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I find myself enjoying winter a lot more now that I have kids. It’s so fun getting outside and enjoying all the amazing activities I did as a child.
Sledding is definitely a favourite over here. We also plan to get our son McKinley on skates this year!
Winter can be tough though, especially when you have little kids. Sometimes it’s just too cold to get outside and a lot of the time the fresh snow doesn’t come when you want it to.
The past few weeks I have been doing fun eco friendly winter inspired activities with my kids and the kids in my care. I’ve been running around like a crazy lady trying to get this blog post ready for all of you who are stuck at home over the holidays.
Many of these low waste crafts and activities are inspired by Habitat School House‘s preschool curriculum, Nature studies programs, Holiday craft guide, and Winter Solstice program. Others are inspired by my kids and my imaginations ,as well as some things I’ve seen on Pinterest.
Many of these activities require white glue! If you want to kick it up a notch and make your own Pinterest has a ton of recipes. I haven’t tried any yet but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.
1. Winter Nature Walk
Activity number 2 requires items found outside. Get your kids all bundle up and go exploring. Bring a bag or a basket to collect all your findings. Let your kids pick up anything they find interesting, even if its not an item you need. This is a lot of fun and you can use this time to inspire a love of nature in each of your children.
2. Felt Nature Crowns
This craft is from Habitat School House‘s Winter Solstice Program.
You will need:
- a sheet of felt ( You can use any thick fabric or even cardboard for this)
- glue ( I used a hot glue gun)
- Decorations from nature
- Twine ( optional)
I found felt at the dollar store wrapped in cardboard for only $1 / sheet. I needed 1 sheet per crown.
I glued two pieces of felt together to make it extra sturdy. This is not necessary.
Measure your Childs head and ensure you have a long enough piece of fabric or cardboard. I used a ruler to ensure each triangle on the crown was the same size.
Once you have the shape you want glue both ends together to make a circle.
I had some twine in my craft bin so I glued it around the bottom of both kids crowns, just to make it extra cute!
Once that’s done let your kids pick what they want glued on their crowns.
Once everything is glued on, the crown is ready to be played with.
If you have older kids they could easily make these with a little help. ( & maybe use white glue instead of hot glue)
My kids are 2 and 4 so this was more of a craft for me.
Playing with them afterwards was the fun activity. Give your kids a crown and watch their imaginations go!
Today my kids are Elf Kings.
3. Salt Writing Tray
The kids are all getting really great at tracing so we are now starting to work on writing.
For this activity you need:
- Tray/ Container ( I used the sink from our play kitchen)
- Sea Salt
- Flash Cards
- 1 Glove
All you need to do is dump some salt in the tray and put a glove on your Childs hand. I find this activity works better with a glove but it will be okay without.
I used our Candy cane Alphabet flash cards from Habitat School House’s Winter bundle and had the kids try to write each letter out.
The kids thought this was super fun and it was super easy for me to do.
When you are done save the salt for the next activity.
4. Salt Snowflakes
This activity just kind of came to me when I was trying to find a way to use up all the salt from the Writing Trays. Honestly it ended up being one of my favourites because they turned out so cool!
You will need:
- Paper ( dark colour )
I did this activity individually with each child and they all loved it. Before we got started I drew out their name and a snow flake on their paper.
I gave the child white glue and let them trace out their name and the snow flake. If you are making your own glue have your child dip a popsicle stick in the glue and trace with that.
After they have finished tracing everything let them dump all that salt onto their paper. This part was a favourite at our house.
Then dump it all off and give it a good shake… Honestly you will probably get salt everywhere… but thats nothing a broom cant fix!
Then admire your beautiful creation.
5. Popsicle Stick Snowmen
McKinley’s snowman ( age 4)
This activity is from pjsandpaint.com
- 10 Popsicle sticks per snowman
- Glue ( I used white glue and regretted it because it took so long to dry. If you have a hot glue gun use that.)
- White and Black Paint
- Paint Brushes
- Orange Paper ( or orange paint)
Start with 7 popsicle sticks all side by side. Glue another popsicle diagonally on top to keep them all together. I didn’t find this to be strong enough so I broke another popsicle stick in half and glued both pieces on the back to help hold everything together. This doesn’t look pretty but it’s okay because its the back of the snowman.
