My back yard has been a winter wonderland lately; we have more than 3 feet of beautiful white snow just begging to be played in. While my big kids are off tromping through the neighborhood, my youngest longs to go out and play in the snow too, but it’s clear that he’s a little lost about what to do in all that cold, glistening snow.
Making plans for snow activities with toddlers or preschoolers
Winter can be a difficult season as a parent of a toddler if you get cooped up indoors, and because I don’t have a natural inclination to go out and romp in the snow, I need a plan for playing outside with my toddlers (and a good set of winter clothes for them).
Over the years, I have come up with a number of ways to keep us engaged while playing in the snow and I wanted to share some of my favorite activities with you. This post contains Amazon affiliate links to relevant products, we will earn a commission if you purchase through them.
Snow Play with Young Toddlers (18 months – 2 years old)
- Catching snowflakes, on your tongue, eyelashes, or mittens is a classic and intuitive way to enjoy the snow. It’s one of my favorites because requires no prep and no materials, however, looking at pictures of snow flakes is a great way to extend the activity.
- Stack snow balls and knock them down, it sounds really simple and it is, but few toddlers can resist it. Stacking things up and knocking them over is one of my go-to ways to keep toddlers happy and the snow just makes it even more fun. You can also try stomping single snowballs on the ground.
- Load and tote snowballs– toddlers love to carry things from one place to another so why not make snow balls to carry over and deposit into a bucket (don’t have a bucket handy no problem you can always use snow to build up a mound of snow and hollow out a bowl in the top).
- Build a mini snow man – big snowmen take time and coordination but making them in miniature is easy and satisfying. Simply make a snow ball and show your little one how to pack snow around it, then make a second snowball to place on top. Add a few pebbles and baby carrot for a face.
Snow Play for Older Toddlers and Preschoolers (2 – 4 years old)
- Excavate – bury an item in the he snow and let your child find it, or dig out big ride on toys that may have been left out in the snow. It’s so much fun to dig in the snow and toddlers love the discovery of uncovering objects. I used to park our ride-on toys before a snow storm so that they wouldn’t get buried but they got left out once and the joy my toddlers found helping to uncover them sparked a new treasured activity. In fact they enjoy it so much I even purchased a mini snow shovel so they could dig out just like mom and dad.
- Make a target on the fence with side walk chalk and throw snow balls at it.
- Build snow castles– bring some cups and food storage containers out with you, or use a snow brick maker and pack them with snow, then use the snow bricks to make walls and towers.
- Sculpt snow creatures and add the face and other details.
- Make a snow kitchen – bring out some kitchen utensils, a bowl, and a pot, and let the cooking begin. If you have deep snow you can even carve a stove out of the snow!
- Draw in the snow using a stick or help them practice writing letters or their name in the snow.
- Make imprints in the snow. Bring out some items from around the house, a few toys or things with texture to press into the snow and make impressions.
- Build a snow highway or city– the snow is perfect for sculpting roads and ramps for toy cars. This activity has been such a favorite that we have a little collection of toy construction vehicles to help build our snow cities.
- Create a mini sledding hill, (here are our favorite toddler sleds) Why trek out to the nearest sledding hill when you can make a mini hill in your yard? Shovel snow into a pile and pack it down. A short ride on a gentle slope is generally all it takes for toddlers to get a thrill out of sledding.
- Fill spray bottles with water and food coloring to paint the snow with colored water. Toddlers love spray bottles and this activity both satisfies the desire to spray over and over while experimenting with color and creating some snowy master pieces.
After all that snow play your little one may be ready and willing to come inside but if they’re not, I always find that a cup hot cocoa and a good book is enough to tempt them in from the snow!
Get your toddler suited before you head out into up for snow!
- We review the best toddler mittens and gloves
- Our picks for toddler snowsuits
- Toddler snow boots for winter fun
Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.