Tag Archives: winter

Winter Fun with Little Ones


During cold and rainy winters, it can be easy to feel the cabin fever of being “trapped” at home with your toddler or preschool age child. I’ve written lots of posts over the past few years on “Cheap Dates with Toddlers” – easy, fun, and cheap activities. Here’s the best ideas for winter fun:

  • Go to the playground in the winter – just bundle up and bring a towel to dry everything off! (For reviews of several Kirkland area parks, click here.)
  • Try an indoor playground – lots of large motor play with new friends, out of the rain.
  • Hike in the woods and have a nature scavenger hunt to see what you can find.
  • Take a ride on a bus or train – or on a ferry – just for the fun of the journey. (Just because you don’t think riding on a bus is exciting doesn’t mean it’s not for your child!)
  • Find a construction site and watch the work.
  • Attend library story time – they’re free, happen at several locations each week, and are great for encouraging a love of reading.
  • Go to the store – a hardware store, a grocery store, whatever – focus on sharing the experience with your child instead of on what you need to buy.
  • Wander around a rock yard looking at big rocks, and collecting a few small pebbles to bring home.
  • Go to a pet store (or as we like to call them “small animal zoos with free admission).”
  • Watch the fish at the Seattle aquarium, or even just in the small aquarium at your local Chinese restaurant.
  • Go to a dog walk, watching very happy pups is a great mood lifter.
  • Check out a sushi restaurant with a conveyor belt – just watching the food go around is great entertainment!
  • If you can find your plastic Easter eggs, you can pull them out for a fun hunt any day.
  • For lots more ideas, for songs, books, games, and crafts you can do at home, check out my “Fun with Toddlers” series, which are all focused around a theme such as ducks, farm, winter, zoo, or moon and stars.
  • Also, check out Inventors of Tomorrow, which is my blog focused on hands-on STEM activities for teaching kids about science.

If you’d like someone else to do all the planning for enriching varied activities for your child (from music to art to big motor play), check out classes sponsored by the parent education programs at our local community colleges. Great play-based learning for kids from birth to age 7, and parent education and support for you!

If you still need more ideas, then we have a fabulous resource here in Seattle. Check out parentmap.com for a never-ending supply of ideas for things to do with kids in the Puget Sound area.

Fun with Toddlers: Winter Theme

Bring the snow inside!Sensory Activities to Do:

Snow in the Shower. When it snows, parents will often excitedly bundle up their toddler, and take them out to play. Then the child just sits and shivers and looks sadly up at the parent. It’s not as fun as you expected it might be.

Instead, try bringing the snow inside! Make sure your bathroom is nice and warm, then bring a big bucket of snow and dump it on the floor of your shower or bathtub and put your child next to it with shovels and toys. (He can even be fully clothed to stay warm.) As the snow melts, it disappears down the drain, so no clean-up required! When your child is done playing, run a warm bath or shower to warm him back up.

Ice Play

  • Hockey rink: freeze a cake pan of water. Make mini “hockey sticks” and use a checker as the puck. Hit the puck back and forth to score.
  • Excavation: Use a loaf pan or large bowls to make blocks of ice. Freeze items inside (e.g. plastic penguins or Legos). Set it out on a tray to catch the water as it melts. Give your child a toy hammer and other tools to excavate the toys.
  • Melting experiments: Give your child ice, water with pipettes or eye droppers, salt to sprinkle. Let them explore how to get the ice to melt. Add food coloring or liquid watercolors to make it prettier.

Dry Ice Experiments: Check out my post for lots of ideas. Note – this requires close supervision!!

Games to Play:

Indoor Snowball Fight. Make or buy big white pompoms, or soft white balls. Or just wad up a bunch of paper into balls. Or ball up pairs of socks. Fill a basket with them. Then spontaneously start snowball battles anytime you want to! Not only is this tons of fun, I like playing games where I throw (soft) things at my kids. It helps them be a little bolder about ball games later in life – a little more willing to “head” the ball in a soccer game. This also allows them to get out their throwing energy indoors without much risk of damaging anything.

Crafts to Do:



Mittens: Cut out 10 paper mittens. Have your child decorate them. (Or for younger kids, have them scribble / finger paint all over a piece of paper, THEN cut out mitten shapes.) Then do the 10 little mittens rhyme together.

Tracks in the Snow. Take some colored construction paper. (Green, brown, or whatever you have.) Squirt white paint onto it. Use a paintbrush to spread it around, smoothing it. Then walk some toy animals or dolls across it. Point out their tracks. Drag a stick across it. Drag across a fork or a comb. Notice the paths they make in the paint. Then spread the paint back out again smoothing it over, and make some more tracks.