Once the glue has dried flip it over and glue another popsicle stick at a slight angle across. This will be the snowman’s hat. ( Honestly this is hard to explain… just look at the pictures)
Once everything is dry hand it over to your child and let them paint it! You can make the hat any colour your child desires! We did black.
Once that is dry grab a small paint brush and have your child paint in the snow mans eyes and mouth.
Cut your orange paper into a triangle and have your child glue it on the snowman. This is his carrot nose!
They turned out super cute.
6. Salt Dough Garland
What kid doesn’t love to bake?
It was one of my favourite activities as a kid and it’s definitely one of my kids too. They will take every opportunity they can to help me out in the kitchen.
This recipe is from Habitat School House‘s Holiday Program Craft Guide! This guide is loaded with awesome crafts! I highly recommend it.
For this you will need:
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Salt
- 1 Cup Water
- 2 Tsp of Ground Ginger
- 2 Tsp of Cinnamon
- 2 tsp Ground clove
- 2 Tsp of Nutmeg
- Cookie Cutters
I didn’t have ground clove or nutmeg so I used pumpkin pie spice instead! You can use what ever you want to scent it!
Combine all the dry ingredients together and mix. Once everything is mixed slowly add in the water. Mix it up.
Roll out the dough and use your cookie cutters to create the shapes you want.
If you are making a garland or a christmas ornament be sure to add holes.
Heat your oven to the lowest temp ( 170 F )
Place your salt dough shapes on a cookie sheet and put in the oven for one hour.
Flip and place in the oven for another hour.
Bake for a total of 2 hours.
Once they are done and cooled add your string.
I used twine. Be sure to tie knots so your shapes are evenly separated on your garland!
Hang it up and enjoy your zero waste holiday decor.
7. Snow Dough Sensory Table
The kids loved this one and it really wasn’t overly time consuming for me. Just be sure you have A LOT of cornstarch!
You will need:
- 3 Cups Baking Soda
- 2.5 Cups Cornstarch
- 3 TBS Vegetable Oil
- 1.5 Cups of water ( add anywhere from 1-3 TBS extra if needed)
Add all the ingredients into a pot and start mixing. Its cornstarch so its not going to be easy to mix but just keep going. After a few mins it should become liquidy.
Put the pan on medium heat and just keep stirring. After about 5 mins it should begin to thicken.
Once its really thick dump it out onto a silicone baking sheet ( or wax paper).
let it cool. It will be very very very HOT!
Once it’s cooled down knead it until it’s smooth and you are good to go.
The link above states it is good for 2 weeks in an airtight container. We composted ours after because there were 8 little hands all up in it!
I dumped it in the sensory table and we made a mini snow man! It was super fun.
You can add anything you like to the sensory table. Spoon, cups, play dough accessories! I didn’t add anything because most the kids just wanted to build snow men.
8. Ice Soup
This is one of those activities I wasn’t even going to do because I didn’t think it seemed that great. I was wrong! The kids happily played with the ice table for over an hour!
For this you need:
- A Bucket/ Sensory Table
- Spoons, Bowls, Tongs, ect.
Dump a bunch of ice into a bucket and fill the rest with water. Give your kids some spoons, bowl, and tongs and sit back and drink your coffee.
Sure everything will be wet after but thats what the towels are for.
9. Ice Cube Painting
I found this on busytoddler.com
It was actually super cool. My daughter Colbi didn’t want to stop. She sat there painting until all the ice melted!
You will need:
- Popsicle sticks
- Ice Cube Tray
- Paper ( water colour paper works best)
- Tin Foil ( optional)
Fill your ice cube tray half full with the paint of your choice. Fill the rest with water. The original craft says to place tin foil over top and then stick popsicle sticks in each compartment. The tin foil helps keep the popsicle sticks in place but I skipped it. It was a bit more difficult but it worked fine.
Place it in the freezer .Wait until it is completely frozen
Pop out the ice cubes , give your kids some paper, and watch them go to town!
There you have it! 9 LOW WASTE activities to do with your preschoolers over the Christmas break. Guys these are super fun and a great way to get in some quality time with your kids! But don’t forget to go outside and enjoy the outdoors.