Updated August 5, 2022
Today we are sharing a guaranteed boredom-busting activity that can be done inside or outside –> Snow Painting For Toddlers!
If your toddler has a case of cabin fever, this activity is a sure-fire cure for a bored and active toddler.
We were expecting rain last weekend, which meant we’d be cooped up inside.
I had a feeling that it was going to be heavy rain and all the snow would be washed away.
I decided before the snow was gone to make a snow painting sensory bin.
If you’ve never done snow painting before, be prepared for your toddlers and yourself to be hooked!
This is a really fun winter activity for toddlers.
You can do it inside or you can do it outside. It is easy to set up and will keep your toddler busy playing and learning.
We did snow painting outside and inside. It was supposed to rain so we wanted to make sure that we got as much time outside as we could.
The most common way to do snow painting is to mix a little bit of food coloring with water.
This is the method that I’ve always used.
Doug had an idea since we have lots of watercolor sets from the dollar store.
He suggested that we try popping them out and dissolving each color in water and see if that would work for painting in the snow.
It was amazing! The colors were so vivid!
We brought out a variety of brushes, we had large brushes, foam brushes, and small little paintbrushes.
Using the watercolors instead of the food coloring meant that we didn’t need to use nearly as much of the paint on the snow to get a really dramatic look.
If you want really bright and vivid colors on the snow use foam brushes! You can get a really good deal on them here.
It didn’t take long to decide that our snow painting sensory bin was missing a theme so based on the colors we decided on the frozen characters.
The colors were so deep with bright blues and purples and yellows and greens
So we brought out the frozen characters and the next thing we knew we had an entire frozen theme happening in our snow painting sensory bin.
I love it when things happen like this.
We tend to be very process-oriented with our kids.
When I was teaching preschool and then when I taught toddlers, I was very lucky to work for several schools that were NAEYC accredited.
The college where I got my early childhood degree was also accredited by the NAEYC.
When I look for activities for toddlers and preschool-age children,
I look for open-ended activities and activities that focus on the process.
That’s one of the reasons I really like sensory play.
There’s no expected product at the end.
So I know that my kids aren’t going to feel any pressure to do something “right” or to do something the way we want.
There is a time and a place to learn how to follow directions, I just don’t think that’s in the creative space
We want them to feel free to imagine and create what they want.
Our snow painting sensory bin turned into a frozen land where everything Elsa touched turned into different colors of ice.
It was so much fun!
Two days of Frozen fun!
That was a win-win.
By the time the rain started, we were happy to get inside the house.
I was right too!
The rainstorm washed away 90% of our snow.
So let’s talk about how you can set up snow painting for your toddler too!
- A flat plastic bin about 6 inches high.
- Food coloring (Red, Green, Blue, Yellow) and 4 small plastic bins to mix the colors with water.
- Paintbrushes wide sponge brushes are the best.
- Plastic objects to go along with a particular theme. (We chose the Frozen II theme.)
Snow Painting Instructions:
1. Fill the 4 plastic bins with water and mix in paint or food coloring. Blue, green, yellow, and red, work well together.
I usually use food coloring to make the paint. You can also fill water bottles or squirt guns with colored water.
This time we dissolved watercolor paints in warm water. You can also use tempera paint which is thicker and adds another whole layer to the activity.
We have found that tempera paint works amazingly well with frozen crunchy snow! The kind of snow we usually only get in January.
In December we get a lot of heavy wet snow and food coloring or watercolors will give you the most vibrant colors.
2. Fill the large flat plastic bin with a layer of snow, about 4 inches deep.
Another awesome idea is to skip the bin and draw shapes in the snow for your toddler to use as the canvas.
You could also draw large rectangles in the snow that could as blank canvases for your toddlers.
We prefer the bins because we have lots of animals and they would absolutely walk through and roll in the paint. And then drag it through the house.
We stick with the bins even when we do shapes and when we do Valentine’s Day Snow Painting.
3. Find plastic objects that go along a theme your child enjoys.
We used Frozen 2 characters for this snow painting activity. You don’t have to include any other objects besides paintbrushes, but it does extend their play.
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4. Use sponge brushes to paint the snow.
We recommend that you use sponge brushes if you are using watercolor paint. Sponge brushes hold a lot more water than smaller bristle brushes.
The snow painting is more vibrant and the kids seem to like it more.
5. Plastic Bin Setup
Once you have all the materials set to go:
- Gently sink the bowels of paint into the snow so they won’t spill.
- Randomly place the items you have selected on top of the snow.
- Put a towel under the bin and place the bin over a surface that will not stain. Like many activities involving colorful craft materials and toddlers, you want to be prepared for a little painting outside the lines!!!!
That’s it your done … it’s toddler time!
6. Make a colorful creation and have fun!
With your toddler dressed in paint clothes, place a sponge brush in each watercolor container and show your child how to keep the brushes matched up with the same bowl.
This will keep the primary colors brilliant and when they are mixed on the snow the new colors created will be easy to see.
If the bowls get colors mixed in from the other brushes the color of the watercolors will no longer be primary colors. This will take some parental supervision.
The colors your child can make it with four primary colors:
Winter-themed books to complement this activity:
This turned out to be the perfect activity to break our toddler’s cabin fever.
We will be doing more snow painting and I’ve added it to our list of winter outdoor toddler activities!
We hope you give snow painting a try with your toddler this winter!