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Activity: Make a Snowy Sensory Bin

Hands playing with animal figures in a bin of fake snow

Today’s activity is inspired by The Truth About Comets by Dorothea Tanning. Learn more about this artwork here, then try your hand at creating a snowy sensory bin!

Dorothea Tanning, The Truth About Comets
Dorothea Tanning, The Truth About Comets, 1945, oil on canvas, 24 × 24 in. (61 × 61 cm) Framed: 29 5/8 in. × 29 5/8 in. × 4 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2014.24

Dorothea Tanning, The Truth About Comets, 1945, 24 × 24 in. (61 × 61 cm), oil on canvas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Look Closer:

Take a moment to look at this painting. What do you see? Who’s in the painting? What are they doing there?

The artist, Dorothea Tanning, creates paintings about her dreams. In this snowy landscape, we see two young women standing near a tree. Look closely at them. What do you notice? 

These mermaids are out of the sea and looking at the comets above. Why do you think the mermaids are interested in the comets? Have you seen a comet before?

Imagine if you could walk into this painting. How do you think it would feel to stand in the snow? What would you say to the mermaids? Where do you think the stairs lead to?

Activity: Create A Snowy Sensory Bin

Materials Needed:

  • Bin (Ex: storage tub, tray, large bowl, etc.)
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Measuring cup or spoons
  • Water
  • Play accessories (Ex: cookie cutters, plastic toys, pinecones, etc.)
  • Reclosable bag or airtight container
Materials needed to create A Snowy Sensory Bin
Ingredients to make fake snow


Step 1: Find an area on the floor where it is safe to make a mess. Place your bin on the ground with a cover underneath.

Step 2: Start by making sensory snow. Pour equal amounts of cornstarch and baking soda (1:1 ratio) into the bin. 

Step 3: Mix the baking soda and cornstarch with your fingers. Loosen any clumps in the mixture.

Step 4: Next, add just enough water that when you squeeze some of the mixture in your hand, it forms a ball. Slowly add in the water until your fake snow looks just like real snow.

Sensory Snow Tip: It is important to add the water in slowly. If you end up with a mixture that’s too runny, simply add a bit more of the baking soda and cornstarch mixture.

Mixture being used to form a ball in a hand
Play accessories in a bin with spoons as digging tools to move fake snow

Step 5: Place your play accessories in the sensory snow. Use measuring cups or spoons as digging tools. Make sure any play accessories you use are easy to clean with water afterward.

Step 6: Sensory bins make for fun and easy exploration which can be done in groups or alone. When the sensory exploration has ended, store the sensory snow in a reclosable bag or airtight container. 

Sensory snow will last for 7-10 days in storage.  Over time it will absorb moisture from the air and the consistency will change, but it is super easy to whip up a new batch of sensory snow!

Hands playing with animal figures in a bin of fake snow

Have fun exploring!

Written by Kim Ly, art instructor, Crystal Bridges.


Special thanks to our sponsors:

Youth and Family programming is supported in part by AMP Sign & Banner, Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Juan, Marcy and Joaquin Camacho, The Coca-Cola Company, iHeart Media, JTH Productions, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Pinnacle Car Services, Procter & Gamble, Gordon and Carole Segal, The Simmons Family Fund, and ViacomCBS Consumer Products.

Education and Learning is supported in part by Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, The Northern Trust Company, Pamela and Wayne Garrison, Doug and Shelley McMillon, Jack and Melba Shewmaker Family, Neff and Scarlett Basore, Galen and Debi Havner, Lance and Sharon Beshore, Cardinal Four Foundation, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Harry Cornell, Cox Communications, Dorothy Hurt, J.M. Smucker Company, Kimberly-Clark, Nice-Pak Products, Inc., The Russell Berrie Foundation, Stephen and Claudia Strange, Felix and Margaret Wright.