Arctic for Kids is our Winter Sensory Play idea that is great a year round, but we tend to do it more often when the temperatures start plunging and horrid winds begin to howl outside. In a warmer weather there is no end of activities to do outside. Sensory bins are one of our favorite forms of entertainment during the long Chicago winters. The idea for this one was born when my oldest was about one. At that time the only way to take a shower was to find something interesting for him to do on bathroom floor in front of a shower cabin. I was constantly on a lookout for things that might be considered entertaining from a perspective of a 1-year old. (That’s how I gave my son a bowl of strawberry jam to use as finger paint on a piece of paper. “The finger paint” ended up everywhere but on aforementioned piece of paper).
One day as I was standing in a kitchen scratching my head and thinking, “I just have to take a shower,” my eyes fell on a bag of potato flakes. I bought it a while previously for a complicated Sheppard Pie recipe but since I have an inherent distaste of any processed ingredients, I never got around to using it. It was an all natural product without any perseveres, so I poured it into a bowl and took it with us into the bathroom, thus setting off a chain of events that culminated in hair pulling and lamenting, “Why did I ever give it to him!” I’m kidding! It’s extremely easy to clean, nothing like jam in a hair or glue on a carpet. My son was extremely happy to run his hands through potato flakes and threw it around just a bit more energetically than was strictly necessary from my point of view.
Just as I begun relaxing into the hot water and congratulating myself on the longest shower of the year, my son got bored with the entertainment. I could see him pondering the next move through the glass door. In a fit of clarity I filled a cup with water and suggested he add it to the potato flakes. It turned out that dried potatoes mixed with water are a whole new game. Later I learned that the play lasts longer, if I add some little animals to move in “the snow.” And in the later years we added a frozen body of water as well. This activity is easy to set up and offers hours of fun. Ok, maybe not hours, but definitely enough time for you to take a shower or read a page in your book. I will give you instruction for what we made last week.
Arctic for Kids
What you need
Bag of potato flakes (instant Mashed potatoes)
Set of Arctic animals (we used Safari Ltd kit because we are madly in love with all their kits. I think we own pretty much all of them by now)
Chunk of ice Glitter (optional)
- Day before fill a small bowl with water and stick it in a freezer.
Our water happened to be blue because we were experimenting with sprinkles. Did you know that blue sprinkles added to a cup of water turn the water bright blue? Imagine what it does to the lining of stomach. Potent stuff that is indeed. My kids were sad when I told them I consider it too poisonous to be ingested, but I let them play with it. (And by the way, the fact that my nails happened to be blue is pure coincidence!)
- Place your chunk of ice on a tray or on a large plate and add potato flakes.
- Add sprinkles generously
- Add the set of characters. Safari Ltd kits is my little obsession. I buy every one I see and we use them ALL THE TIME. Each little container contains everything you might possibly need to have a visual of a particular topic. For example, in this set there are Arctic animals, Eskimo hunter, and igloo. Imagine, if you had to explain these concepts to your kids without a benefit of visuals or if you had to go and find full size toys.
- You are all done. Go get a cup of tea, while kids play.
Oh wait! If you are interested, here are some other amazing Arctic Resources:
- If you are looking for interesting facts to share with your kids, while they are playing, you can find them at Science Kids.
- Looking for Arctic crafts? Here you can find 20 Arctic Animals Crafts for Kids from I Heart Crafty Things.
- Free Awesome Arctic Animals packet from Preschool Powol Packets,
- Arctic Animals maze pack from Year Round Homeschooling and
- 30 pages of reading and spelling activities from All About Learning Press.
Do you have any favorite winter activities? Disclaimer: This post contains amazon affiliate links. If you click on my link and purchase something, I will receive a small percent of your purchase at no extra cost to you.