Let Them Grow: Fresh Way to Engage Toddlers in Creative Free Play

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Sugar on Snow

31872072121_c5cb22e945_mGrowing up in New England means I was raised on snow. I never missed a chance to play in it, and more so, eat it. I have passed this down to my children, inherently, without knowing. Even the dregs of snow left on the street are tempting to my three year old. She sneaks handfuls from the flowerpots on Main St and shoves them into her own face. Her obvious passion makes me thankful that I had saved some fresh snow from last weeks storm as it opened a dialog about the dreaded “yellow snow” verses clean snow. It got me thinking about the best part of snow…sugar on snow and snow cream! This New England treat is a favorite of kids and adults both! With a little creative thinking it can be made into a fun sensory edible experiment as well.

Snow Cream

Snow cream is an amazing ice-cream like treat made from snow. It has a grainier texture but is delicious!  The Recipe:

  • Milk 1 part
  • Sugar ¼ cup
  • Vanilla 1 teaspoon
  • Snow 4 parts

Beat together milk, sugar and vanilla; add in snow until the texture of ice cream.

Sugar on Snow

This is a simple recipe calling for fresh snow and a drizzle of maple syrup. Let your child pour and mix and eat up!

  • Fresh Snow
  • Maple Syrup

Snow Sugar

Now this is where we got creative. I gave my kids fresh snow and all the sprinkles I could muster. Let your child explore the snow, talk about the texture, temperature, the consistency and the taste!  Use this time to let them explore on their own, play and experiment.

This turned out to be a long, fun and tasty sensory experience. We built snow creatures, rainbow snow people and finally we made edible snowballs that were not only beautiful but also, tasty!

All you need:

  • Fresh Snow
  • Sprinkles
  • Spoons
  • Scoops

Lets try to enjoy the last dregs of winter, as another year has past and our children are another year older. Next year at this time my three year old will be closer to five and the days of snow play in a tray will be seen through a different lens and these sprinkles could be less fascinating, but hopefully none of us will ever loose our love of winter!


Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programming for children. She revels in hands-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a daycare in Northampton, MA.



One Comment on “Let Them Grow: Fresh Way to Engage Toddlers in Creative Free Play

  1. Reminds me of some activities (science related) that I used to do with my 7th graders in the 1980s. Are bigger snowballs colder than small ones? Does putting a snowball wrapped up in waxed paper or aluminum foil melt faster? How much water is in snow? (Fill cans of the same size with snow and then measure the water. Do this with different “types” of snow (some is lighter in weight, some is really good for making snowballs, etc. – so which ones have more water?) I always would write down their “guesses” first (what’s a hypothesis?) and then have them explain why they made that particular guess.

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