5 Eco-Conscious Winter Crafts and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
“Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.” - Sydney Gurewitz Clemens
Winter is a magical season. After a way too busy summer and fall, the winter encourages me to slow down and enjoy the mundane. It helps me to rest and really appreciate the small things, like the smiles on my kids faces when they finish building a snowman, or the extra cuddles I get on those cold winter days. This rest and reflection always inspires me and brings out my creative side - that’s when we really get into crafting!
Arts and crafts are an important part of childhood. They encourage children to be creative, build fine motor skills, and help them to develop the confidence they need to succeed at many things. I had always planned to do lots of crafts and creative activities with my children, but it became challenging when I made the switch to a more sustainable lifestyle. I found that the majority of the crafts for kids created a lot more waste than I realized, but we can be thoughtful about what materials we choose to use!
Here are a few tips to help you reduce craft waste:
- Use cardboard boxes instead of paper
- Buy recycled paper
- Make your own play dough, paint, glue, etc.
- Get creative with items found outside (sticks, grass, leaves, pinecones)
- Use items that can be composted or recycled (orange peels, seeds, toilet paper rolls)
- Look for crafting materials at thrift stores
- Shop sustainable companies
- Reuse whatever you can
Nature Scavenger Hunt
I love a good scavenger hunt! It gets everyone outside enjoying the fresh air. For this activity you will need a printable scavenger hunt sheet or you can create your own. Get everyone dressed for the weather and head outside with your printable, a clipboard or surface to write on, and a marker. Have your child look around for each item or animal on the print out. When they see something that is on the list, have them colour in the box. Take your time with this. This activity is a great way to get in a little exercise and show your little ones how magical winter can be. When you get home, cuddle up on the couch with some hot cocoa!
- Paper or Winter Scavenger hunt sheet (make your own or download this one)
- Warm winter gear
- Positive mind set
- Hot cocoa
Nature Crowns for Winter Solstice
The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, marking the arrival of winter. In many cultures, the winter solstice is a celebration of the return of the sun and has been celebrated for thousands of years. The celebrations usually include gathering with loved ones, feasts, celebrating the light, and reflecting on one's journey over the past year. Creating winter solstice nature crowns is a fun way to get your kids excited about winter and the sunshine.
This activity uses a hot glue gun, so for safety, I usually build the crowns for my kids while they are out collecting decorations from nature. If you have older children, this is something they could do with a little help. These nature crowns are a fun way to spark your child's imagination!
- Large piece of felt
- Hot glue gun
- Decorations (items collected from nature)
- Twine (optional)
- Measure your child's head to ensure you have a long enough piece of felt.
- Glue two pieces of felt together to make it extra sturdy.
- Using a ruler, draw and cut out the crown shape on the felt.
- Once you have the shape you want, glue both ends together to make a circle.
- Glue twine around the bottom of the crown.
- Go outside and have your child/children find decorations from nature to glue onto the crown.
- Glue decorations onto the crown.
Nothing says winter like snowflake crafts! This activity is a creative way to get your children comfortable tracing letters and using glue on their own.
- Paper (dark colour)
- Draw a snowflake and your child's name on the paper. If your child is old enough, they can do this step!
- Have the child trace the snowflake and their name with white glue.
- Place the paper in the sink or a tray and let your child shake the salt onto their paper.
- Shake off the excess salt into the sink.
- Let it dry completely and admire your child's creation!
Ice Cube Soup
Sensory bins are a favourite around here! They are a great way for kids to explore and learn with hands-on play. They are easy to set up and lots of fun for every age group. This activity couldn’t be any more simple. All you need is ice, water, a bucket or sensory table, some containers, and don’t forget the towels! Once you are all set up, sit back and sip your coffee while your kids play!
- Large bowl or sensory table
- Ice cubes
- Spoons, small bowls, tongs, etc.
- Fill your sensory table with ice and water.
- Throw in some spoons, bowls, tongs, or whatever you (and your kids!) can find in your kitchen or around the house.
- Everything is going to get wet! Be prepared with a towel.
Fruit + Veggie Stamps
Fruit and veggie stamps are so much fun, and after a good rinse, can be thrown right into the compost. If you have any cardboard boxes lying around, use those instead of fresh paper. This activity allows your child to create a fun pattern, or they can just get wild and stamp everywhere! This is also a great opportunity to allow your child to practice using a knife, with supervision.
- Paint brushes
- Apples, potatoes, orange, or any fruit or veggies you have
- Paper or cardboard
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- Cut your fruit and veggies of choice in half.
- Cut various shapes into the hard produce, such as potatoes.
- Have the child paint the fruit and vegetables or dip it and stamp it onto their paper.
A Winter World of Possibilities
Winter is a time to slow down, reflect, and get creative! There are so many fun eco-conscious crafts and activities you can do with your little ones. Start with these 5 activities and see where your imagination takes you. Allowing our children to discover their creative sides opens up a world of possibilities for them. It builds their confidence, inspires their imaginations, and develops amazing skills.