Rainbow Snow Activity

I’ve never seen Arlo have quite as much fun as we did today. We’ve been lucky enough to have lots of snow recently and last night it was coming down thick and fast so I decided to put together this activity for the morning.

You will need:

  • Water based poster paint
  • Water
  • Condiment bottles

All you need to do is add a small amount of paint in to a bottle and fill it up with water. Shake them well and then let loose on the snow.

The spray bottles lasted a lot longer than the squeezey bottles which I topped up a couple of times. We started off tentatively with the primary colours – testing out mixing the sprays to make new colours and trying to be a bit educational – also utilising those hand muscles too.

Then we went crazy with the spray bottles – flinging the paint around and making rainbow colours in the snow – Arlo enjoyed making circles by spinning around.

We invented a new game by address my colours to snow balls and then throwing them to make some really cool splats on the garden shed.

We built a snowman together in the garden and he got his own technicolour coat to match Arlo’s – here’s a short video which shows how our morning went:

For more of our snow and ice activities click below

Construction challenge with ice

I have been filling the tuff tray with water every night in the hope that it will freeze over, as I wanted to make a giant version of this Ice skating messy play tray. Today we managed to get a thick enough sheet of ice to play with – first things first we did some stomping to break the ice up.

Then taking care with the pieces we stacked them up to build a structure. I helped with a basic square shape and then Arlo decided to add in an extra room and a roof to the structure before finding animals to inhabit the space.

It was easy enough to stand up the ice as we had a couple of inches of snow to play with and set up on top of a random hay bale we have in the garden . Arlo ran around the garden fetching his diggers and other tools to continue the big build. His major architectural achievement came from adding in a slide for his penguins.

This was the perfect little small world Antarctic which provided lots of outdoor amusement. We ended up getting a couple of bowls of water to create a water slide and then a tiny little jacuzzi for the polar bears before heading back to our ice cream mud kitchen for more outdoor play in the snow. Check out the short clip below to see how Arlo interacted with it all

Ice cream Mud Kitchen set up

We had snow last night and I knew Arlo would want to play outdoors and so I rummaged around the house trying to think about what we could do – and an ice cream station seemed like the best plan.

You will need:

  • Cups / tubs
  • Spoons
  • Scoops
  • Slime/foam for ice cream
  • Water beads for sprinkles

It’s as simple as this to set up….. as you can see it was freezing cold outside so I made up batches of slime and our water beads with warm water which helped keep his hands warm when playing – keeping him outside for longer. Whenever I create a station like this I always make up an example, demonstrating how he can interact with the invitation to play and also because it’s fun to join in.

Arlo has a variety of tools and resources he likes to use in the mud kitchen including a turkey baster, normal kitchen spoons and measuring scoops. I pick things up in the high street shops and supermarkets whenever I get the chance and have found that plastic is best for this just because they are durable if they get left outside and they are also easy to clean. We have had years of use from some of our items.

Arlo found pinwheels in the garden plant pots and chose to decorate his creations and then we had lots of “make believe” play discussing how delicious everything was before eventually deciding that we needed to have some real ice cream and sprinkles indoors.

The slime from Zimplikids and foam from Kids Stuff Crazy were previously provided as PR samples.

Moon and stars water colour salt painting activity

This week at nursery Arlo has been following the topic of “moon stars and sun” which works with the terms overall themes of “light and dark, hot and cold” – so to support this learning I’ve incorporated some ideas in to activities we can do together at home.

This does require a little bit of planning ahead but not too much,

You will need:

  • Card stock (paper is too flimsy)
  • PVA glue
  • Salt
  • Water colour paints
  • Brushes
  • A jar of water

First things first create your shapes on card in PVA glue – I went free hand but you can find stencils or patterns online to print off or trace just as easily – simple ones are most effective for this kind of activity and you can involve the little ones if you wish.

Then sprinkle salt all over the glue and leave it to dry for a while. I have a separate container of salt to save the excess and use it in messy play trays and Science projects to melt ice etc. I like to create two sheets of paper (at least) and for activities like this I sit beside Arlo and work alongside him demonstrating and encouraging.

