So many parts of the US are socked in with snow and without power today. If I could send an army of snowplows out from Minnesota, I would do it in a heartbeat, but it’s just a bit beyond my powers. SO – a mini version to keep your little ones entertained is my contribution (no glue guns = no electricity required). In fact, all the supplies I used to put this together are ones you’ll most either have at home or can easily find a substitute for.
I have boxes of plastic lids, small recycled food containers, egg cartons, scrap cardboard pieces, and other bits and bobs I’ve saved from the recycling bin. During long Minnesota cold snaps, this supply set has become invaluable. Bunded in blankets, I can pull down the ginormous box and start playing with combinations of supplies. It’s fantastic entertainment, fertile ground for creative play, and perfect for those times when everyone’s grown tired of watching movies or playing with the same old toys.
This snowplow came out of one of those random recycled parts play sessions today. There are so many ways you can take the basic ideas and apply ideas YOU might have to make it your own. Looking around the house for “headlights,” “emergency flashers,” a “cab” or possible truck parts makes for a unique little scavenger hunt too! I kept this pretty simple, but you could add moving wheels, a truck bed filled with faux salt/snow, or other creative details.
We used nuts and bolts to attach the shovel of our snowplow to the truck body, which means our shovel can actually be moved up and down to scoop and raise our faux snow. This small design choice is a handy way to incorporate some STEAM-learning, loose parts play, and fine motor development.
Minnesota celebrates the entire winter season, and has found quite a few unique ways to honor the helpers that safely see us through to spring. Sidewalk shovelers get shout-outs in the local paper and snowplows are saluted with naming contests (Plow Bunyan, Snowbegone Kenobi, Mississippi Shiver, Sir Salter Scott…the list goes on!) Once you’ve finished your own snowplow, be sure you find a fitting name for it too!
Need a city backdrop to set the stage for your snowplow play? Try making our cardboard and paper city landscape (pictured here) or create a cardboard city neighborhood with more boxes. You can even add a simple winter landscape or a forest of snowy pinecone trees for sensory play.
To make your own cardboard play snowplows you’ll need:
- A cardboard box and a couple of small crap cardboard pieces
- A paper towel tube
- Tin Foil
- 4 nuts and bolts
- A glue stick
- A plastic container
- Black tape
- Bottle caps or similar for “headlights”
- For a driver: Our free printable school bus printable (at hello, Wonderful)
- An egg carton, paint, and a foam brush for the “lights” on top
- Black construction paper for lining the back of the “truck cab” and making the “grill”
- Snow! We used polyfill, but you can use anything you prefer!
DIY Cardboard Play Snowplow Instructions:
- Prep your main cardboard plow parts
Grab a small to medium-sized box to make the main snowplow body. We turned ours inside out and retaped so the printing would be hidden.
For the plow shovel, cut a paper towel cardboard tube to the shovel length you’d prefer (we made ours a little longer than the front of our “truck”). Cut half of the tube off to create a scoop.
- Cover your shovel with tin foil and add a grill to your truck
Cover your cardboard shovel with tin foil and add paper strips to your box to create the truck grill.
- Make the arms that will hold your shovel to your snowplow
Cut small strips of cardboard and bend to create arms that attach the shovel to the front of your snowplow.
We poked two small holes in our plow shovel and each arm, then attached the arms of our snowplow with small nuts and bolts. Ours are EXTRA small only because I couldn’t find our regular-sized set. Regular-sized nuts and bolts would definitely be easier for kids to handle and screw.
- Attach the shovel to the front of your snowplow
Turn your cardboard box over and poke two small holes through the front. Push 2 nuts and bolts through the holes to attach the snowplow shovel arms to the truck body.
Once finished, tape up the bottom of your box.
- Make the accessories for your snowplow
To create a see-through truck cab, we added black electrical tape to a clear plastic container (this gives it the illusion of windows). We made some emergency lights to go on top by painting two egg carton cups orange.
You can also add headlights to your snowplow by using two plastic bottle caps.
- Add a snowplow driver
You can draw a driver on cardstock or thick construction paper and cut out to create a snowplow driver! We used one of the people from the free schoolbus printable we made for hello, Wonderful.
We also traced the shape of the bottom of our plastic container on to a piece of black paper. We cut it out and pasted it to the top of our cardboard truck body. We lined the back of the clear “cab” plastic cab with a small piece of black paper as well. This creates some contrast so our driver really pops!
And there you have it! A snowplow with a shovel you can move up and down – and it didn’t take anything more than some recycled household supplies.