Arctic Sensory Play for Babies and Toddlers

Playing in the snow is so much fun, but when it’s single or even negative digits outside, I think we’ll stay inside.

My toddler has been dying to play in the snow though, so I thought why not just bring the snow inside? It’ll be a great way for my baby to explore with his senses and a great learning opportunity for my toddler. So, we decided to make a whole arctic sensory activity out of it!

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How to Create an Arctic Sensory Activity for Your Baby and Toddler

Here’s what we did for our Arctic sensory activity and how you can create your very own. It’s super simple and tons of fun.

Materials Needed

The first step to creating your arctic sensory play is to gather all your supplies. You will need:

  • Large storage containers
  • Towels to contain the mess
  • Arctic wildlife figurines
  • A globe or map
  • Play shovels and/or measuring cups
  • Warm water
  • Lots of snow!

ALTERNATIVE SNOW: If you’re just doing this activity with your toddler and don’t have any snow near you, you could also try out this two ingredient fake snow.

We prefer Schleich figurines over at our house because they’re such high quality and look so realistic, but you could use any kind of toy animals. We just used polar animals we already had lying around, but here’s a whole list of arctic wildlife you could choose from:

  • Polar Bear
  • Walrus
  • Snowy Owl
  • Arctic Fox
  • Arctic Wolf
  • Caribou/Reindeer
  • Spotted Seal
  • Moose
  • Puffin
  • Musk Oxen
  • Narwhal

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Prepare Your Sensory Bins

STEP 1: After you’ve gathered all your materials, it’s time to start setting up. While your baby and/or toddler are in a safe place, run outside and fill one of your tubs with lots and lots of snow.

PRO TIP: Place some ice underneath all that snow to help it last longer inside.

STEP 2: Once you’ve got your snow, start “carving” out some snow mountains and “ice bergs.” You could even use dye-free food coloring to add some blue to your “ice,” but we just didn’t have any on hand this day.

STEP 3: Grab your other sensory bin and fill it with warm water to replicate the Arctic Ocean. Obviously, there isn’t warm water in the Arctic, but it will be nice for your littles to dip their hands in after touching the cold snow.

STEP 4: Set up your arctic figurines in the sensory bins and place the bins on a bunch of towels. Grab your globe or map and set it nearby (but far enough away where it won’t get wet). We ended setting up right by the heater to help stay nice and warm during this cold activity.

Learn Through Play

Now that you’ve got your arctic bins all set up, it’s time to start playing and learning! Let your kids dive in.

While your littles are playing, talk about the different names of the animals and what they eat. When there’s a slow point, grab your globe and point out where these animals live. Describe what their environment is like in the Arctic. Keep your learning points short and simple. Here are a few examples you can use:

  • It is very, very cold in the Arctic and there is snow there for most of the year
  • Polar bears have a thick layer of fat, called blubber, to help keep them warm
  • You can find spotted seals, walruses, and narwhals swimming in the Arctic waters
  • Baby seals are called pups
  • Walruses eat clams, worms, and sometimes fish

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Your baby will be able to explore the cold through touch and learn what this snow is all about. My baby also worked on his fine motor skills by grabbing the animals and transferring them from the snow to the water. He seemed to really like the seal. He also may have ended up eating a little bit of the snow. 🙂

My toddler also worked on her fine-motor skills by shoveling the snow and pouring it into the water. She really enjoyed watching it dissolve.

The dog was also very intrigued!

My kids ended up playing for a good 45 minutes. We did end up stripping down to diapers and undies after their clothes got pretty wet, but they stayed nice and warm since we were right next to the heater. The snow also went unmelted that entire time, so I think having the ice underneath of it really helped.

I’d say this snow sensory play was quite a success! I think next time we’ll make it an Antarctica sensory bin and use emperor penguins, king penguins, elephant seals, and orcas.

To end the activity, we snuggled up on the couch to warm up and enjoyed watching the Wild Kratts Wild Winter Creatures dvd. And, baby boy passed out hard. I think we wore him out. 🙂

Enjoy This Post? 

Let us know what your littles thought of this activity in the comments below, and be sure to share this post with all your new mom friends.

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