Once your glue has dried the image should Take on a 3D shape like this and it’s ready to paint.

Our simple set up included a palette of water colour paints and a jar of water. Arlo loves to mix colours and wanted to jump straight in – but he had to remember the process of dipping the brush in to water and then the colour and then the salt. He quickly learn that the more water he had on his brush the more colour he could mix and the better this spread on the salt.

We really enjoyed making our stars and moons rainbow coloured – and even though we had two projects Arlo took over both…. and we had a little happy accident where Arlo knocked a brush mix air and made splashes across his page – but fear not. I described these as twinkle stars and this became a new painting technique and he added some extra colours to finish his masterpiece.

These will be left to dry overnight and then we’ll put these up on display. I’m not quite sure what else we’ll try with this theme but I’m sure we’ll have a busy weekend and come up with some ideas to share.

A frozen arctic themed tuff tray

I decided to set up an outdoor tray to get a bit of fresh air – this one is not for the faint hearted! As the temperature has dropped so much I filled the tray with water late last night and i dropped in some snow flake decorations left over from Christmas, and it worked perfectly – frozen solid when I checked this morning.

You will need:

  • Water
  • Various tubs and containers
  • Snow flakes
  • Foaming soap
  • Animals
  • Food colouring

I popped a few bowls and tubs in the freezer overnight filling them with ice – plus one with blue food colouring mixed in with our beloved arctic animals. This was my “back up” just in case the tray didn’t freeze and these could have been an activity all of their own. The first thing Arlo said when he saw this tray was “we need more stuff” – running indoors for his tool set and bits and bobs to get stuck right in.

I covered the entire tray with foaming soap for added texture and colour, hiding lots of the ice at first. With it being so cold I added a couple of washing up bowls of warm water beside him and Arlo set to work – brute force worked to break up the ice with a hammer and picking it up to throw at the ground to smash – but he quickly realised it was also just as fun to add warm water and melt the ice making patterns and swirls.

I had made “igloos” by submerging one bowl of water inside another to freeze and I hid animals underneath these in the hollows and foam so there was plenty more to explore once he finished freeing the ice animals and checked out the rest of the tray – I decided take a step back at this stage and let Arlo lead the play and it became an ice rescue mission.

He was quite happy for a while playing with squeezey fish and trying to get me with water sprayed from their mouths. He rescued all of his arctic animals and ran to put them indoors at this point “for later” – and also decided that he needed to top up the tray with more water from the garden tap so ran back and forth with a washing up bowl for a while.

We ended up with a delightful soup of smashed ice, warm water and foamy bubbles – and mixing and pouring this concoction was fun for Arlo….. some of this ended up in the mud kitchen. I love seeing a tuff tray look well and truly obliterated at the end of a very busy hour. With it being so cold there is still lots of ice left over and so I’ve left this one in the garden to see if it re-freezes overnight and we can get more play tomorrow – maybe an ice rink?

Arlo hid all the animals in an orbee spa indoors and we settled down together to spend our Sunday afternoon watching an episode of David Attenborough’s frozen planet, chatting about all the different animals we have discovered this week. It’s been a fab start to the year with this winter theme – we aren’t ready to say goodbye quite yet so will continue exploring and sharing as we adventure though play – tap the image below to check out more of our fun activities.

Arctic indoor sensory bin activity

Continuing on with our Antarctic and winter themed play activities today I decided to make Arlo up a messy sensory bin of icebergs…. but instead of using a tuff tray outdoors I used a storage container which has a depth of about 20cm which is enough to contain the mess for indoor play.

You will need:

  • A storage box
  • Slime
  • Orbeez
  • Various plastic containers
  • Plastic Animals
  • Water

This was an activity which required a little bit of forward planning but because Arlo loves ice I’m in the habit of freezing things most evenings anyway. My initial idea was to just make huge ice blocks but I fancied a little bit of colour and so I threw some left over orbeez from a previous activity in to some plastic cups, cups, ice cube trays and as many containers as I had space for in the freezer.

They freeze quite nicely in to blocks and then it was simply a case of mixing up our slime stuff and popping our icebergs in to the container before placing the animals in and around, and the letting Arlo loose to play.

