40+ Winter Sensory Play Activities to Keep Your Kids Active and Engaged

I am so excited to share with you our ultimate sensory play guide to winter themed sensory play! Today we are sharing over 40 sensory play ideas that you can do indoors and outdoors this Winter.

It’s not too early to start planning for winter. Sensory play is a great way to get kids engaged and entertained in the colder months. Winter sensory play can be perfectly adapted for just about any age group – toddlers, preschoolers, or school aged children. Kids of all ages will have so much fun exploring the ideas that we have gathered for you here in this blog post. 

Sensory play also has many benefits including enhancing creativity, improving language skills, and encouraging curiosity.

This guide includes tonnes of ideas and set ups that you can choose for your winter sensory play activity, whether you want to go with winter sensory bottles, sensory writing bags, Christmas themed sensory bins, sensory art activities, active whole body sensory play activities or something else.

Over 40 Winter sensory play ideas and activities for kids to do indoors and outdoors during winter

Sensory play is not just about messy play ideas, it can also be about engaging the senses of sound, smell, sight, and even engaging whole body senses of proprioception (this is is your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location)

We love to feature sensory play ideas, so I’ve gathered together some of the great Winter sensory activities that your kids are sure to enjoy. I hope this list will provide some inspiration and help you plan a great winter activity!

Winter Sensory Activities for Kids – Fun Ways to Spice up Your Sensory Playtime!

Winter holidays are just around the corner, and it is time to start thinking about what games you would like to play with your children.  

Play is such an important experience for children as they are growing up. When kids play, they learn how to work with others, solve problems and explore their creative sides. It’s a way for them to relax and have fun!

It’s often hard to think of new things to do with your children, but winter is a great time for family activities that feel festive and exciting. Sensory play activities are a great way to spend quality time with your children in winter without breaking the bank!

Here are some Winter sensory play activities that will entertain your kids for hours! 

Winter Sensory Play does not have to be limited to indoors – it can be done outdoors, too! Take advantage of the wintry weather and snow to create an outdoor sensory play area for children.

1. Play with Cinnamon & Ginger Scented Cloud Dough 

Make up a batch of this festive scented cinnamon and ginger cloud dough for some hands on tactile play, that smells just like Christmas. The recipe is so simple, you can put this together with just four ingredients in a few minutes and it keeps well for a few weeks in an air tight container 

2. Chocolate Cloud Dough Sensory Play

Or for winter hot chocolate vibes, go for our chocolate cloud dough recipe. You could add mini marshmallows to the tray, for yet another texture to explore to create your own hot chocolate sensory bin.

As you might guess by the chocolate theme… this stuff smells great! Luckily it is non toxic and taste safe if little ones can’t resist. 

If you want even more winter cloud dough recipes check this list for 25 Winter and festive playdough recipes – play dough, cloud dough, snow dough, foam dough and more. Plenty of sensory ideas! 

3. Scented Spice Painting

Painting with spices is a really fun way to engage the sense of smell, as well as getting creative. Add different spices to your paints and see if kids can match up which ones are the same. You can use some of the key scents that remind us of the Winter season like ginger and cinnamon, or how about herbs and spices used to cook family dinners over the holiday season like mint and black pepper and cayenne pepper?

You can also use your home made sensory spice paints to create your own greeting cards

4. Create a Snowman family for a sensory art project 

Create a snowman family with cotton balls. Give them eyes, nose, mouths and buttons. You can use different colors or textures of cotton balls to make each snow person unique! For this project you will need: cotton balls, glue, different colored buttons (optional), and scissors (optional).

5. Create Mix and Match Stone Snowmen 

Get busy painting rocks and stones to put together your own mix and match snow men. These are such a fun and tactile toy for kids to play with after you’ve finished creating. 

6. Make a Real Snowman

Enjoy the outdoors for Frosty Frozen Frolics! When the snowy weather hits, making a snowman and playing in the snow is always an adventure, but it is also a valuable sensory experience for kids. 

Outdoor play and physical activity is just as important during the winter months, so these opportunities are extremely valuable. 

child and parent making a snowman

7. Winter Scarf Throw and Catch

Try to take turns tossing scarves from one person to another without dropping them. This engages the whole body and helps kids get in touch with their sense of balance, developing hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. 

pile of winter scarf

8. Catch snowflakes

Engage all your senses as you go outside and catch snowflakes on your tongue! You can also take a piece of black paper outside to catch snowflakes and look at them under a magnifying glass. The contrast against the black will let kids have a great close up look at these beautiful miracles of nature. 

snowflake on black background close up

9. Sensory Snowflake Crafts

If you’re inspired to create some sensory snowflake crafts after catching them on paper, use our free printable snowflake coloring pages and craft templates to put together your own winter wonderland with the kids. Print them out then decorate with sparkles, glitter, gems and all kinds of craft supplies for a shimmering visual experience. 