Tracks in the Snow, take 2. Make white play-dough. Play with toy animals and dolls in it, and point out the tracks they make. (Source, with pictures.)

Shape snowmen. Check out original idea here.

Snowy Day. Make a drawing (or find a picture) of an outdoor scene with trees and more. Put out white paint and show your child how to put one finger in, then dot it on the paper to make a snowflake. They make more and more snowflake dots till the landscape is covered in snow.

Rhymes to Say

Up the Mountain rhyme
Sit child on your lap
Up the mountain (run your fingers up one of their arms)
Down the other side (then run fingers down their other arm)
Brr it’s cold out… (hug them tight)
Let’s climb inside! (tickle their neck as you reach your fingers under their collar)

Five little snowmen
Five little snowmen standing in a row (hold up 5 fingers)
Each with a hat (pat head) and a big red bow (pull at neck like a bow tie)
Along came the sun (arms form big circle over head)
and it shone all day (lean sideways)
And one of those snowmen melted away! (put down one finger)
Continue until there are no snowmen left.

Disappearing Snowman
(make a paper snowman; cut as you tell story, making snowman smaller)
On Monday, I made a snowman. Just like that.
On Tuesday, the wind blew some snow away. Just like that.
On Wednesday, it rained on my snowman. Just like that.
On Thursday, the hot sun started to melt it. Just like that.
On Friday, it melted into a puddle. Just like that.
On Saturday, it snowed again. Just like that.
On Sunday, I made another snowman. Just like that.

Three little snowmen.   (mime 3 fingers perched on sled made by other hand)
3 little snowmen riding on a sled.  One fell off and bumped his head. Mama called…

Songs to Sing

For the first two songs, make your child a paper snowflake and have them put it on their head, their knee, etc.

Little Snowflake Swirling Round (tune: London Bridges)
Little snowflake twirling round
Twirling round, twirling round
Little snowflake twirling round
Lands on my head!
Repeat with different body parts.

It is Snowing (Tune: Frere Jacques)
It is snowing, it is snowing,
All around, all around.
See the pretty snowflakes, See the pretty snowflakes,
Touch the ground. Touch the ground.

Snow is Falling (tune: Skip to My Lou)
Snow is falling, what do I do? Snow is falling, what do I do?
Snow is falling, what do I do? What do I do, my darling
I’ll build a snowman bigger than you! …That’s what I’ll do, my darling!
I’ll ride my sled fast, how about you?… That’s what I’ll do, my darling!

Sing the My Mittens song in those inevitable moments when you’re searching for your child’s missing mittens.

Books to Read:
Amy Loves the Snow by Hoban. Sweet simple story for little ones.

The Snowman Storybook or The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. These are the same story, but the Snowman is wordless – you tell the story in your own words. Beautiful illustrations. Story of a snowman who comes to life. Note: This book has a sad ending. (I think that’s OK – helps to build emotional literacy. But some parents prefer to avoid.)

Red Sled or Red Hat by Judge or The Mitten by Jan Brett. All three are stories of woodland creatures getting into mischief with children’s belongings.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Keats. A little boy in the city enjoys a snowy day. This book, published in 1963, was noteworthy for being one of the first picture books to feature an African-American child. Note: this combines really nicely with the “tracks in the snow” activity above, where you can show how the doll tracks or the track from the stick is like what was shown in the book.

More ideas (and source citations) at: http://www.pinterest.com/bcparented

For my full collection of theme-based “Fun with Toddlers”, click on “Fun with Toddlers series” in the right hand side bar. These are great for parents or for teachers and librarians doing story-time for toddlers or preschoolers. If you would like theme information in printable handout form to share with students, click here.

Cheap Dates with Toddlers – Winter Outings to the Playground


During the summer, the most obvious place to take your toddler is on an outing to a playground.

But in the winter, parents hesitate to go.

Playgrounds are just as fun in the winter – you just need to plan ahead!

Bundle up your child for the weather – gloves and hats help a lot. Even more important for your enjoyment is to bundle up yourself! Your child will be kept warm and distracted by running around – you’re the one more likely to get cold. Bring along an old towel or two to wipe down wet slides and wet swings to keep your child’s bottom dry. And bring an extra set of clothes, just in case!

I keep our rain boots in the car to allow for spontaneous outings in the winter. Some day I’ll remember to keep old towels in the car so I always have one available. (Instead, I’m the one whose kid gets soaked pants every time we go – good thing I always have extra clothes in the diaper bag!)

For lots more ideas for fun, cheap outings with a toddler, click on the category Toddler Date on the right…