Winter Train Table Sensory Play

Just because you haven’t gotten any snow doesn’t mean your kids can’t play with it! We are lucky enough to have a train table that my dad made ( he’s been hacking Ikea since before it was hip) and this week we took some time to play with pretend snow. This is a wonderful multi- age sensory activity and worked great for my 5-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter, they each explored and played learning different things but having the same amount of fun.


  1. Gather your materials. We used our train table, extra trains and some cotton balls. If you don’t have a train table grab a bath mat, large shallow bin or just a coffee table and set up some trains or trucks then add in the “snow”.
  2. Start by being a little goofy and pretending to be clouds that are snowing . Give the kids the cotton balls and let them decide where the snow goes. I talked to my son about the weather, asked him to look outside and tell me if he thought it would snow today in our yard. For my daughter, we focused on the color white and the word “soft” feeling the soft cotton balls in our hands and on our faces.
  3. Play.  This is where some kids and many parents ( and even teachers) clam up. Now, what? Here are some things we did that were fun.
  4. My son pretended to be delivering snow from one end of the train table to the other and we counted the snow as we loaded up the train, and then the pile when we dropped it off. 
  5. My daughter had a ball putting the snow into the little train house, through the windows. Hello, fine motor and hand eye coordination practice!
  6. We made a blizzard.
  7. We pretended to be the wind and blowed the snow.
  8. And more play.  What I loved so much about this was that it made the train table feel new again and we played with it and the snow on and off for days.

Books About Trains

All our book lists include affiliate links. 

Freight Train by Donald Crewes. Donald Crews’ Freight Train is a classic book.  It is rather simplistic in nature, but it is good for the younger train fans as it talks about the different kinds of freight cars and teaches about colors. My son loved this book at 2 and will still grab it at the library and read it when we are there three years later.

Tracks by David Galef and Tedd Arnold is a hilarious book about a man named Arnold who is in charge of directing the crew who lays down the train tracks.  Arnold’s glasses break, and his vision becomes a bit skewed.  What will the mayor think of this wacky track?  You’ve got to read it and find out!

Terrific Trains by Tony Mitton is another great book. My parents bought my son this whole set and at first I was sceptical of it just because it is a set and I guess I judged a book my it’s cover because I love all the books in the set. They are informative, fun, have great rhyming text and my son will sit for them and often requests them at bedtime too!

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  1. says

    I love how everyone is dressed in these pictures XD Jammies and… I’m going to hazard a guess the orange shirt is a hand-me-down from big brother? 😉 She sure is rocking it with the bow, lol. And the jammies really are adorable, too 🙂

    • admin says

      You are correct- I don’t think my son got out of jammies for 4 or 5 days during Christmas break. It’s all he wants to wear now that his batman shirt obsession is over. She has started grabbing her brother’s clothes and asking to wear them, she adores her brother.

  2. says

    That is Awesome! I’m going to have to buy a bag of cotton balls so my son can have fun making a snowy day for his trains. Of course, with the forewarning that he’s going to have to help pick it all up, too!

    Our favorite train books are: chugga chugga choo choo by kevin lewis, Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand, and The Little Train by Lois Lenski

  3. says

    Thanks for this idea. It doesn’t snow around us and my son has never seen snow but we have seen shows on TV and read books about snow so today during his quiet in his room time he looked at me boredly and wanted me to play with him. Course I have a pile of stuff to do and then this idea popped into my head and I grabbed the bag of cotton balls (which had a total of about 7 in it oh well) and he had such a great time blocking the tracks not just with snow but other odds and ends (rocks etc) and then clearing the tracks. So much so that he didn’t notice when his time was up so thank you!!!

  4. says

    Oh my goodness my son just was telling me his idea of making his train table have snow on it for winter… sadly I ignored him because I wanted to keep my cotton balls and did not have any to spare… (BAD HOMESCHOOL MOMMY!!!) I am so going to pick him up his own bag to let it snow on his table too!

  5. says

    I want to do this with my son. He used an entire big bottle of baby powder as “snow” with his trains last month. He’ll love the cotton balls.

    (p.s. I found your site a few months ago and have been reading it religiously. So many great ideas. I would love for you to submit your posts to the Make and Takes spotlight page–

  6. Emily says

    I saw this on your website a month or so ago, and I’ve been wanting to try it. Well, we live in Chicagoland and we had our first snow today. No better day to try this! My almost 3 year old is LOVING it. He hasn’t played with his train table this much in a little while.

    We’ve been doing a lot of your crafts lately. Your blog is just what I needed to give me ideas for his age! We’ve loved the “b” boat, paper plate ladybug and turtle, and the “B” bumble bee the best. Thank you SO much!!! 🙂

  7. Jennifer says

    Oh what a great idea! My son is in love with trains and his train table – he plays with it for hours. This will be wonderful for him. I’d also like to recommend the Little Engine that Could. it’s one of our favorites.


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