10. Frozen Bubbles

Go outside and blow Bubbles. In freezing temperatures this is a very different experience to summer, as you can watch the bubble freeze in front of your eyes – so cool! 

frozen bubbles sensory activity

11. Make a Winter theme mini small world in an egg box

We made this frozen themed small world play activity using a recycled egg box, cotton wool balls and white packing peanuts. Because it is portable the mini small world is great for open-ended play on the go. 

12. Make a Penguin Mini Sensory Box

For an arctic animal twist on the portable small world, try this penguin small world activity contained inside a bento box. The sparkly gem stones and the squishy marshmallows are so tempting to touch and play with. 

 

winter sensory activities - sensory bins, sensory bags, sensory jars and more

13. Snowy Sensory Writing Bag

It is really easy to make a Snowy Sensory Bag for Writing Practice – with just one ingredient that most mums will be able to find hidden away in the cupboard! This is a fun way to practise mark making and letter formation in a tactile way, which gives lots of sensory input. Use a Q-tip or cotton bud to write with – great for fine motor skills!

14. Make Fake Snow

Put together a batch of your own fake snow for a combined science and sensory activity as kids learn how the chemicals react to create this realistic snow, and then have fun exploring the results. Pretend snow is just like real snow without the cold temperatures! 

15. Make Sparkly Winter Playdough

Play with some home made Winter Sparkle Playdough like this one from B Inspired Mama. Add some festive and fun shaped cookie cutters like snowflakes, gingerbread men, or reindeers for even more snowy day fun. 

winter sparkle play dough sensory play

16. Sparkly Gel Dough

Or try our sparkly gel dough recipe for an even squidgier texture than normal playdough. 

17. Snowflake Sensory Bottle

Make this Blizzard in a Bottle Sensory Jar from No Time for Flashcards. Sensory bottles are a really calming visual sensory resource. Watching the glitter and snowflakes move around inside the bottle can help kids slow down and feel grounded especially in moments when they are struggling – but they are also a lot of fun to put together and to explore. 

18. Make a mini snow globe

This Glitter Snowglobe Mini Sensory Jar from Hodge Podge Craft is a similar concept. You can even add a photo inside the jar to make this into a personalised snow globe. 

19. Natural Sensory Bin

Put together a sensory tub to explore nature, like this All Natural Christmas Sensory Bin – from What Can We Do With Paper and Glue. This sensory bin contains all kinds of natural textures and materials for the children to explore and handle. 

Young children love to explore different textures and focusing on natural ingredients helps them build a connection with our natural world. 

20. Nativity Themed Sensory Bin

Looking for a religious themed Christmas sensory activity? Try this Nativity Sensory Bin from Golden Reflections Blog to help connect children with the Christian side of the season in a hands on way. 

nativity sensory bin

21. Frozen Themed Sensory Bin

Frozen is just as popular as ever, especially after the release of Frozen 2 gave it another boost for the next generation. My daughter absolutely loves Frozen and like most little kids she loves a good sensory bin.

This fun hands on Frozen Sensory Bin from Learning 2 Walk will keep her busy and happy exploring and playing, tipping, filling and pouring. 

22. Jingle Bells Busy Bag

This Jingle Bells Busy Bag from Powerful Mothering is a fun way for toddlers to get in some fine motor practice, strength their little hands, fingers and muscles and build up some important pre-writing skills all while exploring the sounds and senses of Christmas jingle bells. 

23. Icy Hand Sensory Activity 

Explore the feel of the cold with this Icy Hand Sensory Activity from Tiny Tots Adventures for Learning 2 Walk

24. Add a Winter Theme to Wooden Train Play 

Playing with the wooden railway tracks was always my boys favorite activity for playtime. Adding a few extra features can transform old favourites into something new, like this winter themed wooden train track play, and create a whole new sensory experience. 

