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It’s officially winter! The snow is here early and it is brrr-eezy and cold. If you’re looking for a cozy indoor activity for restless littles, you’ll love these gingerbread and snowman winter sensory play activity! The setup is quick and easy, and you can add a seasonal scent to your playdough as we did – our activity table smells just like the holidays!
We printed out a set of playdough mat (with some wintry hats that can be used to dress up playdough creations – after all, it’s hard to make a Frosty without a top hat, right?). Tip: These can easily be used as coloring pages if playdough isn’t your thing.
To make your own winter playdough sensory activity you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- 1-3 Sheets of construction paper or cardstock
- Our Winter Playdough Mats Printable PDF
- 1-3 Self-Laminating Sheet (we used these Scotch brand sheets) or a gallon ziplock bag
- Playdough (you can use store-bought, or this recipe to make your own)
- Ground spices or food-grade oil extracts to add to your playdough (I used Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove and candy peppermint oil extract)
Winter Playdough Sensory Activity Instructions:
- Print out playdough mats, cut out and laminate
Download our Winter Playdough Mats Printable PDF set and print the desired pages onto cardstock or construction paper. For playdough play, I find it’s best to laminate them in a self-laminating sheet like these so they can be used over and over.
For a more earth-friendly option, you can slip your printed mat into a gallon zip-lock bag and tape the edges down to the table. When you’re done you’ll be able to take the paper out and save it for later, rinse the bag, and use it again!
Don’t want to download or print? You can draw your own simple gingerbread and snowman outlines on a piece of paper. Tracing around winter-themed cookie cutters works well too!
- Add holiday scents and color to the playdough
I made our playdough from scratch using this recipe, but you can use pre-made if you prefer. For the rich brown and bright red hues I was looking for, I’ve found food coloring gels are the easiest way to get true, vibrant colors. To add to the sensory experience and winter feels, I scented mine with some spices and candy oil or oil extracts.
I added about 1/4 tsp. each of ground cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and clove to the brown playdough for a gingerbread scent.
I gave the red and white play dough a peppermint scent by adding a drop of candy oil. You can also add glitter (you can find our taste-safe DIY glitter recipe here) or sparkling sugar to your dough for a bit of snowy sparkle**
**MESS WARNING…I was working with a 3-year-old who absolutely loved seeing the sparkling sugar “snow” in the playdough, but after about 3 minutes in her hot little hands, it got fairly goopy/sticky. She didn’t mind at all, but if you don’t love the mess of it, or have a kiddo who’s anxious about getting sticky fingers, skip the sugar and use our salt glitter or eco-friendly biodegradable kind instead.
Last year I took a set of scented playdoughs and mats to our extended family Thanksgiving and WHAT a HIT! It was so wonderful to have some fuss-free kid entertainment at the ready, so this year I designed these printable mini Thanksgiving doodle books as an addition to our attempt at effortless Turkey Day festivities.
This is such wonderfully easy sensory play for little ones. If you’re looking for similar activities, our mini winter sensory garden or this pine tree farm small world (made of pinecones!) is going to be right up your alley. And this collection of simple winter toddler activities is guaranteed to keep your kiddos entertained and engaged.
For a few more instant play printable options, be sure to visit our free printable play winter forest, download and personalize your own Santagram, or make a beautiful watercolor peace and love wreath together.
*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!