For families living in a warm climate, winter outdoor activities don’t look so different from summer, fall, or spring activities. Skiing, sledding, and building snowmen may just be the stuff of picture books and holiday movies for kids outside of the Northeast and Midwest. Ideally, families would get to play in the snow, without the brutal winds, ice and winter storms. Fake snow presents a chance to break away from winter boredom, no actual weather required!
Fake Snow is fun, whether there’s never been snowfall where you live or there’s three feet of permanent hardpack as early as October. It’s great for younger kids’ sensory play. Plus, it’s easy to make and easy to clean up, so we put together this guide on how to make fake snow!
Getting Set Up
First gather equipment and set up a play area. Even though it’s not as messy as bringing real snow into the house, spilled fake snow still requires some clean up. Lay down wax paper or newsprint to keep your play space tidy. A shower curtain liner works well as a catch-all for messy hands-on activities. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- A tray, tub or wide flat container to hold the snow
- 1½ cups Baking soda
- ¼ cups Shampoo
- (optional) Food coloring
- (optional) White or silver glitter
- (optional) Toys to play in the snow
- (optional) Buttons, pipe cleaners, beads and pom poms for building snowmen.
This activity is also great for groups of kids, as every kid can make their own tray of snow. Just increase the suggested recommendation on the recipe. The measurements above are great for two kids sharing a tray.
Making Fake Snow
- Prepare the play area with wax paper or plastic for easy clean up.
- Set down the tray and pour in the baking soda.
- Pour in the pre-measured shampoo. If you’re interested in making colored snow using food coloring, first mix the food coloring with shampoo.
- Kids can help to mix the baking soda and shampoo together in their tray. Using hands, keep stirring and kneading the snow together until it becomes more crumbly and less sticky.
- Add in glitter if you want, or drop in a few extra “bursts” of color with food coloring.
Once the snow is crumbling, it’s ready for all kinds of snow adventures. Kids can experiment with adding more food coloring to pre-mixed snow and sprinkling in more glitter. If you’re in a really warm climate, the mixture can be refrigerated for a while to give the sensation of playing with cold snow.
Use blue or purple food coloring to mimic the colors of frigid Arctic ice. For more color fun, try making batches of red and white snow to create candy cane inspired snow.
Clump the snow together into balls for building snowmen. Start with two stacked snowballs to create a basic snowman shape and then try building a taller snowman out of three snowballs.
- Add buttons to the front of the snowmen.
- Place pipe cleaners in both sides of the snowman for arms.
- Beads or peppercorns make great eyes or mouths for the top snowball.
- Add pompoms to the top snowball of the snowman for a tophat or earmuffs.
Younger kids love tactile play, because it’s messy, hands-on, and always fun!
- Hide toys in the snow for kids to uncover in a treasure hunt.
- Use seasonal cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the snow, or use cookie cutters as a mold and fill them with fake snow.
- Scoop a cup into a plastic bag for transportable sensory play. It’s mess free and kids will love squishing & playing with the glittery snow in the bag.
Anytime baking soda comes out of the pantry, most kids want to see it fizz. When it’s time to clean up the fake snow activity, parents can pour vinegar onto the snow to make it erupt into bubbles or snowdrifts. Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base, when combined, two chemical reactions take place, the latter of which is a decomposition producing water and carbon dioxide gas.
If your kids have seen the reaction before, ask them to make a guess about what will happen now that there’s shampoo present in the baking soda. Do they think the reaction will be more foamy? Less foamy?
Other Fake Snow Recipes
There are many variations of fake snow recipes, they all create a different kind of snow. For people living in colder climates terms like wet snow, dry snow, or heavy snow all mean different things (and cold weather kids know which ones make the best snow balls). Try out these alternative recipes for generating different kinds of snow!
- Shaving Cream & Baking Soda: Combine 1 ½ cups Baking Soda & add shaving cream to create white fluffy snow. Continue adding in shaving cream until you find a consistency that you like!
- Conditioner: Substitute conditioner for the shampoo in the original recipe for a smoother type of consistency.
- Corn Starch & Lotion: not as powdery as the other recipes, but great for making snowmen.
- Snow Clay: This snow with more substance for sculpting. Kids can form it into blocks for constructing igloos and snow structures. Mix all the ingredients together & knead until smooth.
- 1 Part Cornstarch
- 2 Parts Baking Soda
- 1.5 Parts Water
- Food coloring and/or glitter
This winter break, you might find yourself at home with kids brimming with pent-up energy on the verge of cabin fever. Break into the pantry and bathroom to grab a few basic ingredients to make your very own snow – a guaranteed boredom buster! Older kids might enjoy making fake snow as well, as a variation on traditional “slime” recipes. Try adding in a few drops of essential oil to the recipe to make the snow smell like the season.
All of the fake snow recipes will keep for a few days as long as they aren’t left exposed to the air for too long, so you can enjoy one batch for a whole weekend!