Inside: We love to kick off winter with a toddler and preschool snow and ice theme. Even if the temperature in your area is mild, these activities will invite your children to experience cold with fun hands-on ideas. Free printables included!
When we return from winter break we jump into our snow and ice theme.
Even though we don’t always get snow in our area, this theme allows us to explore different temperatures in a variety of ways.
The highlight was handling ice, painting it, and then watching it melt. We connected it to the book Sneezy the Snowman, who would melt when he drank hot chocolate but feel really good when he ate cold ice cream.
We added some simple math with a variety of counting activities, used fluffy paint while making snowflakes, and made pretend snowballs using kinetic sand and big snowball makers.
Hands-on, playful learning to welcome winter!
👉 Note: Free winter printables are available for you to download towards the end of this post.
Toddler and Preschool Snow and Ice Theme Ideas
I love decorating our classroom with art that the children create.
Even better when it can be a group activity, such as these big snowflakes made out of paint sticks!
They look so fun in our classroom window!
Read about it here: How to Make a Simple Wooden Snowflake Craft
In addition to the large snowflakes, I invited each of the children to make their own smaller version. I glued craft sticks together to look like a snowflake and then the children painted them blue and added the same small pieces that were used with the larger snowflake.
For our toddlers, I replaced the buttons and beads with pom poms.
Read about it here: Fine Motor Snowflake Art
Ice painting is always a hit in our toddler and preschool classroom! The children kept touching the paint while saying, “It’s so cold!” Such a fun way to learn about cold temperature, and what happens as the ice warms.
Related: Ice Painting for Kids
We made winter sensory bags using paint and sequences, taping them to the light table. These are always fun to press and move the pieces around!
We also had our snowflake counting cards on the light table to practice simple counting.
(Free printable is available towards the end of this post.)
While surfing Amazon in early December, I found these snowball makers. I didn’t even know they were a thing until now!
I love the large size as it involved both hands as the children scooped kinetic sand into “snowballs”, dropping them into the pail. If it really does snow here, I’m taking these outdoors for sure!
One of our 3 year olds broke his leg in a skiing incident during winter break, so I wasn’t sure how mobile he’d be. I decided to set up some of his favorite wooden cars and community buildings at our train table, in case he needed to sit in one spot. (Turned out after one day he quickly learned how to scoot around the room, but he still loved this set up, as did all of our children.)
Our featured shape this month is the triangle, so I pulled out some triangles from our new collection of jumbo shape buttons, added some matching colored plates and colored matchsticks, and invited the children to press them into playdough.
This not only a fun shape recognition activity, but it also strengthened color recognition as the children sorted the buttons by color. Pushing the matchsticks through the small holes in the buttons added some extra fine motor, too!
After finding the song Five Little Snowflakes, I cut five snowflakes out of flannel to create a prop with our felt board.
I love using props during circle time, as I share in this video. The snowflakes were a great visual as each snowflake left the felt board, counting backwards from 5 to 1.
I also gave each child a small snowflake to hold, and we gently tossed them while the Five Little Snowflakes song turned into Let it Snow at the end.
Related: Circle Time Activities
Music and Movement
When Nancy Kopman sent me a free copy of her latest CD, Senses, I knew the Shake, Shake, Shake song would go perfectly with our parachute.
Not only was it a great way to get those wiggles out, but it also reinforced moving UP and DOWN while we used our listening skills to follow the words.
Related: Fun Parachute Games
Click on each photo below to get the link to the download:
More themes for toddlers and preschoolers:
Planning your themes for the year? We’ve done the work for you!
I am so excited to be a co-author in each of these 20 themed unit lesson plans!
20 lesson plan units – each with its own theme.
In each unit you will get:
24 preschool learning activities for your spring theme, including literacy, math, science, art, fine motor, and more! A great resource for teachers and homeschoolers.
24 preschool learning activities that cover:
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