Winter Sensory Bins and Playdough Activities for Your Toddlers and Preschoolers

Don’t let winter weather keep you from having fun! Bring the outside indoors with winter sensory bins and playdough activities that will keep your little one entertained through the season.

You search and search through the basket of hats and gloves to find mittens to fit your little one.

Then you bundle them up in a snowsuit and coat. After which becomes the perfect time to find the need to go potty.

Finally, you squeeze their little feet into boots and send them out the door to play, while you collapse on the couch to catch your breath.

Eleven minutes later, they are ready to come in because it’s too cold outside.

Is this a familiar winter scene at your house too? When the weather is too cold or windy to play outside, bring the winter fun indoors with winter-themed sensory activities.

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Winter can be a boring season for young children who live where it can get too cold to safely play outside. So have some sensory boxes and trays ready for play for the days you are stuck indoors!

Please exercise good judgment with these activities. Many contain small parts that can be a choking hazard. Adult supervision should be given when children do these activities.

Winter Sensory Bins

Many of the materials I use in our sensory bins are everyday items that you may already have at home. So go shopping around your house before heading out to the store!

Tip: I store filler materials that I’m not using in glass Mason jars. Then I can easily see at a glance which materials I have and it’s quick to add them to a bin. I store them together in a cabinet to save time when I switch the bins each month.

These storage boxes with lids are perfect for our sensory bins. They stack, so I can easily choose one to pull down and set on the dining room table, which is adjacent to our learning area. My son knows that he is allowed to play with the bins at leisure when they are set open on the table. Then I simply cover them with the lid and stack them high on a bookshelf when it’s time to put them away. Sensory activities are perfect to pull out to keep my little guy busy while I do our Morning Basket work with my older children.

Related post: How to Create Enticing Sensory Bins

Filler Items for Winter Sensory Bins

  • Cotton balls
  • White rice
  • Blue dyed rice
  • Blue and/or white pompoms of various sizes
  • White shredded paper
  • Navy beans (white in color)

Items to Add for Play

  • Pine cones
  • Snowflake cutouts/fillers
  • Buttons
  • Snowmen erasers
  • Artificial trees of various sizes
  • Artificial greenery
  • Small people or animal figurines
  • Scoops
  • Small bowls

Winter Themes

  • Snowmen
  • Snowflakes
  • Polar Animals
  • Evergreens/Nature

Examples of Winter Sensory Bins


Winter Sensory Bin

Sensory bins don’t get much easier to put together than this winter themed bin. I used a mix of white and blue dyed rice in mine, but you could just use all white rice if you want something even easier. Then just add some scoops and bowls and you are all set. My little guy adores scooping and pouring rice, and I’m sure it’ll be a hit with your little one too.


Snowflake Sensory Bin

This bin is very easy to put together and lots of fun! Use cotton balls or pompoms as your base. Then add in snowflake cutouts, wood pieces, foam stickers, or small plastic snowflakes. A small scoop and one or two little bowls complete this simple bin that is sure to be a hit with your little one.

Snowman Themed

Snowmen Sensory Bin
Snowman Sensory Bin

#1 Snowmen Idea: Little snowmen figurines make a perfect toy in this sensory bin. I found some at Michael’s in the Christmas village area and the others at Dollar Tree. Anything that looks like snow makes a perfect filler, such as cotton balls or white pompoms.

#2 Snowmen Idea: If you can find snowman molds for making chocolates, then you can create this second snowman bin. For this sensory bin, use small white or blue pompoms, white beans, or white rice for the filler. Add a scoop and you have the perfect bin for your little one to practice transferring skills.


Evergreen Sensory Bin

This sensory bin can easily be a crossover from your Christmas sensory bins. My little guy loves Christmas trees, naming all Evergreens one. So I took our Christmas tree sensory bin and removed the pompoms and star bow, adding in some pine cones instead. Good fillers are white rice or beans.

Check out fun winter activities for your preschooler that work on math, literacy, and fine motor skills that work well with sensory bins and playdough.

Winter Playdough Trays

I only have a couple of playdough trays this month. The little guy hasn’t shown much interest in playdough for the last month or two, though he will play with it from time to time. Let your child’s interests guide you when you begin teaching preschool at home.

Playdough trays are very easy to make this month because you can use white playdough for all of them!

You can find my favorite playdough recipe in my teaching colors guide, given as a bonus when you join the Homeschooling in Progress community.

Examples of Winter Playdough Trays


Snowman Playdough Tray

Depending on the skill level of your little one, they can choose to roll the playdough into three balls, or roll flat and use a snowman cookie cutter to make a snowman shape. Buttons or colored beans, beads, or even wood or foam circles can be used as the snowman’s features. A small piece of ribbon or fabric makes a perfect scarf.

Snowy Landscape

Snowy Landscape Playdough Tray

A snowy landscape makes a delightful activity for children who like using the rollers with their playdough. They can roll out the dough, then add in artificial trees, polar animals, or miniature people found in the Christmas village section of craft stores. Small pinecones, pine branches, and twigs are an additional option for a more natural landscape.

Winter Loose Parts Play

I have only recently started laying out containers of loose parts for my little guy. He sometimes sits and plays with it, but other times just makes a mess. So I’m going to try one or two boxes to set out each month to test them again for interest. Loose parts play is also an option for children who don’t like playdough. Many playdough trays can be adaptable to loose parts play if you just remove the playdough.

Examples of Loose Parts Boxes

Loose parts boxes can be any plastic storage containers you have at home. If you prefer to keep them more organized, then divided containers would be best for you. Containers with lids allow for easy stacking and storage when not in use. I use a few of the Glis storage containers from Ikea to store our playdough tray items, and will use them as loose parts containers too.

Polar or Winter Animals

Winter Loose Parts Tray

Polar or winter animals make a fun loose parts box when paired with items to represent the arctic or a snowy scene. White felt creates a snowy landscape while blue felt cut in oval shapes makes water. Animal figurines can play among artificial trees or small twigs from your backyard. Cotton balls, wool felt balls or pompoms are fun additions as well.

Build a Snowman

Building a snowman with loose parts is easy when you start with three circles of white felt. Then add in buttons, beads, and beans. Don’t forget a carrot nose from orange felt and a hat cutout from black felt. Small sticks and fabric for a scarf will complete the snowman’s look.

When your little one is stuck indoors, these winter sensory activities will keep them warm while still enjoying the fun winter has to offer.

You may enjoy more inspiration for indoor kids’ activities found below.

Hi, I’m Christy!

I’m a homeschooling mom of 4, from preschool to high school. Homeschooling can be overwhelming, but I believe you can simplify your homeschool day so it’s manageable and enjoyable. When you join the Homeschooling in Progress community, you’ll learn ways to simplify your homeschool through emailed tips PLUS receive 5 Easy Steps to Create a Simple Routine for Productive Homeschool Days guide so you can start simplifying your homeschool today!

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