I know that Arlo loves this slime stuff and playing with water and cups etc as we usually use it in the bath – so I made this mixture up with half the water required and also provided cups and a jug of warm water – this meant that as water was added the ice bergs melted – the orbeez were released in to the mix and we ended up with a colourful sensory experience.

The best thing about using these under bed storage boxes is that they come with lids so after the play this morning we covered it all up, and then came back to it again this afternoon. I like to try and make the most of these big sensory bins when we use lots of materials so I’ll pop this stuff in to his mud kitchen or on his tuff spot outdoors tomorrow for some more messy play fun.

A snow dough tinker tray

Continuing on with our winter themed activities I have made a batch of snow dough, Thai is slightly different to our usual play dough recipe and has a texture which is a bit like kinetic sand. I added glitter and provided Arlo with a tinker tray and invited him to build snowmen with me.

You will need:

  • One cup of oil
  • Two cups of cornflour
  • Glitter

The secret here is to add the cornflour to the oil and not the other way round because it’s easier to mix it all up. Cornflour is the stuff we use to make oobleck and it’s non Newtonian texture means that it creates an unusual dough texture – its crumbly and flaky but makes fab snow balls. I use baby oil but if you have little ones who still mouth things then you can use vegetable oil just as well. Mixing the ingredients together is a part of the fun for little ones so roll your sleeves up together and get stuck in.

For alternative themes you can add food colouring and scents/flavours to your dough to create a more sensory experience.

I like to use “tinker trays” when we play with dough, they are party platters from Asda. I fill the compartments with random bits and bobs to suit the theme – so with the idea of building a snowman in mind I rummaged around and I found matchsticks for arms, pipe cleaners for a scarf and then various buttons, plus beads and sequins for facial features – and some cotton wool and buds just because they were to hand.

When we do things like this it’s always interesting to see how Arlo interacts with the pieces. I like to make an “example” ready for him to copy and give him an idea of where to start. Sometimes he pushes me aside and wants to completely get involved. Other times like today he sat beside me and gave me orders…. but didn’t want to actually touch anything at first.

He asked for a dog and so I moulded a shape and then he took over and added the button nose, Google eyes and pom-poms himself. He’s come back to the table two or three times to have a play and quite likes the matchsticks but insists that he doesn’t like snowmen so we’ll have to see where we end up. I’m going to try a different type of dough with cornflour later this week so we’ll see how we get on with this.

Melted snowman cookies

Here’s a really simple way to incorporate winter in to your baking….. melted snowman cookies.

You will need:

  • Cookies
  • Icing sugar
  • Marshmallows
  • Food colouring pens

I made a batch of cookies using our three ingredient sugar butter and flour recipe but you could just as easily use a digestive or similar biscuit as a base if you’re short of time.

Simply decorate your marshmallows with your icing pens – orange for noses, black for coal mouths we used blue for eyes – unfortuanlty some of our snowmen didn’t make it last this stage and were consumed as they were!

Stick the marshmallows to your cookies with some icing made up as per the pack instructions and gently spooned over the cookies – the messier the better to create the dripping snow effect.

Winter themed eyfs messy play ideas craft projects for kids

Ice skating messy play tray

This is another really simple ice tray play and one which requires very little set up – inspired by our trip to Warwick Castle where we saw a real life ice rink!

You will need:

  • A flat baking tray
  • An ice cube tray
  • Water
  • Small plastic animals
  • Gellibaff slime
  • A large play tray

Overnight I froze water in a flat baking tray and popped some plastic animals in to an ice cube tray, with half submerged and half not. These set hard and in the morning I mixed up a sachet of gellibaff to create a base on our play tray and make a slightly raised hill to rest the sheet of ice upon. I used a bit of warm water to make the ice slippy and test out our skaters and then I let Arlo loose.

Of course Arlo wanted to race the ice skating animals down the slope and so he took them all neatly off to prepare, experimenting carefully comparing the flamingo to the gorilla and the walrus to the owl – I’ve no idea which animal ended up winning the ice skating race but it was fun trying. As the ice melted away this ended up being another small world environment for the animals and the play continued until we had to clear the tray away to eat at the table.