Indoor Winter Activities: Sand Play

There are so many ways to play and learn with sand when you bring it indoors. Contrary to angry people on Pinterest, when sand gets out of the indoor sand box, you can vacuum it up and it does not ruin carpet. An indoor sand table or box is one of our favorite indoor winter activities. 

winter activities for kids

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I’ve had this sand play area set up in  our water table  for quite some time now, simply because the kids play with it almost every day. In addition to free play, we incorporate it into our learning. While I read to them about ancient Egypt, they played with the  Ancient Egypt TOOB figures in the sand table.

Next to the table filled with sand, we keep lots of fun things:  A container of plants (from the dollar store) and a container of animals and people.

indoor activities for kids in winter We also have gems, crystals, hearts (all from the dollar store), shells we’ve collected at the beach and a box of  fine motor tools.

Winter Indoor Activities for Kids We leave the table out in our sunroom, ready for play at any time. My kids are 8 and nearly 6 so the issue of throwing sand has long been resolved. Occasionally, if we have friends over with a toddler, we have the option of covering the table up. We also do not have cats, so that is a plus. People often feel the need to remind me that open sand containers indoors are not a good idea if you have cats. I get it. Cats and sand are a no no. Ditto babies and toddlers. 

Indoor activities for kids in winter

 More ways to use a sand/water table indoors:

Nature Explorers: Painting in the Woods

The pairing of children with nature.  

Because when given the opportunity to experience nature in an unstructured, organic way, children are more likely to carry that experience with them throughout their lives, where they can, in turn, create those experiences for future generations.

Learning with kids in a natural environment. How to gather a group to explore and learn together.

Our group of 5- and 6-year-old explorers and their siblings meet about twice a month to make friends, have fun and explore nature in a very unstructured way.  

The Premise:  Provide a set of tools to the kids, little to no instructions, and let them choose the direction of their play. Watch creativity and learning unfold, and friendships, too. 

This weeks’ tools:  Paint brushes, washable non-toxic paint and large pieces of paper. 

The Place: A wooded area with large boulders.

After a brief safety discussion about climbing on the boulders, we spread the sheets of paper out and showed the children where the washable, non-toxic paint (not harmful to plants or wildlife) and brushes were located.  Some ran to climb the rocks first. Some asked for paint right away. Nearly all the kids painted at some point. Some painted on the paper, some painted on sticks, rocks, boulders, logs, leaves and nuts that had fallen from the trees.  Some painted collaboratively, some painted alone.

The children decided when they had enough of painting and ran off to explore the woods, with a few of the grownups.  They played with sticks and built a tipi, climbed on the rocks, and explored the paths.  Games of pretend play abounded.

We used a large jug of water to wash away the paint on the rocks and ground. The next rain will take care of any traces that are left.  Some children chose to take their paintings home, others seemed content to have enjoyed the process of making something.

Pictured below: Two of our Nature Explorers running through the woods after painting. 

  Rachel Carson Quote

{This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, it costs the same, but I receive a small commission to buy more art supplies, books or coffee. Thank you! Also, I only link to products that we use and love.}

 Resources

  • Recommended reading:  Rachel Carson’s, The Sense of Wonder
  • Our favorite paint.  Simply Washable Tempera paint from Discount School Supply. We’ve been using this paint for all projects requiring washable paint for the past six years. Click on the photo below to see (awesome) prices.

Fine Motor Activities ~ Scissor Skills

Preschool and kindergarten work often includes fine motor activities such as scissor skills to strengthen little hands in preparation for writing, manipulating zippers and buttons and so much more. Here’s a fun activity for practicing cutting skills with some really big bang fun at the end.

Fine Motor Activities: Scissor Skills for Preschool and Kindergarten

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When my 5-year-old was getting extremely frustrated with a scissor skills worksheet, I knew we needed to take a step back. Offering him scraps of foam to cut freehand, not having to follow the lines on the worksheet took away the frustration factor.   Foam is very satisfying to cut. He became very intent on cutting the tiniest little pieces, turning the foam and manipulating the scissors. Yes! That’s exactly what I had in mind.

Fine Motor Skills: Working with scissors and foam.

We are using  left-handed scissors . All 3 of my kids are left-handed and when I was working with my middle child on scissor skills, it suddenly dawned on me that maybe her challenge with this activity had to do with using a right-handed scissors with her left hand. My oldest left-handed child actually prefers to use scissors and dribble a ball with his right hand. But once my middle child had a left-handed scissors, her cutting skills were the bomb. 

Left handed scissors for kids.

Once we had a good pile of confetti, we used a funnel to put some inside 3 balloons. We blew up the balloons and then I gave him a pin (with supervision, of course) to pop them. How fun to see this big confetti explosion! Sadly, I did not get a good photo of that but I’m sure you can imagine how delighted he was to do this.

And now I am going to show you an amazing object for cleaning up this big confetti mess, since I often get critical comments on some of my messier kid activities about how MESSY they are (except most of those are not worded so nicely so I delete them). 

Look. It’s called a Vacuum Cleaner. You can buy them on Amazon! I know! Isn’t it awesome? And here is a blurry picture taken with my phone of my child strengthening his gross motor skills by using this amazing invention. Isn’t that great? [end of sarcastic rant]

Don't be afraid of messy learning projects.

Messy Play and Learning Activities: Love Bug vacuuming up confetti NEXT TO our water table which is filled with sand. We are really living on the edge here.

 

For more ideas, messy and not so messy, follow along on Pinterest.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Preschool: Learning is Fun! on Pinterest.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Kindergarten on Pinterest.

Fun Art Projects for Kids ~ Painting On Trees

Did you know you could paint trees? Never really thought about it, did you? Me either. Until the other day, when my kids and I stumbled upon the idea, playing with art supplies outside. If you’re looking for fun art projects for kids this summer, add this to your list. It’s fun and can be done over and over again. All you need is a little paint. . 

Summer Art Projects for Kids ~~ Painting Trees from Creekside Learning

No trees were harmed in this art project.  We used {affiliate link*} Washable Liquid Tempera Paint.  Indeed, it washed off with a rain storm later that night. 

We painted with brushes…

Paint a tree. Info on paint that won't harm trees. From Creekside Learning.

…and, we painted with our hands. What a great sensory experience! The cool paint going onto hands with tickly brushes, feeling the rough bark of the tree and the patterns in the lines of bark.

  Sensory Art: Painting Trees With Our Hands | Creekside Learning

 You might also enjoy…

Summer Art for Kids:  Painting Trees from Creekside Learning.

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Follow Creekside Learning on Pinterest.
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Beach Time

The Creekside Learning family is on vacation this week. The beach was calling. We answered. 

“Hello, Ocean. I’m here.”

creekside learning

We will be back soon. I have lots of exciting new posts brewing. In the meantime, the Hands-On Science and Preschool: Learning Is Fun! boards are hopping over on Pinterest. Check them out, repin and follow to get more great learning ideas in your Pinterest feed.

Follow along on our travels on Instagram. Creekside Learning