Growing up in Alaska, I spent a lot of my childhood playing in the snow. My sisters and I would spend hours in the woods behind our house creating imaginary games, building forts, or making creations out of snow. As an adult, I have lived primarily in places where it doesn’t snow at all—or we might get snow a few days a year, and as a result the whole city shuts down! My 3-year-old has begun asking me daily, “Mama, when will it snow?” So, here is a selection of snowy day activities—whether you are missing snow or or are enjoying a white winter—that you can do inside and out!
Make Your Own Snow: If you are experiencing a snowless winter thus far like I am, here is a fun and easy way to make your own snow. All you will need is baking soda and shaving cream (make sure it is the creamy kind, not the gel type). Get a large bowl and measuring cup. Help your child to measure out one cup of baking soda into the bowl. Then begin to add the shaving cream a little at a time, having your child stir as you add. Your finished snow should feel powdery and cool to touch. Once you get the perfect snowy consistency, you are ready to play!
Snow Sensory Play: Gather a large plastic bin, plastic, or rubber animals, cookie cutters, sticks, small rocks, or any other small items to play with. Fill your bin with real or “DIY” snow and let your kid’s imagination run wild! My little one was all about creating miniature snow people in his bin. Just make sure to select an easy-to-wipe area for your bin, as things can get a little messy.
Practice Snow Writing: Gather some unique writing tools such as mixing spoons (the handle end makes a great pen) or small sticks for your child to use. Invite your child to practice writing their letters, name, or even a message in the snow! This can be done inside in a smaller container or outside on the ground. Writing in the snow is a great way to practice fine motor skills, letter writing practice, and even spelling.
Make Snow Creatures: Tired of making snowmen with carrot noses? Challenge your kids to create snow creatures! Encourage your kids to get creative with their decorations by using twigs, branches, pinecones, or leaves. Get the whole family involved, and when you are done, do a “gallery walk” to check out everyone’s creations.
Painting in the Snow: This can be done inside or out. You’ll need some liquid watercolors and a small spray bottle or some larger paintbrushes. Put each color of the liquid watercolors in a spray bottle to paint right onto the snow (you can also make more detailed shapes using stencils). For smaller images, cookie cutters work well as stencils. You can place them onto the snow and spray paint right into them, then lift up to see the image underneath! You can also make your own larger stencils by cutting out shapes from cardboard. Encourage your child to create larger designs or a more complete picture by using several different images.
For inside play, fill up a large container with snow and demonstrate how to spray or splatter paint designs using the spray bottle, brushes, or smaller stencils.
Experiment with Frozen Bubbles: This is a project that is fascinating to kids, but requires outside temperatures of at least 30 degrees Fahrenheit (ideally in the teens or below zero). You’ll just need a few common supplies (bubble solution, bubble wand) to complete this experiment. Ask your kids to predict what will happen when they blow bubbles in the ice-cold weather. Then head outside on a non-windy day and see what happens when you blow bubbles (spoiler: they’ll freeze in really interesting designs!). The best part about this experiment is how open-ended it can be, allowing plenty of exploration about surfaces, size, and shape of their bubbles.
Make Maple Syrup Snow Candy: As a child, one of my favorite memories involves making candy…in the snow! In a nutshell, you heat pure maple syrup (the “pure” part is important) to boiling, pour it onto a clean bed of snow, then wrap it up using a popsicle stick or similar tool. This article has really great step-by-step instructions for making amazing snow candy. Believe me, if you live in a cold and snowy climate—this is the project for you!
Snow Ice Cream: Another edible snow treat is snow ice cream. Yes, it is possible to make delicious ice cream using snow (please note: the snow should be very very clean and fresh!). You’ll need about 8 cups of fresh snow, a cup of milk, 4 tablespoons sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix it all together, and voila! Snow ice cream. There are several variations on this recipe you can find perusing the internet, one I have seen uses sweetened condensed milk instead of milk and sugar, and others add in different flavors. This recipe is also a great way to let your kids take the lead and experiment their way to creating the perfect snow ice cream!
I hope these activities inspire you and your kids to get outside this winter to experiment with all of the different things you can do with snow!
By Jasmine Gibson, an educational consultant with expertise in early elementary education, supporting teachers, and designing curriculum.