I’d wanted to create a sensory box for Charlie ever since I saw the sensory box of beans Mrs. Hide and Seek made for her daughter. So on a recent cold winter day when we were stuck indoors, I made an impromptu sensory box out of rice and filled it with animal figurines. Charlie had the time of his life burying the animals, digging for the animals, and scooping the rice with a cup and transferring it into another container. He played with this box for at least a couple of hours!

Since that day, I’ve become obsessed with learning more about sensory play, learning through play, homeschooling, the Montessori method, the Waldorf method and much more. We’re definitely going to talk more about that on Hellobee, but for now, I want to share some of the cool learning-through-play indoor activities I’ve discovered along my blog and Pinterest travels. All of these activities are perfect for winter days (or any day!) and are super easy to do!


Freeze little plastic toys, let them melt in bath water.
– Make glowing bath paint, let your LO paint in the tub in the dark!
Freeze water + food coloring in an ice cube tray. Add colored cubes to bath water and let your child chase them before they melt!
Throw glow sticks in the bathtub and take a bath in the dark.
– Make bubble bath paint, let your kids paint in the tub.

Add food coloring to milk and swirl around to create milk art.
Add food coloring to condensed milk to create a nice, edible paint.
– Paint with homemade watercolors on a DIY easel made of cardboard.
Fill bottles with water and food coloring, and paint outside in the snow.
– Make bingo daubers using plastic water bottles, water, and food coloring and dab away.
– Make puffy paint.
– Make homemade fingerpaint; Soak sponges in paint for easy access.
– Put paint inside a ziploc bag, tape the sides down onto the table, let kids “finger paint”.
– Make playdoh with food coloringJello or Kool Aid.
– Make cloud dough – the soft stuff at hands-on children’s museums.

– Tape contact paper to a wall, and give your LO light items like pom poms, balloons, buttons, etc. to throw and stick.
– Make a fort.
– Make race tracks with masking tape.
– Fill a wipes bin with fabric scraps tied together and let your LO pull it out.
– Add food coloring to vinegar and squeeze onto baking soda with an eye dropper for a homemade volcano!
– Act out or recreate a story from a book like We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
– Create an obstacle course using yarn.
– Make the world’s best bubbles using dish soap, corn syrup and water.

– Help put clothes in the washer and dryer.
– Help wash dishes.
– Help wipe surfaces with paper towels. (Charlie loves all of these activities.)

Learning through Play
– Make your own matching game with images cut in half.
– Make a color matching game.
– Make a color sorting tray to teach color.
Tape shapes to the floor with masking tape to improve motor skills and learn shapes.

Sensory Play/Fine Motor Skills
– Turn your pack n play into a ball pit – just add balls.
– Create a sensory box with beans or (rainbow) rice. Fill with just about anything you want!
– Glue various items to pieces of cardboard to create texture boards.
– Put pipe cleaners into anything with holes (colander, spice jar, etc.) to work on fine motor skills.
– Stick a raw spaghetti noodle into a ball of playdoh. Let your child stack Cheerios on the noodle to work on fine motor skills.
Transfer water with a baster into a muffin tin’s individual compartments.
– Create discovery baskets with similar items – balls, brushes, cooking utensils, etc.
Fill balloons with play doh for squeezing, sensory fun.
– Create tinker toys with marshmallows and toothpicks (Charlie loves this).
Glue velcro onto crafts sticks for hours of sticking and unsticking fun.
– Stack canned food or boxes on top of each other (pet food is great for this).
– Make discovery bottles by filling bottles with various liquids and objects (a magnet plus pipe cleaners are the coolest).

We’ll continue to add to this list as we discover more fun learning through play activities that you can easily recreate yourself. Please feel free to share any ideas and links that you might have in the comments!