Easy Winter Art and Craft Activities

Craft set of goods for product packaging.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS – Winter in the Midwest always reminds me of the Christmas vacation I spent as a young girl with my grandparents in southern Germany: the bright snow and crisp wind that gives way to muddy ground, and then back again to snow. We often went on what felt like long walks to the playgrounds or to see the sheep or deer that lived near my grandparents’ house, and it was deeply formative to spend time outdoors, gazing at the wintery landscape while bundled up.

Here in the Midwest, we’ve recently had a winter storm pass through and leave us with quite a bit of snow. While it’s certainly enjoyable to be outside, the limited daylight can make it difficult to be outdoors for long in the evening. Instead, I prefer to settle down with some cocoa and a good craft. I’ve been crocheting since the start of the pandemic, and I’ve recently gotten the hang of tatting after multiple attempts and tangled thread. Someday, I’ll be able to make some tatted lace trim!

Crafting, however, isn’t just limited to the fiber arts. Oftentimes, the best crafts are the ones made with materials just lying around your house, such as spare cardboard or old clothes. Crafting can be a wonderful way to make the most of the quiet season, and there’s nothing better than art that brings the outdoors indoors. Here are some inexpensive, child-friendly craft ideas to fill your winter with imaginative fun.

Easy Winter Art and Craft Activities

  • Keep costumes in a box for dress-up playtime.
  • Collect stones from outside and paint them to use as storytelling props.
  • Create your own stationary from paper scraps.
  • Make the most of leftover cardboard by building a toy house.
  • Nature crafting can help you bring the outdoors inside in beautiful works of art.

Keeping a costume box is an easy way to designate a place in your home for children’s costumes. Consider decorating the box with colored paper cutouts, ribbons, trim, or scrap fabric. Then, take an afternoon or two to gather no longer worn or retired clothes and designate them for dress-up time. You’ll find that the sky is the limit when it comes to imagination. You might also be able to make a learning experience out of the character your child chooses to dress up as: Captain Kirk from Star Trek, for instance, might be an excellent springboard for teaching your children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren about the different planets in the solar system and the wonders of space.

Storytelling can also be expressed through one of the most common elements in nature: stones. One reader collects stones from her garden and then has the children in her care draw images onto them with acrylic paint. After a coat of clear nail varnish has been applied over the stones, they can then be used to tell stories. Be mindful of where you collect the stones, though. Avoid taking stones from waterways or parks.


Have some junk paper, cardboard, envelopes, or notebook paper lying around? Consider making new paper out of it. With a DIY mold and deckle (instructions included in “Making Paper at Home”), you’ll be on your way to crafting beautiful, one-of-a-kind paper and stationary. Connect with an ancient practice that’s as easy as turning the waste paper into pulp and then forming the pulp into new paper. Dry your new paper on an indoor clothesline.

If you have some leftover mat paper or cardboard, then building a miniature cardboard house might be right for you. Cut four cardboard pieces to the same height: These will be the front, back, and two sides. The front piece is optional. Make sure the front (if using) and back are the same size, as well as the two sides. Mark the inside and outside walls, and then decorate them accordingly with watercolors, markers, crayons, wallpaper samples, or magazine cutouts. The sky is the limit! Don’t be afraid to mix mediums: Add magazine cutouts to watercolor walls, for example. When youíve finished, it’s assembly time. Glue each side at a time to the back piece, and if you’re adding a front, then glue that piece. For the roof, you can make a flat or peaked one. Voila!

If you live in a place that doesn’t see much snow, consider nature crafting. Take a paper or cloth bag with you on a nature walk and collect different plant parts, including leaves, twigs, small rocks, acorns, cones, or seed pods. Don’t take federally or state-protected plants. When you’re back home, it’s time to create some art. Dry any damp items beforehand. From here, you can make a seed picture or a nature collage, depending on what you’ve gathered. When you’ve finished creating your arrangement, cut out your backing material from paper and hot-glue your creation to it, piece by piece.