On Friday morning I woke up to a blanket of freshly laid snow, pristine and sparkling against the dim grey of the sky. I hadn’t been expecting it and it was quite a shame that the kids had to go to school! I didn’t want them to miss out, so I nipped out and scooped some into a plastic tub and popped it into the freezer to use later. After all, we’re almost in April, so the chances of the snow sticking around weren’t high… right?
Wrong. That day and into that night, the snow fell and fell and fell. It did not stop. And on Saturday morning the blanket that had greeted me on Friday was now a princely duvet of extreme proportions! So, naturally, we had a snowy weekend.
Three types of snow in the sand tray
- Our sand tray has three portions so I decided to fill it with three different types of snow. In the first tray I poured some dry soap flakes and as I did, we talked about how they looked like snow flakes falling. The preschooler noted that they were ‘more heavy’ than real snowflakes.
- In the middle tray, I poured the preschooler’s ‘cooking ingredients’. This is a bowl of oats and flour he loves to play with. I sprinkled a few silver ball cake decorations inside too, to give it added texture and shimmer.
- In the last tray, we added our home-made snow. This was made a few months ago from cornflour and a little vegetable oil. We added glitter to make it shine too. This is great stuff (I believe the original recipe came from The Imagination Tree) and we spent a long time squashing it between our fingers and talking about how it felt.
The preschooler spent a long time playing at the sand tray, and at one point The Big One and the baby were all digging in. Before long the three mixtures began to get muddled up and we found this was an ideal opportunity to talk about separating them, if we could. The Big One used a sieve and showed the preschooler how to shake it side to side to ‘find treasures’. He was delighted to find the silver balls in the bottom of the sieve and soon decided that he would bury some treasure to find too.
We talked about the different textures, compared them to real snow and talked about how they felt against our skin. The preschooler spent a long time digging and sieving and burying his fingers in the mixtures. He even had a little go at making patterns with his fingers.
Two types of snow in the Tuff Spot
We LOVE our tuff spot! I wanted to make a snowy scene so I dug out our tub of polystyrene pieces and scattered them inside the tuff spot. I then added a few toy cars, trucks and emergency vehicles, before adding the second type of snow- shaving foam. The preschooler was a little unsure at first because he isn’t keen on getting his hands ‘dirty’ but he was happy to use the cars to drive through the snowy hills. We talked about:
- the different textures of the polystyrene and the shaving foam
- the different tracks that the different vehicles made in the snow
- how some toy cars moved more easily through the snow than others
- how real cars have to take care in the snow as it was difficult for the wheels to move
The Big One then decided to join us, which was a massive step for her. She has had a phobia about foam since she was really little and while she only briefly dipped her fingers in the mixture before running away to wash her hands, it was still a huge achievement.
We even squeezed in a little letters and sounds work. I asked the preschooler what sound the word snow started with and he knew it was the sound ‘s’. He helped me to sound out the word ‘snow’ and later on we practised writing his name in the foam. The preschooler drew a letter ‘L’ after it was modelled and he was very proud of himself!
Real snow in the Tuff Spot
The last type of snow we played with this weekend was the real thing! We rescued our stash from the freezer and added some more from the garden too. Before we did that, we talked about what kinds of animals lived in snowy conditions. The preschooler helped me to find as many toy penguins and polar bears as we could find. We also collected some snow dogs and other vehicles that could be used in snowy weather. All three had great fun:
- talking about how cold the snow was
- talking about the different shapes they could make with moulds, or with their hands
- talking about how the snow was melting and why
- painting the snow
- making snow explosions- collecting the snow in a cup and letting it fall onto the tuff spot from a height
- stepping- gingerly- onto the snow and talking about how it felt
- painting the feet of the different toy animals and printing them onto the snow
- once again, we talked about the initial sound of the word ‘snow’ and the preschooler helped me to paint the letter ‘s’ into the snow
Once more, the preschooler wasn’t too keen on touching the snow for long, and he soon moved onto painting his own feet and legs, talking about how the paint felt ‘slimy’ and ‘cold’. The Big One spent ages making different shapes with the snow and painting them. After a while the preschooler asked why the snow was disappearing so we talked about the temperature in the room and how it made the snow melt.
We rounded off the snowy weekend with some books focused on snowy weather, and after a quick run outside we read these stories with a cup of hot chocolate!
So there you have it. 6 different types of snow for a weekend of snowy sensory play!