If the weather is too frightful to play outside, or if your kids are snowed in, try one of these winning winter-themed activities for indoors. Play with pretend snow, jazz up plain old play dough, make a sensory snow bin or create a three-dimensional painted snow globe to liven up a dreary winter afternoon.
1. Coffee filter snowflakes
There is no lovelier craft than paper snowflakes and this is an especially simple version. Flatten a white coffee filter into a circle. Fold the filter in half, then into quarters, then eighths. It should look like a pie slice. Cut shapes along the edges of the wedge, then open and smooth the filter out to reveal — ta da! — a perfect snowflake! The great thing about this project is that kids can cut the folded coffee filter on any side and it will still open into a single, beautiful snowflake.
2. Play dough snowman
Just because you're stuck inside doesn't mean you can't make a snowman! This simple idea for a winter play dough tray from Early Learning Ideas will keep your little ones busy for a while. To extend the activity, you could even get the kids to help you hunt for all the bits and bobs to add to the tray. Find out more ideas about how to assemble your tray on the website.
3. Scented and sparkly play dough
This gorgeous homemade glitter play dough smells as good as it looks. Malia from Playdough to Plato adds fresh pine, peppermint extract and even hot chocolate powder to make her winter play dough extra special. Kids will have a blast making the play dough and playing with it after. Find the recipes and step-by-step tutorial on her blog along with suggestions on how to style it.
4. Puffy-paint snow globe
This cute paper snow globe from Simple Everyday Mom is made with DIY puffy paint. This wonderful paint spreads like frosting and dries into beautiful 3-D paintings. Made with equal parts white shaving cream and white liquid glue, this concoction is sure to be a hit with the kids.
Find out how to make it by watching the fun video tutorial on the site. For added bling, give your masterpieces a sprinkling of glitter before they dry.
5. Sensory snow bin
For a very simple toddler activity, toss some snow into a large plastic tub. Add some pine cones, plastic scoopers, fabric scraps, even some beach toys such as a bucket and spade for a fun and engaging game. This version from Pre-K Pages uses instant snow, but if you are lucky enough to have real snow outside, use it instead. Tip: Make sure to put a towel underneath the plastic tub.
6. Pretend snow
When it’s dark or too cold outside and the kids still want to play with snow, why not try this recipe for pretend snow by Little Bins Little Hands.
To make this snowy concoction, you'll need a large tray, some corn starch, baking soda and water. This fake snow molds well and is lots of fun for kids to dig into to create their own snowballs or snow people. It should last for about 7–10 days in an airtight container.
This article was originally published in December 2015, and updated in December 2021.