These Winter Centers took place in a first-grade classroom where the children sit at round tables. The kids took their usual seats, did the activity at that table first, and then moved to other tables as spots opened up. This set-up has been requested now by two wonderful, experienced teachers and it works really well.
There are a lot of marshmallow snowmen ideas online. We had the best luck with 2 marshmallows threaded onto a toothpick. Broken stick pretzels for arms, mini M&M’s for eyes and an orange tic-tac for the nose. White squeezable frosting for glue. Hershey’s kiss for the hat.
Making these cuties was a party activity, something for the kids to take home. The snowmen didn’t stand up well, so we stuck them in little boats – snack-size party cups from Party City worked, as did plastic Fiber One Yogurt cups wrapped in tinfoil. A clear candy bag (ziploc works, too – just cut off the zipper) attached with metallic tape kept them secure.
During the party, children ate Krispy Kreme Snowmen, fruit and cheese, all brought in by parent volunteers.
At the teacher’s suggestion, we provided fake snow for the kids to make. To start, we poured a bit of snow powder into their cupped hands and added water. It feels neat and they see the snow expand. Some added blue food coloring, some just played and everyone wanted to take some home in a ziploc bag. Create Your Own! FX Snow from Oriental Trading is a good value – we went through less than 2 packs for 23 students, and we could’ve made do with one pack.
Cotton Ball Games
The kids played a couple of the games found here, plus one more. Supplies included cotton balls, paper-covered straws, cottage cheese containers covered in tinfoil, styrofoam cups and cable ties.
First, each child sat in front of two containers, one full of cotton balls. By sucking through a straw, they transferred the cotton balls from one container to the other, until the second one was full. Then, with an empty container balanced on their heads, they used a plastic spoon to transfer the cotton from the container on the table to the one on their head.
Finally, they played a kind of cotton ball soccer with their straws. I made a ring of styrofoam cups attached with cable ties and placed it in the center of the round table, so each child at the table had an empty cup to blow their cotton balls into. In the center of the ring was a bowl full of snowflake stampers for their goody bags. Cheap and a lot fun.
I recruited another mom, a graphic artist, to help me paint faces. I’d never done it before, so I found simple images of snowmen, penguins and snowflakes and practiced on my daughter (and my arm) at home. I printed out the 3 images that turned out best and the kids chose from those. I invested in a Snazaroo Face Paint Pallet, along with brushes and glitter, and I’m so glad I did. The tiny paintings turned out great, and the kids were lined up to have it done.
Snowman Sand Art
The kids loved this, but I should’ve checked the size of these snowmen sand bottles first – they take a lot of sand! I bought the Sand Assortment from Oriental Trading (a good value if you’ll use all of the colors), along with extra bottles of blue and white sand from Hobby Lobby. Plastic spoons and funnels were key. All in all, an expensive craft for 23 students.
Snowmand-themed loot bags from Dollar Tree held the sand art, marshmallow snowman, snowflaker stamper and baggie of fake snow.