Arts & Crafts Activities
10 Winter Crafts Ideas for Early Years
As the colder, darker days set in, brighten up your nursery with some cheerful winter crafts. There’s plenty of inspiration to be taken from this season; here are some ideas for activities to help children recognise and celebrate the turning of the year.
Hats and Mittens Bunting
Make two templates – a hat shape and a mitten shape – and use these to draw and cut out lots of hats and mittens from pieces of different coloured card. Get the children to decorate them using pens, crayons, paint or glitter – the more colourful the better. Once dry, staple them to a length of ribbon (alternating between hats and mittens) and hang up inside the nursery.
Snowflake Wax-resist Paintings
For this winter crafts activity, you’ll need some pieces of white card (or watercolour paper), some white crayons, and some blue watercolour paint. Each child takes a sheet of card and uses a crayon to draw snowflake patterns on it. Then they brush blue watercolour paint all over the sheet; the waxy pattern made by the crayon will resist the paint and stay white, while the rest of the picture will be blue. This is an effective technique for creating a snowy scene.
Making gingerbread men is a lovely activity that can be as elaborate or simple as you want it to be. You can either buy or bake your own gingerbread; making it with the children gives them some basic cooking practice, as well as the fun of cutting out the shapes themselves. The icing can also be shop-bought or homemade, as long you have plenty of it, perhaps with sweets to decorate.
Cardboard Tube Penguins
For these you’ll need a long cardboard tube, black paint, glue, orange and black card, cotton wool and googly eyes. Cut the cardboard tube into lengths of around 12cm, and get the children to paint them black. While these are drying, cut some feet and wing shapes out of the black card, and beak shapes out of the orange card. When the black paint has dried, the children can glue these shapes onto their tubes, along with googly eyes and cotton wool (for the penguin’s tummy).
Lay out some A3 sheets of black paper or card, and help the children stick strips of masking tape onto them – pressing down firmly – to make tree shapes (you could tear the tape into narrower strips for the branches). Get the children to paint over the whole sheet to make a wintry scene, eg white at the bottom for snow and blue at the top for the sky. Once the paint has completely dried, peel the masking tape off to reveal the tree silhouettes.
Paper Doily Snowmen
For this activity, you’ll need some A3 paper or card (blue works well), two different sizes of white paper doilies, glue and decorations (e.g. pipe cleaners, buttons, glitter, stickers, coloured paper). The children simply glue one large doily (the body) and one small doily (the head) onto the blue card, and use decorations to add a hat, eyes, nose, mouth, scarf, arms, buttons etc.
Making bird feeders is a good seasonal activity to do with young children; it gives them an opportunity to learn about why birds find it harder to find food in the winter, and helps them engage with the natural world. There are lots of ideas online about how to make bird feeders; you could string cereal hoops onto string, for example, or try making shapes by pressing moistened bird feed into moulds.
This is a very simple but effective winter craft, for which you just need blue card (or thick paper) and extra runny white glue. The children dab a generous line of glue all along the top edge of the card, and then hold it up so that it dribbles down, making icicle shapes (you might need to help them so that the glue stops short of the bottom of the card).
To make these you’ll need paper plates, brown paint, glue, red tissue paper and orange card. Fold the paper plates in half, so that the children can paint the outer side brown. Once the plates are dry, glue scrunched up bits of red tissue paper onto one side to make the robin’s tummy, then add a beak (using the orange card), an eye (either using paint or a googly eye), and a tail (using feathers, pipe cleaners or strips of paper). When you stand the plate up and tip the beak down it should rock.
Winter Crafts Hedgehogs
Another winter crafts idea is clay hedgehogs. To make them you’ll need some air-drying clay and lots of small twigs (you could collect some with the children on a wintry walk). Give each child a ball of clay and ask them to make it into a hedgehog shape – a roundish body with a pinched nose at one end and eyes marked on. Then they can stick twigs into the body to make the spines. Leave overnight to dry.