These winter messy play ideas are sure to wow the kids and keep them engaged during those cold winter days.
Related: Summer Messy Play Ideas
What’s the weather like where you are during the winter? Snowy and cold or a bit more temperate?
I know that some schools are very particular about when the children get outside to play in the winter. Others abide by Alfred Wainwright’s school of thought:
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing.
If you and the kids end up stuck inside longer than you’d prefer this winter, be sure to break out these winter-themed messy play activities.
Honestly, even if you’re not stuck inside, try some of these out!
Winter Messy Play Ideas for Kids
Why should you try messy play with the kids this winter? Oh so many reasons! Here are just a few:
- Messy play engages the children’s sense of touch, helping them to explore the world around them (as well as new-to-them materials).
- The kids’ imaginations are given a bit more free reign.
- Creativity! Freedom of expression!
- It offers the children many chances to expand their vocabularies.
Below you’ll find a variety of winter messy play ideas to try with your students, both inside and outside.
I’ve broken the ideas down into two main categories – winter sensory play and messy winter art.
Jump to the section you’d prefer to start and pick your favorite idea.
Related: Spring Messy Play Ideas
Messy Winter Sensory Play
Okay let’s jump right into some fun winter messy play ideas!
We’re starting with sensory ideas just because.
It’s winter, so you need a pretend snow recipe, right?! Learn how to make fake snow with flour with the kids. Sparkles are optional, and I love that there’s a tip for making it taste-safe for younger kids.
Name Ice Play
Make some icy letters with water, paint, and glitter. Then let the kids play and explore the ice, and encourage them to experiment with some name ice melting while they’re at it.
Arctic Sensory Play
Set up an Arctic small world sensory play experience for the kids this winter. Pair the Arctic animal toys with your favorite fake snow and watch the messy fun!
Icy Water Beads
Add some ice and water beads to your sensory table over the weekend. Or some instant snow and winter animal toys. You can even add a little blubber activity to show children how the animals stay warm in the winter. Just keep a close eye on everything!
Teach the kids to make their own snow dough like Gift of Curiosity. They can use it to build snowmen, create scenes for winter animals, or just manipulate it with their fingers.
Melted Snowman Sensory Play
Still Playing School’s melted snowman oobleck is a MUST for your collection of winter messy play ideas. Tons of science and sensory fun with a snowman theme.
How fun is this snowball surprise soap from Gluesticks Blog? I think it would be even more fun to put all the grated soap in a sensory bin prior to the actual surprise soap making part of the activity!
Has it snowed where you live yet? If so, why not take the kids outside and make a snow volcano like Messy Little Monster! You could also bring the snow in if you’ve got a big enough sensory table to work with.
Instant Snow Sensory Table
You can’t forget instant snow when talking about messy play ideas for winter! Add some instant snow in the sensory table like PreKinders did and watch the children’s eyes go big and round!
Polar Animal Play
Try setting up Picklebum’s polar habitat imaginative play. This would be perfect inside or outside during the winter, and a great way to talk about different polar animals.
Freeze the Oobleck
Messy Little Monster’s frozen oobleck sensory play looks absolutely delightful! Messy and super entertaining for the children.
Winter Slime Recipes
Your winter sensory ideas list needs to have some wintery slime on it! Try one of these ideas:
Related: Winter Songs for Preschoolers
Messy Winter Art for Kids
I know when people think messy play, they often focus in on just sensory play.
Teachers and parents of young children can tell you that art can be rather messy too! So I didn’t want to leave it out.
Check out some winter messy play ideas that are focused in on creating art with the kids.
Names with Marshmallows
This activity is on the lower end of messy, but it can definitely fit the bill! Take my word for it. Make some marshmallow names with the kids this winter.
Pine Tree Collaborative Art
Winter is just the time to learn more about evergreen trees. Break out the pine branches, pine cones, and paint for this pine tree art project the kids will love.
Make Your Own Bulletin Board Borders
You just need some paper, paint, and cookie cutters (and willing kids!) to create child-made bulletin board borders. Messy art fun that doubles as classroom decorations, for the win.
Some children love using their hands to make art, and I have to admit I love how such art turns out! Let the kids make their own winter hand print trees as part of your messy art experience.
Snowy Pet Tracks
This pet-themed art project should definitely be considered for your list of winter messy play ideas. Let your students pretend their pets are tromping through the snow and painting that “snow” onto a piece of paper.
Spin Art Snowflakes
School Time Snippets will make you want to break out the salad spinner for this messy art project. Help the children make their own tie-dyed spin art snowflakes this winter.
Glittery Icicle Art
This art activity from Mommy’s Bundle is a great way to explore gravity and lead into a discussion about how icicles form. Plus, there’s glitter! Make some icicle art with your kids this winter.
Melted Snowman Art
The children can definitely help you make the puffy paint base of this melted snowman art project. Tons of tactile art messiness from Messy Little Monster here!
This is one of those winter messy play ideas you can do inside or outside (if you have snow)! Break out some paint and some sponges and get to painting the snow like Creative Family Fun.
Big Wooden Snowflake
What a gloriously messy collaborative art project to try with your students this winter! Paint and decorate large snowflakes with Teaching 2 and 3 Year Old’s wooden snowflake craft. I’m positive the kiddos will love it.
Mama Smiles’ painting with icicles idea is both messy and not-too-messy. Yes, there’s messy, but it’s mostly in the form of melting icicles. This would be fun to try inside first, and then take it outside and see if the colder temperatures have an effect on the painting process.
Shaving Cream Marbling
Learning and Exploring Through Play’s winter marbling art combines sensory play and art for a super creative messy activity. You can do so many different variations of this with your students!
Super Colorful Snowflakes
I have to admit, I have been a bit in love with Babble Dabble Do’s psychedelic snowflakes since I first saw them. They’re bright and cheerful and one of those crazy fun messy activities that keeps the kids smiling.
My Bored Toddler’s snowy winter trees are simplistically messy, which makes them likely to be a hit with kids from toddlers on up. And they’re a great way to segue into a conversation about evergreen trees and snowy weather.
Pour Painted Snowflakes
Add Twitchetts’ pour painted snowflake decorations to your messy winter ideas list right now. Love the tip about what to add to the paint to make it pourable and keep the paint separated. So many ways to use this!
Tissue Paper Snow Art
I think this would be another great messy art idea to try both inside and outside with the kids. Fireflies and Mud Pies’ tissue paper art with snow can be as colorful as the kids want, and it’s open-ended with so many creative possibilities.
Now comes the hard part. Which of these awesome winter messy play ideas are you going to start with?
I know, I know. I’m having trouble picking just one, too.
Done-For-You Winter Resources
Check out these winter resources from Preschool Teacher 101.
Click on the photos below for more information: