Winter sensory play

Sensory play is great all year round. Winter in partiuclar helps develop the children in your setting's senses with the smell of spices and the cold weather.

Themed sensory play

Create a seasonal box or tray of wintery sensory objects to excite the senses.

You will need:

  • Tuff tray or box
  • A mixture of items, for example, cinnamon sticks, bubble wrap, ice cubes, snowflakes, toy polar bears or pieces of foam cut to various sized to represrent icebergs


  1. Place all of your objects in your tray or box, and encourage the children to touch and smell the different textures and objects.

Winter blizzard sensory tray

Experiment with cause and effect in this wintery weather activity.

You will need:

  • Tissue paper in wintery shades, e.g. blue, white, silver, etc.
  • Scissors
  • Hand operated balloon pumps
  • A water or tuff tray (or you could use a deep baking tray on a low table or a cardboard box)


  1. Cut or tear the tissue paper into small squares (children who love snipping may want to help you here too) and place in the tray
  2. How much you need will depend on the size of your tray - make sure there is enough to cover the bottom at least; maybe you could experiment with the depth to see what works best?
  3. Show the children what happens when you pump the balloon pump, what do they think will happen if they aim the pump at the tissue paper snow? 
  4. Have fun pretending to be the wind whooshing the snow around and around! This activity is great for building up children’s gross motor skills and muscle strength in their arms and hands. You will also be teaching them about the world around them through experimenting with cause and effect and it is an opportunity to talk about the weather and seasons - perhaps you will model new sounds and words for the children e.g. whee, whoosh, swirl.

More ideas to try...

  • This activity could be enhanced by having stories about the wintery weather to share with the children. Can you think of words to describe a windy day together? Perhaps make a picture, poster or display to promote the children creative writing and vocabulary. 
  • Adapt this activity for different seasons, for example use autumnal colours like the leaves blustering in the wind.
  • Try adding some other interesting items such as winter figurines, wooden trees, gem stones, cinnamon sticks, feathers, tinsel, etc. to create a sensory tray. What do the children think will happen now? Can they move each item with the air from the pump?
  • Extend the children’s learning and vocabulary by describing what they are doing, and use words for exploring with maths and science; “I wonder what will happen if…?”, “why do you think…?”, heavy, light, weight, float, big, small, air pressure, force, etc.