Sensory Play: Two-Ingredient Snow Dough
BY JEN KOSSOWAN, MAMA. PAPA. BUBBA.
Jan 11, 2017
Snow! We’ve been lucky enough to have a ton of it here on the West Coast this winter and the kids have just been loving it. Since it usually doesn’t stick around for long, we’ve been making the most of it by playing outside each day, whipping up batches of snow ice cream, bringing snow inside to play with and even painting the snow in our front yard using our go-to snow spray painting technique. Inevitably, it’ll eventually melt, but we’ve got a plan to keep the snow fun going long after it’s gone — snow dough!
If you’ve not made snow dough before, you must! It’s light and fluffy just like freshly fallen snow, it’s cool to the touch and it can be moulded into snowballs just like regular snow can be. Best of all, it’s made of just two key ingredients, both of which you most likely have in your kitchen right now.
Here’s what you’ll need to whip up a batch of snow dough of your own:
- baking soda
- water in a spray bottle
- glitter (optional, but lovely)
Ready for how easy this is? Simply pour your baking soda into a large mixing bowl and alternate spraying it with water while mixing it. Oh, and if you’re adding glitter, add that into the mix too. When it’s ready, the snow dough will still be very loose and fluffy, but it’ll easily come together into a ball when you squeeze it in your hands.
No need to measure the ingredients exactly as you really can’t go wrong here, but for reference, we usually use approximately 1/2 a cup of water for three 500 gram boxes of baking soda.
Once you have your snow dough made, you have all kinds of play options depending on the ages and interests of your kids. I have a one-year-old and a six-year-old (who are obviously very different in interests and abilities), and both munchkins enjoy exploring this dough thoroughly. I’ll show you exactly how I switch things up to make this activity engaging for both, but first — a friendly reminder on the importance of supervising your children during play.
As harmless as they seem, many ingredients we use regularly in our kitchens and homes, like salt and baking soda, can actually be quite harmful to young children if eaten in large amounts. Of course, a tiny taste or a little lick isn’t the end of the world, but it’s definitely something to be conscious of. As with any sensory activity, supervision is key!
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Alright, with that out of the way, back to our snow dough. First up, the setup for my one-year-old. He’s quite new to the world of messy sensory play, so for him, I simply put the snow dough into a big shallow bin and placed it on a large drop cloth in the middle of our playroom. Nothing fancy, just a new material to explore.
Once he'd warmed up to the snow dough, I added a simple scoop and cup into the mix, but he was more interested in running his hands through the soft dough. When it comes to sensory play, especially with young toddlers, I find the best thing you can do is not have any expectations. Set out the materials, allow them to explore (under your direct supervision, of course), and see where they take the activity. If it only lasts five minutes and consists of them simply touching the material, that’s absolutely fine and normal. They’re still exploring, discovering, and observing — all wonderful things!
Now onto the setup for my six-year-old. She loves imaginary play and setting up elaborate play scenes, so I presented her with the same bin of snow dough, but added iridescent glitter to it and popped the whole thing into the freezer for about 30 minutes beforehand.
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I also set out a tray of loose parts for her to incorporate into her play. These bits and bobs can be anything really, but I ran with the snow theme and included some tree and arctic animal figures, some marbles and glass gems, as well as some fabric snowflakes. You can find all of these loose parts at craft stores, but dollar stores are a great place to look too.
As with my younger one, I sat back and observed while she drove the activity. First up, she explored the dough on it’s own, running her hands through it and commenting on how fluffy and cool it felt.
She quickly realized that the dough was mouldable and ran to get a chocolate mould to experiment with, which I thought was quite clever. I often find that kids do this — find interesting objects and tools to bring into their sensory play — when you let them lead the activity. Not only does it keep them interested, but it extends the life of the activity too — both good things!
Next, she moved into using the loose parts to create the most beautiful snowy play scene, complete with a bear den, frozen ponds and a narrative to accompany it all. This combination of story telling and small world with sensory play continued for ages, and when she was done with one storyline, she dismantled the scene and began fresh with a new one.
Afterwards, we scooped the snow dough into a large zip-close bag where it’ll stay until we’re ready to play with it again. If needed, a little extra water from a spray bottle will bring it back to life and it’ll be as good as new.
However your kiddos choose to play, we hope they enjoy snow dough as much as we do!