7 Sensory Play Activities for Cold Winter Days

Sensory play provides children an opportunity to explore through the use of their senses of sight, smell, touch, sound and even taste. These fun activities are also a way for the whole family to join in and play together.

Encouraging children to participate in sensory play promotes healthy brain development. Sensory play helps children integrate differing sensory input, building tolerance, learning to problem solve and develop skills of focus and persistence. 

When the wintery weather keeps us cooped up indoors, it can be challenging to come up with activities so in this article I’m providing a host of ways you can introduce your child to sensory play on cold winter days.

Here are 7 sensory play activities for cold winter days

  1. Make some snow slime! What fun your child will have with the creative recipes in this article and video demonstrating how to DIY at home.
  2. You can make fake snow with kitchen flour and create a tray of snow to play in. Check out this tutorial article for instructions. 
  3. Bundle up with warm mittens, hats, coats and boots and go for a winter nature walk! Listen for the crunch of snow under foot. Look up at the bare tree branches. Crack an icicle. Watch your breath in the cold air. Then you can come back into the warm house and sip on hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows and reflect on how it tastes.
  4. Set up some warm water play. It’s as simple as pouring warm water into a  plastic bin placed on a tarp, equipping your child with items that float, items that sink, some cups, a turkey baster, funnels and ladles and (with careful supervision of young children) encourage your child to explore the properties of the water in the bin. 
  5. Create DIY winter-themed play-dough using ½ cup hair conditioner and 1 ½ cups of cornstarch plus some fir or spruce essential oil and some blue sparkles if you like. You and your child will enjoy the process of creating the dough and then noticing the texture changes, the scents and the fun of squishing, rolling and building.
  6. Make warm apple cinnamon cider. Mix the ingredients with your child, heat on the stove with careful supervision and take in the aroma and note the soothing warmth of the steam and the pleasing taste together. Here’s a recipe.
  7. Set up a bean tray for sensory play. Use dried white navy beans in a casserole dish or a shoe box and include miniature trees and animals. Include scoops, cups, a funnel and any other items to aid your child’s sensory play experience.

Encouraging your child to tune into her senses and take pause to notice what she sees, smells, feels, hears or tastes is a wonderful way to practice being present, slowing down and connecting the brain and body. Although the winter weather outside may be frightful, you can create exploratory, playful experiences indoors that are delightful! Embrace this time of year as a season of slowing down and using sensory play to reflect and connect. 

If you or your child are struggling with frustration, anxiety or other issues that seem to be persistent, consider reaching out to us here at Butterfly Beginnings for play therapy and parenting support. Contact us and we’ll be happy to speak with you further.

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