finding the three parts that go together.
Materials needed: Ping pong balls, markers, cotton balls, white marbles
Shake the following materials together until all rice is colored. Let the rice dry completely on a paper towel. Measuring cups, spoons, etc. can be used with the colored rice.
Materials needed: 1 cup rice, ½ tsp vinegar, food coloring.