25. Penguin Finger Puppets

Use these diy penguin finger puppets to explore sound and song. You can incorporate learning themes like counting and colours and practise all of these in the most hands on way. 

penguin finger puppets for singing and play

26. Bake Christmas Brownies 

Explore the sense of taste, by baking these super easy Christmas tree brownies together, then have fun decorating and even more fun eating. 

christmas brownies

27. Clean Mud

Have you heard of clean mud or ghost mud. If not, you may be surprised to know that this sensory play recipe is made from toilet paper. It is squishy, squidy and white just like snow so it makes a perfect activity for Winter sensory play. Check out our clean mud recipe here and give it a try, as another alternative to create some pretend snow. 

28. Decorate your own coloured salt Christmas tree 

Have you ever thought of dying salt for sensory play? Check out this coloured salt sensory play activity that gives kids the chance to get creative decorating their own colorful Christmas tree and exploring the different materials. 

29. Make a Stained Glass Wreath 

Make your own stained glass wreath craft and explore how the light shines through the different coloured panels – lots of visual crafty fun, and an easy activity even for toddlers. 

30. Take a trip to see the Christmas lights

Find a local light trail near you, many farm parks and woodlands have beautiful woodland light trails that you can walk through after dark, or go for a drive around to check out the Christmas light displays in your neighbourhood. If you’re in London, a drive through Oxford Street is iconic. 

31. Sensory Play with Rice

White rice is just like snow, perfect for sensory tubs. If you would like to dye or scent your rice check our instructions to make it as easy as possible. 

sensory play with rice at christmas

32. Bring the Snow indoors

Playing outside in the snow is great, but sometimes after a while the kids start to get a little bit too cold even though they would still like to play some more. The way I solve this is to take a tub of snow and bring it in to the sensory table. That way the kids can scoop, play and explore until it melts – all while inside in the warm. 

This is the Flissat sensory table from IKEA, which I would totally recommend, but if you need a tutorial for a DIY sensory table then we have got you covered for that too. 

snow in the sensory table flissat sensory table from Ikea

33. Snowy Crayon Resist Painting

Draw, write or scribble on white paper with white crayon. It’s invisible until you paint over the top and the secrets are revealed! We had fun with a snowflake themed crayon resist activity, it keeps little ones busy for ages and they will be amazed by their discoveries as the images underneath are revealed. 

crayon resist painting with winter theme

34. Sing Christmas Songs

Engage the sense of sound with a Christmas singing session. Try this list of top 100 Christmas songs on Amazon for inspiration. 

35. Pin the Nose on Rudolph

Wear a blind fold, spin around and try to pin the nose on Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. This engages all your senses of balance and proprioception. Download our free Pin the nose on Rudolph printable game to have a go with the kids. 

36. Make a Polar Sensory Bin

Put together a simple polar sensory bin or arctic sensory play bin with whichever pretend animal figures you have available. This is great for imaginary play and all kids of open ended play fun. 

37. Go on a winter walk

It may be cold outside but wrap up warm, and go and explore the woodlands or nearby park to explore how the world looks and feels compared to summer time. Notice the frost on the ground, the bare branches on the trees, and the way your breath can be seen in the air due to the cold. 

Why not try including a winter scavenger hunt to extend this activity

38. Make a Rustic Star Ornament 

Use the sticks you gathered on your walk to put together this gorgeous Christmas star craft made from all natural materials. 

39. Frozen Pom poms

Pom poms are a staple among the sensory bin fillers, but did you ever think of freezing them? Try this frozen Pom poms sensory bin activity from Happy Toddler Playtime

40. Winter Sensory Play with dinosaurs 

The best thing about simple sensory play ideas is that you can adapt and include whatever your child’s interests are. These are open ended flexible play ideas and sensory play recipes, and wherever your child’s interest goes you can follow. Try this Dinosaurs in the snow sensory play idea from Happy Toddler Playtime 

dinosaurs in the snow sensory

41. No Mess Winter in a Bag Sensory Play 

If your little one wants to explore but doesn’t like getting their hands dirty, sensory bags can be a really good bridging ground to give them access to new textures in a way that feels more comfortable. Try this no mess winter in a bag sensory play activity from A Little Pinch of Perfect. 

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So there you have it… more than 40 easy winter sensory play activities for kids, to keep them busy indoors and outdoors during the colder months. 

We hope you enjoyed these Winter sensory play activities.

Please share with friends and family or pin to your boards on Pinterest. Thank you so much!

huge list of over 40 winter sensory play ideas for kids, for indoors and outdoors during the winter months

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