A high fun, low cost toddler activity for the winter is playing and painting with snow. This is guaranteed to hold your toddler’s attention span and will keep your children engaged for hours. Yes, seriously!
- Kitchen utensils (trays, scoops, spoons, pans etc.)
- Large storage container filled with snow (or better: your summer plastic kiddie pool)
- Droppers and liquid watercolors
- Paintbrushes and watercolor set
- Spray Bottles with liquid watercolors (or food coloring) and water
- Powdered tempera paint or glitter in shakers
Step 1: Set up an “Invitation to Create”
There is no right or wrong way to set up an “Invitation to Create and Play”. Keep the set up and materials simple and enticing. Set out the materials ahead of time and “invite” your children to explore and create with them. Most children will not be able to resist an “invitation” when you present them with an exciting array of materials. I set out snow in bowls as well as in a kiddie pool and placed various kitchen utensils and watercolors right next to the containers on the table and floor.
What is an “Invitation to Create?
An “Invitation to Create”, also known as art prompt or provocation, is a intriguing and thoughtfully arranged array of materials that invite exploration and further investigation. It’s meant to be a simple but engaging activity that stimulates your child’s imagination, offers the freedom to create, problem solve, make decisions, explore the use of materials, use familiar materials in new ways, invent and find new ways of doing things as well as building fine and gross motor skills.
Step 2: Let your children explore
Watch what happens when play and art merge, how engaged the kids are and how joyfully they explore and learn new things when we just give them the opportunities and ease to do so.
We measured, painted, poured and dripped with an array spoons, cups, droppers, paintbrushes and watercolors until the children decided to open our own icecream shop. We made icecream cones, popsicles and cupcakes, mixed and invented lots of different flavors.
Food seems to play an important role for most of the group. Through pretend play children make meaning of their lives and had various ideas of what types of food they were making: ice cream bars, ice cream cones, pancakes, noodle soup followed with a special treat of popsicles (but only if we eat our healthy food first). Lot’s of teamwork creating ice cream flavors and practicing to share tools too.
Play is serious learning. Play really is the work of childhood. Fred Rogers
Pretending to create food also lends itself to early math. Some children would say “I have three scoops!”, and would count and share the available shapes and ice cream flavors.
While some children stayed in the ice cream shop, others went over to the kiddie pool, using those large motor muscles, to shape the snow into scoops with our snowball maker.
Toddlers especially like pouring and scooping, exploring gravity, discovering cause and effect, weight and muscle control, hand-eye coordination as well as their spacial awareness.
Painting snow also lends itself to experiment with color mixing. Many children discovered new colors they could make and stayed fascinated and engaged with that for quite a long time.
Some children took the bowls and small containers to the kiddie pool and discovered that they could shape the snow with these tools. And how about stacking the snow shapes into a tower?
The children suggested we could make a colored snowman if we’d carry our snow shapes outside.
Happy kids, endless possibilities and endless fun until the snow started to melt.
Ice cream, anyone :)?
Have so much fun!