Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wintry Fun for Florida Toddlers

It’s been a busy 2 weeks in our classroom since we returned from Christmas break! Even though the thermometer has read 80 degrees most of the time, we’ve been learning all about winter! No, our toddlers couldn’t go out and play in the snow, but we did learn about the cold!

Our playground is in the beating tropical sun, so to cool off a bit, we usually play with water. These past 2 weeks, though, we’ve been playing with ice! The toddlers have had so much fun scooping ice into cups, placing the ice cubes back in the tray, watching the ice melt, rubbing the ice on their faces, trying to lick the ice, throwing ice, burying ice in the dirt, etc. They are talking up a storm these days, and “Ice is cold!” has become the new saying.

For the first time, we played with shaving cream in our classroom! It really wasn’t as messy as I was dreading, since the shaving cream was mostly contained on cookie sheets. Well, there was that fire drill when one of the students was still wearing some shaving cream, but he was ecstatic to go outside without getting his hands washed off!

We then transferred the shaving cream (mixed with glue) to construction paper and added some eyes, “branches,” and pompoms to make some melted snowmen, more appropriate for our weather!

The sensory bin is always very popular in our classroom. This time we played with Styrofoam pieces and cotton balls. 

We scooped them up, rubbed them on our arms (“soft”), placed them in muffin tins and ice cube trays, and…

…dropped them into water bottles! What skills we’re developing without even knowing! 

Then… we painted with ice! I filled up an ice cube tray about halfway before dropping in about this much tempera paint. I only used primary colors because I figured they would mix together.

This is what they ended up looking like! Next time, I am going to cover the tray with foil and poke some popsicle sticks in each cube before sticking it in the freezer. The foil will hold the popsicle sticks up until they freeze, so the students will have something to grasp when painting.

For now, though, we just had fun painting with cold watercolors!

Oops, some ended up on the floor. At least it’s easy to clean!

We also played with play dough – white, of course, for snow. Playing on little plates or trays helps keep it contained and makes cleanup a lot easier. We used our little bears to make footprints in the “snow”!

We made some snowflakes too. I got the idea from No Time for Flashcards - we used wine corks to stamp white paint on them.

I think they turned out pretty nice, and the children often point up to where they’re hanging and say, “Snowflake!”

Then we played some more with ice! I froze some water on a cookie sheet, then let the kids have at it! They felt it (“Cold!”), moved their hands around on it (I tried to get them to finger ice skate), but then let the bears play on it instead! 

This was a little impromptu learning activity. I had some cotton batting that I set on top of the shelf to seem like “snow.” Our counting bears were nearby. It seems they fancied a frolic in the snow! Some of them even laid down because they were “tired.” One student was very concerned that the bears needed “jackets”!

We made another beautiful snowflake too. I love making resist art using tape, especially for toddlers. It is easy for them to fingerpaint over the shape, and when it dries and you remove the tape, they’re left with a beautiful, recognizable masterpiece!

This was the stunning result. Thanks to Inner Child Fun for the idea!

We always have something fun on our felt board. Here were our snowmen and panda bears (our colors of the month are black and white). I don’t think I set these up – they were sorted by the children and arranged in little groups. Some of them were even counted.

And finally, here is a cute footprint penguin we each made – thanks to Meet the Dubiens for the idea!


  1. This is a great collection of winter ideas! We're from North Carolina where it's been really warm too. Lots of books and imaginative play bring the season to life.

    1. Thank you, Amy! I enjoyed looking at your great ideas too!

  2. Where did you get such large counting bears?

    1. I looked on Amazon, and you're right - they are all smaller. I am not sure where these were purchased from - they belong to the school. This is the "toddler set" with cards so they can sort the bears by color and size. The older preschoolers also have pattern-making cards and smaller bears.

  3. Glad to know the information on preschools.
    Thanks for this important blog.
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