Activities for toddlers and babies
Here are several ideas that will provide little ones with the opportunity to explore snow for the very first time or rediscover it all over again in a variety of different ways.
Hang white Christmas lights and cardboard snowflakes from the ceiling in your daycare.
Display laminated pictures or illustrations of children playing in the snow on your daycare walls, at children's eye level.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Mittens, hats, and scarves
To encourage children to practice dressing independently while having fun, fill a large bin with mittens, toques, and scarves. Be sure to select mittens and hats that are much too big for the children in your group to make practicing easier. Invite them to look at their reflection in a mirror and take plenty of pictures as they explore the contents of your bin.
Use adhesive paper to stick the following illustrations on a window: a sun, a snowflake, and rain. When it is snowing outside, go to the window with your group and observe the falling snowflakes. Point to the corresponding illustration and say, "It's snowing today."
Add various items that make you think of snow to empty plastic bottles: glitter and water, cotton balls, rice, real snow, white poster paint, etc. Set the bottles in a special bin that you can take out during transitions. Children will love manipulating the bottles as they wait for their turn.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
Falling cotton balls
Give children their pacifiers and have fun tossing cotton balls in the air. Children will enjoy collecting the cotton balls and using them to fill and empty various plastic containers. If you wish, you may also provide toy cars and trucks. Children will love driving them over the "snow". After a while, invite children to stick the cotton balls on a very large piece of adhesive paper. Variation: Use large balls of crumpled paper instead of cotton balls.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
Indoor snow bin
Babies love manipulating snow, but their tiny hands get cold very quickly outside. For this reason, provide them with the opportunity to manipulate snow indoors. Set large towels on the floor and deposit a big snow-filled bin on top of them. Let little ones touch and feel the snow with their hands. After a while, add a few accessories: plastic penguin or polar bear figurines, plastic containers, cookie cutters, modeling dough tools, etc. Older children will also enjoy using wooden sticks to play in the snow.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch and taste)
Because it looks a lot like snow, offers an interesting texture, and tastes great, letting little ones manipulate whipped cream is a great idea for this theme. Simply drop a spoonful of whipped cream on each child's high chair tray and let them explore it. Variation: Use vanilla ice cream instead. Help children notice how it's cold like snow.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Deposit a large cardboard circle on the floor (or deposit one small circle on the floor for each child). Using a paintbrush, completely cover the circle with a thin coat of a white poster paint and glue mixture. Invite children to stand around the circle and sprinkle silver or light blue glitter all over the circle. Also have them tear tiny pieces of tissue paper and encourage them to throw them on the circle. Let dry. Hang your giant snowball from the ceiling. Instead of using commercial white glue, you may mix flour and water to create glue that can safely be used by little ones who put everything in their mouth.
A great way to make white poster paint stand out is to use it to paint snowflakes on dark construction paper.
Decorating your cloakroom
For each child, cut a mitten shape out of construction paper. Encourage babies and toddlers to color and decorate their mitten. Use string or ribbon to tie pairs of mittens together and hang them in your cloakroom.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Print and laminate pictures of the children in your group or pictures of their favorite characters and invite children to place them standing up in the snow in your yard or in your indoor snow bin. They will love inventing stories with the characters.
Hot and cold
Use this theme to identify hot and cold items with your group. When a child touches snow, tell them that snow is cold. At lunch time, serve lukewarm soup and tell your group the soup is hot. Let children manipulate large ice cubes and tell them they are cold. When children drink their warm milk, tell them it is hot. Explain how ice cream and Popsicles are cold food items and so on.
Hot bottle and cold bottle
To provide children with the opportunity to explore the difference between hot and cold, present this simple activity involving plastic bottles. Fill one bottle with cold water and the second bottle with lukewarm water. Check the temperature of the second bottle. Encourage children to manipulate both bottles and use the words "hot" and "cold" to differentiate them.
Hot and cold picture book
Create your own picture book using pictures of ice, snow, hot chocolate, soup, etc. As you turn the pages to look at the pictures with the children in your group say "hot" or "cold" for each item.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Slide and climb
Find a small snow-covered hill, at the playground for example. Babies and toddlers will enjoy sliding down the hill. Avoid very big hills so that children will be able to climb back up on their own.
Snowmen (fine motor skills)
Build several snowmen that are the same height as the babies and toddlers in your group. Bring a large bin filled with hats and scarves outside and show children how they can use them to "dress" the snowmen.
Indoor snowball toss
Throwing snowballs is a lot of fun. Enjoy an indoor version of this activity to keep children nice and warm. Crumple pieces of white paper and deposit the balls on the floor. Set a box or laundry basket a few feet away and encourage babies and toddlers to toss the balls of paper in them. Variation: Crumple several pieces of white paper and deposit these "snowballs" throughout your daycare. Children will enjoy walking or crawling around the daycare to collect them. They can use them to fill a variety of containers.
Give each child a piece of black fabric such as felt. Show them how they can use it to catch and observe pretty snowflakes. With very young children, set a large piece of black fabric on the ground and sit them on this improvised blanket so they can watch the snowflakes land on it.
Just like in the sandbox
Provide buckets and shovels and invite children to play in the snow the same way they play in the sandbox during summer months.
Sleds for stuffed animals
Let babies and toddlers bring a few stuffed animals outside. Help them place the stuffed animals on your sleds. Toddlers will enjoy pulling them around in the snow. If you wish, you can cut a few cardboard boxes to represent sleds too. Simply glue a piece of rope to each box and children will be able to pull them around too.
A fort for babies and toddlers
Building a safe fort with sturdy sides and an appropriate height is a great idea, it will protect children from the cold wind. Set a thick blanket on the bottom of your fort. Wrap old telephone books with wide adhesive tape in a variety of colors (sold in hardware stores) to represent benches. Add a few bins filled with toys that can easily be manipulated when children are wearing mittens along with a small radio and laminated books.
Listen to snowflake-themed songs such as Suzy Snowflake with your group.
Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Dressed in a snow white gown
Tap, tap, tappin' on your windowpane
To tell you she's in town
Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Soon you will hear her say
Come out everyone and play with me
I haven't long to stay
If you wanna make a snowman
I'll help you make one, one, two, three
If you wanna take a sleigh ride
The ride's on me
Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Look at her tumblin' down
Bringing joy to every girl and boy
Suzy's come to town
Early childhood educator