4 warming winter activity ideas

Published on Tuesday, 27 July 2021
Last updated on Monday, 26 July 2021

Article hero image

On the coldest days of winter, it can be difficult to encourage children outside for exploration.

If you’re looking to keep the children in your care, warm, engaged as well as wonderfully entertained indoors this chilly season, here are some great ways to keep their hands and minds busy without ever setting foot outside.

1. Wool monsters

With a few simple materials, children can make themselves some fun and friendly toys that may even help them to interact with one another to create a monster game. Younger children may need help with some of these steps, but if they’re able to manage wrapping the wool, twisting the pipe cleaners and snipping loops with scissors, these are all great exercises for fine motor skill development.

You will need:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Yarn (or balls of wool) in different colours (to make multiples)
  • Scissors 
  • Stick on eyes, or paper and coloured markers to draw your own, and glue

How to:

  • Take one pipe cleaner and bend it in half. If kids are doing this themselves, get them to then twist the bent pipe cleaner about a third of the way down, around four or five of their fingers lined up together. This creates a closed loop and two legs sticking up.
  • Next, cut a length of yarn. This will make the body of your monster so it’s best to use a fair bit. Wrap the yarn over and over around all four fingers until you create a ball roughly the size of a small fist.
  • Keeping the yarn ball around your fingers, slide one of the pipe cleaner legs through the centre of the collected threads and twist again to secure them all together.
  • Carefully snip the looped threads of yarn with scissors and open it all out like a mop head. Flop the strands of the monster body down over the first loop made in the pipe cleaner, after first bending the loop to make a form for the monster to stand on.
  • Roll the two free ends of the pipe cleaner down to make flat snails, and add googly eyes, stickers or eyes of your own design to finish your monster off. 

2. Melting ice

While this activity is more science experiment than arts and crafts, it’s sure to capture the attention of under-fives with a beautiful array of colours, bubbles, rivers of rainbow water and of course the fun of squirting.

And while it’s definitely not a way to keep tiny fingers warm, this experiment is a great way to talk about the differences between cold and warm, explore colours, and work on the fine motor skills of sprinkling when using the salt and pinching required for squirting the water.

This activity can also be an opportunity to discuss different states of matter with older children, i.e. water turning to ice when it’s cold, and ice turning back to water with the addition of the salt.

You will need:

  • Plastic containers in different sizes
  • Water 
  • A lipped tray such as a baking tray or something larger if you have it
  • Salt (plain table salt is fine) in small bowls for sprinkling
  • Liquid watercolours, watered down paint or food colouring in a variety of shades
  • Jars or other containers to put the colours in
  • Eye droppers

How to:

  • Pre-freeze your ice by filling up your chosen containers with water to different depths and freezing overnight. You want them nice and solid before you start.
  • Turn the ice blocks out onto your tray (dip the base of the containers in a little water if they’re sticking) and set them out on a low table. 
  • Give the children some small bowls of salt and show them how to sprinkle some over the tops of your ice blocks. Talk about how the salt makes the ice melt faster than normal, and highlight the divots now dug into the surface of the ice.
  • To give them an even better look at how the ice is melting, get the kids to suck up their chosen colours of paint with an eye dropper and squirt it onto a section of ice. This will further melt the ice, and will make the crevices created by the salt more visible.

3. Paper beanie decor

It can be hard to get children, especially the little ones, to keep winter woollies like beanies on even in the coldest weather. This cute craft activity might just be the ticket to convincing them that beanies are fun as well as a great way to keep their heads warm.

It’s also an easy way to get little fingers practising holding pencils or crayons, grabbing cotton balls and pressing those balls into dots of glue for fine-motor-skill exercising.

You will need:

  • Paper printouts of beanies, which can be found here. Or you can just hand draw them.
  • Coloured pencils, markers or crayons
  • Glue
  • Cotton balls

How to:

  • Print out or draw a beanie into the centre of a sheet of paper. Give one to each child, along with a selection of colouring-in tools and let them get creative.
  • Once each beanie has been personalised, dab dots of glue along at the top for a pom pom and along the band of the hat for a fuzzy lining. 
  • Give the kids their pictures back and a pile of cotton balls and tell them to start sticking.
  • When you have a pile of beautiful beanies, it could be fun to cut them all out, string them together and make beanie bunting to hang around your classroom. Otherwise, take the opportunity to either show each child how to write their name on their work, or help them to write it themselves. The pictures can then be stuck up on the walls for them to admire all winter long.

4. Snowflake ornaments 

Many childrem in milder climates will probably never have seen snow, but that doesn’t mean they can’t create their own snowflake ornament to enjoy this season. This craft project has it all; painting, gluing and shine - what’s not to love!

You will need:

  • Paddle pop sticks, three per ornament
  • Silver paint (you can use spray paint if you want to pre-prepare the sticks for the children)
  • Craft glue, PVA
  • Seed beads or bling
  • Ribbon or string to hang them

How to:

  • Paint the paddle pop sticks with the silver paint and allow to dry. 
  • Dab glue in the middle of two sticks and glue them on either side of the third to make your snowflake shape (like a three-legged asterisk). Allow to dry.
  • Paint the top side of the snowflake with glue and get the kids to decorate them with beads and bling. Allow to dry and shake off any excess.
  • Glue a loop of ribbon or string to the top of one snowflake point for hanging.

Related Articles

Article image

Winter STEM Ideas

From cute arts and crafts to interesting STEM projects for development, integrating the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, here are ten winter themed ideas to keep little hands busy over these cooler months.

Article image

Winter wonderland: Celebrate the season with fun activities and crafts

The colder weather of winter is a great excuse to head indoors for some high-quality season-themed crafting.

Article image

Outdoor winter activity makes a lot of sense

Five good reasons to continue outdoor play during winter, how children benefit and what elements are necessary to ensure they have a comfortable experience, despite the conditions.