5 Winter-Themed Sensory Activities for Your Calming Corner

emotional intelligence 

By Rebecca Eanes

5 Winter-Themed Sensory Activities for Your Calming Corner

Could your Calming Corner use a little seasonal cheer? 

When my children were young, they loved their Calming Corner, and now that they are teens who articulate their emotions, I’m glad I provided them that space. Over the years, I enjoyed adding new and seasonal items and activities to their corner to keep it fresh and engaging. 

If you’re new to the idea of a Calming Corner, you can read about its purpose and how to set one up here

Basically, a Calming Corner is a designated space where your child can go for a Time-In or just to calm their brains and bodies and relax. In addition to the Time-In ToolKit, which has everything you need to teach your child the skill of emotional regulation, you and your child can choose to add various types of sensory items and calming activities to your space. 

To celebrate the arrival of winter, I’ve gathered five of my favorite winter-themed calming corner additions.

DIY Snow Globe Sensory Jar 

I love shaking up a snow globe and watching the snow swirl and settle. There’s something so mesmerizing and soothing about it. 

To create your own snow globe, you’ll need:

  • A small mason jar
  • A hot glue gun 
  • Glitter or confetti
  • Elmer’s clear glue 
  • An optional winter figurine, such as a small snowman. 

Begin by hot gluing your mason jar’s lid components together to prevent leaks, and then hot glue the figurine to the inside of the lid so that it will face upside down when you place the lid on the jar. 

Next, fill the jar approximately 30% full with clear glue. 

Add glitter or confetti and fill the rest of the way with hot water, leaving a bit of room at the top, and stir. 

Quickly pipe a thick ring of hot glue around the inside of the lid and screw the lid on as tight as you can. 

Let dry, and shake! 

If you’re not crazy about giving your little one glass, you can purchase empty plastic snow globes at craft stores!

No-Cook Winter Playdough

Playdough is another wonderfully calming sensory activity. This recipe will make one big ball of glittery, snowy-looking playdough.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ½ cup table salt
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ⅓ cup glitter

Simply mix the dry ingredients and add the oil and boiling water and then stir. Knead it for a bit to make the stickiness go away.

If you’d like your playdough to smell like a candy cane, try adding 3 drops of peppermint essential oil, or experiment by adding 3 tbsp of cocoa and a tsp of peppermint extract for mint chocolate playdough! Yum! (Just don’t let the kiddos eat it.)

Rice Sensory Bin

One of my kids’ favorite items in their Calming Corner was a scented rice sensory bin. Let’s make this winter-themed!

You’ll need:

  • A small plastic container with a lid 
  • Rice
  • Cotton balls
  • Dry pasta
  • Spoon
  • Small toys

The Dollar Tree is a great place to shop for sensory bin items. They often have Christmas erasers that are a fun addition and other small toys such as plastic animals and cars. Penguins, deer, and polar bears would also be great for this winter-themed bin! 

Sensory bins help children engage their senses, particularly the sense of touch, which can be very calming to the brain. Often, when we feel anxious or upset, focusing on our senses moves us out of that reactive fight or flight mode. As the brain regulates, your child will become more peaceful and cooperative, and as the thinking brain comes back online, an opportunity to teach presents itself. 

Winter-Themed Sensory Books

Books are always a smart addition to a Calming Corner, so let’s add in a few winter-themed ones this holiday season. I always loved the sensory books because they added an extra element to our reading time. Here are 5 winter sensory books to consider adding to your space:

  1. Never Touch a Polar Bear by Make-Believe Ideas. This frosty touch-and-feel book is perfect for young children. They will love reading the funny rhyme that warns of the dangers of touching the winter animals.
  2. See, Touch, Feel: Christmas by Priddy Books. This book features tactile pages for little ones to touch and feel and festive artwork created from handprints and footprints, which parents can then create together with their own child.
  3. My Very Merry Ugly Christmas Sweater by Jeffrey Burton. Celebrate the perfect, ugly expression of holiday cheer in this Christmas touch-and-feel novelty book—with real, plush sweater material on the cover and touch-and-feel elements throughout!
  4. Christmas Cookies for Santa by Cottage Door Press. Smell, touch, feel, trace, and talk about everyone's favorite … cookies! Scratch and smell the delicious peppermints and yummy cookies, feel the sticky frosting, roll out the dough, and play with more sensory features in this sturdy board book for your curious baby and toddler.
  5. Make your own touch and feel book with your child! Here are the instructions from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls. 

Two-Ingredient Fake Snow (That’s Cold!)

Does your child like playing in the snow? Bring a little bit of that joy into your Calming Corner with this two-ingredient snow recipe. This snow feels cold to the touch even without putting it in the freezer. How “cool” is that? All you need is baking soda and shaving cream! Plus a container to mix and store it in. Just keep adding the ingredients until you get the snow-like consistency and enjoy this therapeutic mixture!

I hope you and your little one enjoy these winter-themed additions to your Calming Corner. Tag us on Instagram (@generationmindful) and Facebook (@genmindful) to show us yours!

•  •  •

Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Get a FREE Time-In Starter Kit when you sign up to become a GENM member today!

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