Cold Weather Crafts: 12 Winter Art and Sensory Play Ideas

Cold Weather Crafts: 12 Winter Art and Sensory Play Ideas

When the weather gets too cold to play outside, it can be a challenge to keep the kids entertained. This is especially difficult for kids with a sensory processing disorder, who may not be receiving the range of sensory input they usually find outdoors.

Sensory processing disorder refers to a neurological condition, which affects the way kids experience sensations. Some kids may be unable to feel sensations as intensely, or they may feel them more intensely than other children. This can manifest in a number of ways, such as meltdowns, clumsiness, fussy eating and sleeping habits, and a poor attention span.

Sensory crafts and activities can help kids with sensory processing issues experience sensory input in a fun and safe way to help them become more accustomed to sensations. But, sensory play isn’t only beneficial for kids with SPD; sensory play can also enhance learning, and allow kids to enjoy using their senses to explore the world.

To help you keep your kids engaged this winter, here are 12 cold-weather crafts and sensory play ideas.

  1. Sticky Christmas Tree

Get the kids in the holiday mood with their own Christmas tree to decorate again and again. This activity is all about proprioceptive input.

Reaching and stretching, as well as the fine motor manipulation needed to peel the sticky ornaments off the tree, allow kids to be aware of their body position. This helps them to understand boundaries and personal space, allowing them to modify their movements to play safely.

  1. Frosty the Snowman Costume

Imaginative play is essential for healthy child development. It will enable them to experience different perspectives and develop empathy, as well as navigate challenging social interaction, which can be difficult for kids with SPD.

Get the kids’ imaginations going with this wintery Frosty the Snowman costume. All you need is a blank kids t-shirt and some fabric dye, and you have the perfect seasonal addition for their dress-up box.

  1. Paper Snowflakes

Turn your kids’ room into a winter wonderland by decorating their windows and walls with these beautiful paper snowflakes. This is a great activity for improving fine motor skills and developing proprioceptive input in the hands. Use heavier cardstock, or stack a couple of sheets of paper on top of each other to provide an additional sensory challenge.

  1. Indoor Ice Skates

Another mode of sensory input that is sometimes overlooked is a vestibular sensation. This refers to how the body feels when it moves. Indoor play can make it difficult to receive vestibular input.

However, these amazing indoor ice skates let you kids slip and slide around safely indoors. Create an indoor obstacle course for them to navigate or organize a speed skating competition

  1. Edible Fake Snow

You can’t beat the cold crunch of real snow, but this edible fake snow can be just as fun for when you can’t get outdoors. It is safe for young toddlers through to older preschoolers who like to explore the world using their sense of taste, and best of all, it’s made with one ingredient that you are almost certain to always have in your pantry.

  1. Arctic Slime

Slime is always a fun material to have in any sensory bin, and this chilly winter version takes slimy sensory fun to the next level. You can use any winter-themed glitter or confetti to create your slime. The tutorial combines three different slimes to create a tundra and add a little STEM fun to their sensory play.

  1. Winter World Sensory Bin

Let the kids create their wintery world with a basic sensory bin. White rice and a container are all you need to create the foundation for this tactile sensory bin, and you can add any other winter-themed items you like, such as pom poms for snowballs, or plastic winter animals. Include scoops and small containers for the kids to transfer the rice to enhance their sensory experience.

  1. Hot Chocolate Cloud Dough

Cloud dough is an unusual material that provides a unique tactile sensation for kids, as it’s light and fluffy, but can also be squeezed and hold its shape. Add an olfactory element to play, such as hot chocolate powder to the dough.

  1. Winter Search and Rescue

Bring the icy outdoors inside with this winter rescue activity and get ready for some frosty fun. Watch as your child uses warm water to slowly melt the ice to reveal the toys hidden inside, in need of rescuing.

You will need to prepare this activity the night before. However, it is a great way not only to provide some interesting tactile and visual input, but is also an excellent opportunity to incorporate some STEM activity into your child’s play.

  1. Melting Snowman

Baking soda is always a hit for sensory play, and these frozen baking soda snowmen fizz and melt delightfully when your kids drip vinegar on them. Use various utensils to melt the snowmen for enhanced fine motor skills practice, and add glitter to the soda or food dye to the vinegar for an added “wow” factor and visual stimulation.

  1. Snow Globe Jars

Visual input is about more than just observation. The visual sensory system is responsible for tracking, scanning and discriminating among other things, and directly contributes to essential skills like letter and number recognition, reading, hand-eye coordination and focus.

An overloaded or under-stimulated visual system can make even simple daily tasks a chore for kids, so an activity that gives gentle visual input like these snow globes is a wonderful addition to your child’s sensory diet.

Use familiar objects like some of your kids’ plastic figurines, and colorful food dye to create a magical slow-moving winter wonderland.

  1. Scented Gingerbread Man Art

For a real olfactory treat, try these scented gingerbread men. The kids can practice their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination by selecting and arranging patterns in the gingerbread man cut-out, then enjoy the sweet, spicy smell of ginger, cinnamon and cloves as they sprinkle the spices over their artwork.

Remember…

Sensory processing is a complex developmental issue and is experienced differently by each child. Some sensations may be more challenging than others, and it is important not to push your child into an activity that is far beyond their comfort level.

Try some of these fun seasonal crafts and activities with your child, and give them some sensory fun this winter.

This has been a guest post by Jordan Smith.  Jordan Smith loves glitter, glue guns, and spending time with her family. Creating crafts and memories is a family tradition she is instilling in her daughters. Sharing her crafts by blogging is new to her but something she is really enjoying!!!

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