Activity Roundup · Tot Play

Snow Day Tot Play

The forecast around here shows a “Wintry Mix” headed our way starting tonight! Snow, sleet, and freezing drizzle into the weekend. If we were talking about blended iced coffee drinks, all those words might sound appealing… but around here people kind of panic and batten down the hatches at the first mention of impending ice.

Calvin is PSYCHED about the weather report. He is dreaming of snow and ice, longing to re-create his latest favorite episode of Dinosaur Train: The Great Big Dinosaur Holiday in the Snow! (That’s what he calls it. It’s the one about the winter solstice.) But as much as Calvin would like to spend every minute of freezing drizzle outside getting into nature, we’re definitely not spending the entire weekend out in the cold. Nope. Nor are we driving anywhere once the roads get icy. Double nope.

So I decided to take a look back through my pics of homespun toddler activities and share a few play ideas that can be put together with things you probably already have in your house, in case there are other parents like me in icy towns like mine, who might want some ideas for mixing up indoor toddler play while the wintry mix is taking over outside.

PicMonkey Collage

Shaving Cream

My cousin Diane recently reminded me about using shaving cream for sensory play. It’s great for practicing writing/letter formation. It also makes fair pretend snow. This is Calvin almost exactly one year ago playing Great Big Dinosaur Holiday in the Snow in the second picture. Same episode. Same enthusiasm!





When it rains, it pours, right? Pour some salt into a tray and it’s another way to practice writing/letter formation either with bare hands or with a tool (Calvin is using a chopstick in the picture). Also not a bad pretend snow medium. I put colored paper on the bottom of the tray so that when he made lines in the salt the colors would show.

salt tray


Hair Gel

I put hair gel into a zip-lock bag and added ocean animals for an ocean theme unit we did for tot school last year. It’s a fun texture! But, it’s super sticky (obviously) on its own. I recommend the baggie.
hair gel sensory bag



Rice is my go-to sensory bin filler because we always have it in large amounts. Just pour it into a bowl, tray, or bin and add some toys, puzzle pieces, beans, noodles, buttons, whatever you’ve got handy, to add texture or give the kids something to dig for in the rice. You can give them scoops or smaller bowls or sand toys to play with. If you’re feeling a little fancy and a little cold, you can microwave the rice first and do this warm sensory play like we did last week. And if you’re feeling really fancy, I’m told you can color the rice with food coloring! But honestly, I’m too lazy for that. Sorry, kids.



Cloud Dough

If you’re feeling like putting in a little more effort, you can make Cloud Dough which has just two ingredients: oil (liquid – this is one thing that coconut oil is probably not good for), and flour. Any kind of liquid oil and any kind of flour. 1 cup oil to 8 cups flour. Although, one time I got distracted or something and I only added 4 cups of flour. And it was still totally fine and totally fun! The texture is a bit like wet sand. Throw some toys in: figurines or little cars, maybe scoops and cups, whatever you have. These photos are also from about a year ago, and I remember we stuck little jewels in it for Calvin to mine for.

cloud dough recipe


Snow Dough

This one is by far the fussiest one on the list, but Calvin LOVES it and it fits the description of only requiring ordinary household items. The directions are in the graphic I made. Basically you tear up some toilet paper, microwave a bar of Ivory soap and tear that up as well, then mix those two together with some water until you get a dough that feels kind of like slimy play dough. It’s pretty cool, and Calvin loves it because it is perfect for playing Great Big Dinosaur Holiday in the Snow!

snow dough recipe


Anybody else got ice and snow on the forecast? What do you like to do to keep from going stir crazy when you’re iced in? Are your kids as excited about the winter weather as Calvin?


5 thoughts on “Snow Day Tot Play

  1. Great idea putting colored paper under the salt! Also I know firsthand how well the shaving cream works! It calmed a room of 10 three-year-olds in no time. I love how it basically cleans itself.


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