Snow painting is a fun and creative activity that kids can enjoy during the winter months. It is an outdoor activity that combines the elements of snow and color to create unique and beautiful artwork. By using various materials like food coloring, a spray bottle, or paint brushes, children can express their imagination and unleash their artistic abilities as they paint snow.

Using snow paint also provides numerous benefits for kids, including promoting their creativity, developing their fine motor skills, and encouraging them to spend time outside. Whether you’re looking for a new winter activity for your kids or just want to try something different, give this simple activity a try!

And, if you’re new to outdoor learning, check out this post: How to get started with outdoor learning.

How to paint snow

This is an awesome idea for your next snow day and can be done right in your backyard! Kids have so much fun with this snow painting activity. The best part? They stay busy for ages, it requires few supplies, and they have a chance to play outside.

Painting with food coloring and water

I wanted the kiddos to have some lightly structured play, so we created the paints together by mixing a few drops of concentrated food coloring into bottles of water, grabbed some paintbrushes, and that was it! You can also use washable tempera paints diluted with water, but I find food coloring way quicker and easier. Just be careful not to stain snow gear if you use food coloring!

We also brought a few bowls out so that the littles could dip their paint brushes into the colored water and use it as “paint,” but they ended up getting more of a kick out of spraying the snow with their snow paint! To do this, simply poke a few holes into a water bottle lid and show them how to squeeze the bottle. Or, if you have spray bottles handy, use those!

Materials for snow painting: Bottles with water and food coloring, and two paint brushes.

Materials to make snow paint

  • Snow painting materials like brushes, sponges, bottles, or spray bottles
  • Make snow paint with either water and a few drops of food coloring or diluted tempera paint. Simply fill the bottle with cold water and put a few drops of food coloring in.

Try encouraging some color theory learning while doing this fun activity, too! Bring different colors out and see how they mix.

Creating a nature frame

We built a snowman to paint and used the snowbank, but you could just as easily create a little “canvas” or nature frame by creating a border with four sticks. This way the little ones have an area to paint in and their masterpiece will look just like a piece of art!

For older kids, you could also grab a stencil and do this activity the way the Nature Museum does. Watch the video tutorial below to learn how!

The benefits of outdoor play

Outdoor play and learning have many benefits for children. Here is why experts in childhood development think outdoor play is important for kids:

Studies have found that when children play outdoors, they are more physically active than when they play indoors. Beyond the well-known health benefits of physical activity, research has found that outdoor play and access to green space is associated with higher vitamin D levels, improved mental well-being, better attention behaviours, better self-regulation, and improved spatial memory. 

The enclyclopedia on early childhood development

This activity is just one example of the many ways your child can learn by playing outside. For more outdoor learning ideas, see some of our posts here.

A child doing snow painting with blue paint.

Fine motor development

Creating art and manipulating tools like paint brushes or squeezing spray bottles are great ways for your child’s hands to get essential fine motor practice in while engaging in play. This snow painting activity requires kids to exercise their hand muscles in a way that helps their development.

In fact, the Philly Art Center says that:

One of the most important skills that are developed through art is fine motor development. During art lessons, your child’s small muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists are exercised and strengthened, helping to make learning to write easier.

Philly Art Center

Promoting creativity and self-expression with snow painting

Snow painting promotes creativity in kids in a number of ways. First and foremost, it gives them the freedom to experiment and try new things. Children can mix colors, create designs, and let their imaginations run wild when they paint in the snow.

Unlike regular painting, snow painting is a unique and unusual canvas that can inspire kids to think outside the box and try new techniques. Check out the snowman they built and painted below, for example! A less structured approach to play encourages children to be more creative and to approach their artwork with an open mind.

A colorful snowman with pinecone ears.
Painted snowmen are so cute! Just be sure to build it first as putting more snow on top will mean painted mitts, too.

And, even something as simple as painting outdoors can be a therapeutic and cathartic experience for kids, allowing them to release their emotions and express themselves in a unique and creative way. Whether they’re making a statement, telling a story, or simply letting their imagination take over, snow painting can be a powerful tool for promoting creativity in kids.

For more nature crafts, head over to our post here: 10 Adorable preschool nature crafts.

Safety considerations

As with all outdoor activities, it’s important to take precautions so kids can engage in safe play. Make sure they have dressed appropriately for the cold weather with boots, jackets, mitts, and toques.

If you’re worried about stains on clothes then try using diluted washable tempera paints instead of food coloring. And, be sure to get the children to build their structures or picture frames before painting so their mitts and winter coats don’t get soaked in colored snow.

Kids can also use something to protect their clothes like a smock or apron.

Frequently asked questions

How do you make snow art?

Snow paint only requires two ingredients – food coloring and water! Or tempera paint and water. This fun craft is left up to the child’s imagination as they paint the snow with brushes, bottles, and spray bottles.

Can you preserve snow paintings?

The beauty of snow paint is that it’s temporary. Their snowy designs will only last until the snow is melted or until the next snowfall. Try to pick somewhere in the yard that it won’t get ruined right away and offer to take pictures to preserve their art!

Can you do snow painting inside?

Winter activities are super fun, but sometimes it’s not easy to go outside! You could pack some snow into a container, bring the snow inside the house or school, and paint it that way. Just remember it will melt quicker!


Here are some more posts about outdoor learning and play:


Outdoor play, by the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development

Development of fine motor skills through art, Philly Art Center

More ways to learn outside

Head over to our Outdoors category to see some of our favorite outdoor learning ideas and activities for kids!