Winter sensory play for toddlers

Winter Sensory Play

Sensory play for toddlers is both fun and important for their development. Today I’m sharing a simple winter sensory play for toddlers. I love setting up seasonal invitations to play for my children. Find more Winter activities for kids here.

This one is mess-free too which is a bonus sometimes. As much as I don’t mind messy play, sometimes mess-free play is needed. I set this one up when my toddler had been ill and neither of us had had much sleep. Find more seasonal activities for kids here.

mess-free winter sensory play for toddlers

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Winter sensory play

Below you’ll find details of how to set up a winter tuff tray. Another mess-free Winter sensory activity is Winter in a Bag Sensory Play Activity.

You will need:

Tuff spot * or tuff tray

emergency foil blanket *

Foam snowflakes *  

A selection of blue and winter toys and board books.

How to set up a simple Winter tuff tray in less than 5 minutes

Whilst a tuff tray or tuff spot is not essential is does contain the space. You could simply spread out the emergency blanket and set up the other items on top.

Emergency foil blankets make great sensory toys for toddlers. They love the look and sound of them in my experience. They reflect the light and make a noise when they touch or crinkle them.

Add the large foam snowflakes and then it is time to search out all the winter-themed items you can find. Look in the toy box first. Do you have any blue bricks, stacking cups or rings? What about any toy penguins, polar bears or other arctic animals? Perhaps you have a toy snowman you could add. A musical sensory element like some bells would also be a good addition.

I also added a board book about animals found in wintery lands. I bet you have some winter-themed books for toddlers, if not click through to find out the ones we love. 

Winter tuff spot
My 18 month old exploring her winter tuff tray

Exploring the winter tuff spot

My toddler loved this activity. Her face lit up when she saw it. She was immediately drawn to the blanket and she really enjoyed crinkling it between her fingers to hear the sound it made. She also hid her head under it to play peek-a-boo with me. She explored all the toy animals as well as the snowflakes.

The book was a nice addition to the tuff spot as she currently loves books and it was nice to have one relevant to the activity. We didn’t have one of each of the animals in the book but it was nice to show her a 3D one of the ones we did have whilst we read the book.

Find my favourite winter books for toddlers by clicking through. These books would all work fantastically in this tray.

Winter tuff tray
We loved the addition of the winter-themed board book

Expanding the activity for older children

You might notice that the snowflakes have sight words written on them. This is for my 4-year-old, a great way to encourage reading in primary school children. For preschool and toddlers, you could write numbers or letters on them.

My 4-year-old also enjoyed the winter-themed tuff tray. She made caves in the sensory blanket for the animals and made-up play scenes developing her storytelling skills. She wasn’t interested in the sight words on this occasion but she really enjoyed the imaginative play.  

Winter Sensory Play

More winter sensory activities for toddlers

If you want to set up a snowy small world you could also add different things like blue or white water beads * or the glass beads *, if you have older children who are past the putting everything in their mouth stage. Or white play dough or even make some cloud dough.

More things to do with toddlers in winter

Winter is a great season to explore with toddlers, both indoors and outdoors. From the books that you read together to the activities and games that you play, winter is a great theme for toddlers. Here are a few ideas to get you started with your winter themes for toddlers.

Find more Indoor winter activities for toddlers here.

For more winter sensory activities for toddlers click here.

Get my free winter scavenger hunt printable here. A great way to get toddlers outside and engage with nature.

Find lots of ideas for outdoor activities for toddlers in this post. Most of them are suitable for winter.

Develop your toddler’s listening skills with my free sound hunt printable.

Another great thing to put in a winter tuff tray is snow. You could try letting your toddler paint the snow. Find out how here – Painting snow.


Would you like more ideas for enjoying winter with toddlers?

If you loved this post then you’ll love my free 5 day email series where I will guide you through simple ideas for enjoying winter with young children. You’ll receive 5 daily emails, each with ideas for things to do with your child in winter. There are ideas for outdoor play, indoor play and our favourite picture books to read aloud in winter.


Pin for later:

Winter tuff tray pin

35 thoughts on “Winter sensory play for toddlers

  1. Jenni says:

    This looks like great fun! I am always so amazed by how versatile the tuff spots are, I really need to get one!

  2. Laura | Little Ladies Big World says:

    This looks fab, we have always done things like this and it is amazing how engrossed they become by the simplest of things isn’t it? #SharingTheBlogLove

  3. Helen aka Welsh Mum Writing says:

    Love these ideas. Especially the mess free angle! We don’t have much space so a lot of mess goes a long way #Sharingthebloglove

  4. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons says:

    This is a lovely idea! I’ve recently bought a Tuffspot and I’m loving creating little worlds in it – I have a lot of things now I can use for winter. I think my son would love the snowflakes, and we have a whole set of penguins and polar bears I used for one recently. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  5. Lucy At Home says:

    Aaaw this looks like so much fun! I keep saying I’m going to get myself a tuff spot because they do look fab, and it’s a good way to keep everything contained during play. Thanks for the ideas #sharingthebloglove

  6. Malin (Sensational Learning with Penguin) says:

    Very nice ideas! I like the foil blanket, would never have thought of that. #bloggerpinparty

  7. Sara @ Magical Mama Blog says:

    I have not heard of the tuff spot before, but I’ll be getting one now! That looks perfect! This is such a fun, sweet little activity. I know my 14 month old would adore it! Thanks for sharing! #BloggerPinParty

  8. Sophie says:

    Oooh lovely crinkly silver blanket! Love sensory play! You’ll get loads of use of your Tuff spot in the warmer months I expect when you can get outside. #bloggerpinparty

  9. carla@ouramanahsourfutures says:

    We’ve only just got into the whole sensory playing. I’m always looking for new ideas. This ones great.

  10. Sarah says:

    This looks fab, and really easy to set up – I’m pretty rubbish at doing things like this at home though, I should probably make more of an effort! #ShareTheBlogLove

  11. Mrs Mummy Harris says:

    Little man loves sensory play – but right now he is all about feeding me from his pot and pan in his peppa pig kitchen hahaha! #sharingthebloglove

  12. Helena says:

    This looks like a lovely sensory experience. Sadly when I tried to make a little one (we don’t have a tuff tray) my eldest was less impressed. #sharingthebloglove

  13. Rachel says:

    Ah such a lovely idea! Sometimes I wish my two were little so I could create little scenes like this.

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