Winter Sensory Bin: Snow Themed Sensory Bin

A winter snow sensory bin is the best way to beat the stuck-inside winter blues. Or, if you live in a warm place, it’s a great way to experience snow! 


It snowed the other morning. Or rather, it lightly flurried (which, in the Midwest, could still mean a blizzard, FYI). Camden kept asking to go out and play in the snow, but the problem was it was just wet. The snow wasn’t sticking.

And, while living in Illinois does not come with any lack of snow, it is often too cold or too wet to play in it. That’s where this snow-themed sensory bin comes in.

(And if you live in a non-snowy place, this is a perfect way for your kids to experience snow and the joy that comes from playing with it.)


What is a Sensory Bin?

Simply put, a sensory bin is a container full of items that activate multiple senses.

Sensory bins can be in buckets, tubs, empty sandboxes or pools, or whatever container your imagination can dream up.

Pick a theme (winter, water, Christmas, Halloween, whatever you can think of), pick a container, and then fill it with items that fit that theme!

It’s really as simple as that. Sensory bins are popular ways to help kids explore their senses through different themes.

Let’s get to how I created a winter themed sensory bin!


Related: Water Play Sensory Bin

Making a Winter Snow Sensory Bin

The first thing I did was hit up Amazon to find some fake snow. If you need the snow right now, I did see small tubes of it at Hobby Lobby, but they were definitely more expensive than Amazon.

Once my fake snow came, I found a container – I chose a storage container with a lid, because the snow will keep for a long time as long as you keep it covered and sealed.

The toys I chose for my snow themed bin were basically our sandbox and pool toys. I grabbed some shovels for scooping, pouring and moving. A small cup or two for pouring. Spoons for stirring. Trucks and tractors to drive through the snow. Things to bury.

Once you’ve gathered your materials, there’s only a couple of steps to make your sensory bin:

  1. Make the snow in your container.
  2. Add toys and sensory items.
  3. Let your kids play and explore.

Note: If you’re worried your kids are going to make a mess with the snow, have them sit in the bathtub or an empty kiddie pool to play. 


Ways to encourage sensory learning with the winter snow sensory bin

My number one favorite way to encourage sensory exploration with sensory bins is: let your child explore independently. That’s right. You don’t have to lead, instruct or coach their exploration. Letting your child explore and play encourages independent play time and problem-solving. It encourages creativity and imagination.

Plus, if you’re like me, I use sensory bins or my Lovevery boxes as independent play time on the kitchen floor  for Camden when I’m trying to make dinner.

There are a couple of ways you can coach your child while he plays with the winter snow sensory bin to encourage learning. Every time you get out the sensory bin, I recommend either letting your child just play independently, or let him play independently at first and then engage in some coached playing for the last 10 or 15 minutes.

Coached Learning: Object Permanence / What’s Missing?

Start by showing your toddler 5 items from the bin. Then bury the items in the snow. Ask him where they went? Help him understand that, even though we can’t see the items, they are still there. Then let him dig and find them all.

Then show him three objects. Name the objects with him. Have him turn around and you hide one item in the snow. When he turns back around, ask him what is missing. When he names it (or if he can’t come up with it), then let him dig in the snow and find it. Make sure you let him hide something from you the next time around. Keep taking turns until he loses interest or until 10 minutes have gone by.


Related: Halloween Sensory Bin


Coached Learning: Scoop and Pour

Choose some containers that are smaller than the snow-filled container. For example, a drinking glass and a cereal bowl. Use a measuring cup (I chose a 1/3 cup) and have him scoop snow and pour it in to fill each cup. Count how many scoops it takes. Talk about whether it took more to fill the drinking glass or cereal bowl.


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