Posted on June 30 2020
Invitation to Play Inspiration
Willow has been asking about visiting snow ever since she was gifted a gorgeous book ‘Canada 123’ from a Canadian couple that visited our neighbours over Christmas. One page focuses on the four seasons, and we had some wonderful discussions about what season we were in, and how it was the opposite of Steve and Lori (our new friends) in Canada. Willow was so taken by the beautiful snowy illustration for winter, that as soon as we hit autumn, she eagerly awaited winter to come! On the 1stof June, she woke up said “it’s winter now Mummy, can we go and see the snow?!” – oh dear. In her excitement for winter to arrive, she forgot that little bit of information that we’d shared about the fact that we unfortunately don’t get snow here in town. So, I hatched a plan to create some winter magic for her!
During autumn, we found the biggest pinecones we’d ever seen at a farm up the road, and with permission, were allowed to take home as many as we pleased. We used nature paints to deck out each scale with autumn colours, to create a little forest on the ground of our own ‘forest’ (a bunch of pine trees in the hayshed paddock). Knowing how much Willow adored this activity, I thought it would be sweet to follow it up with a winter-themed take on the project, and searched for fake snow recipes. There are a number of recipes out there, with most using different combinations of conditioner, corn starch, shaving cream and baking soda. I narrowed the selection down to two, and my little scientist and I eagerly set up the experiment, with Willow to decide on which one would be the snow to fall on our ‘winter forest’.
Play-based learning is incredibly powerful, and allows children to practise what they are learning. This particular activity is wonderful in so many ways – the conversations around seasons, and how our environment changes were meaningful, and have resonated with Willow over the last few months. In setting up and carrying out the experiment of the two fake snow varieties, Willow was able to make predictions, measure and mix, and come to a conclusion - all fantastic mathematics, literacy and science skills, that will further develop once she begins her formal education at school. It is also quite the sensory delight with the scents of the conditioner and shaving cream, as well as the feeling of the ‘snow’ between your fingers!
Now, to the nitty gritty! I will share the two recipes we used, and in doing so, share our conclusions about the worthiness of each. You can use our final choice for your craft, or choose to experiment like we did, and allow your children to experience the feel of being scientists and trial both! Either way, I feel confident that your child/ren will enjoy this activity! Using both recipes will allow them further opportunities for discussion with you, and to guide the play session with their own conclusions, but it is not necessary!
3 cups of baking soda
1 and ½ cup measuring cups
2 mixing bowls
Pinecones (or other nature treasures that can resemble little trees such as banksia pods, or even tree toys you already have at home!)
Small toy (optional)
Constructing the Play Session
As soon as Willow had mixed the corn starch and shaving cream, she knew which one she wanted to use for the forest! The baking soda and conditioner recipe, provided a much ‘fluffier’ result that was perfect in Willow’s eyes for sprinkling over the pinecones and ground. The corn starch and shaving cream created a more dense recipe, which didn’t suit our intended use – but was perfect for moulding a little snow man!
Our next step was to take our chosen recipe over to the ‘forest’, and sprinkle away! Firstly we lined up the pinecones into two rows to give the forest feel, and then Willow went to town sprinkling snow over the tops of them on onto the ground. I adore love activities that action fine motor skills – seeing little fingers work their magic is such a delight, and these skills are so important to develop. Willow added another element to the play session by bringing out one of her little Holdie Dolls. She took Rei for a little walk through the forest, and helped him do some treetop jumping! She happily played with the winter scene until we had to go to Grandma and Papa’s house for dinner!
As mentioned above, we took ours outdoors in line with how we constructed our autumn forest, but you could easily pop your finished mixture/s into a container and keep in indoors so you can use it over and over again during winter.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me @intheworldofwillow. If you do choose to create your own little winter forest, I would love to see the results! Please tag @intheworldofwillowand @rosiecheekskids or message one or both pages with a photo so we don’t miss your creations!