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Craft Ideas For Toddlers
If you have a toddler who loves to express themselves through art, you have likely been frustrated in your search for suitable crafts. Beyond finger painting, many of the craft ideas you see are geared towards older children – or their parents, who end up having to do all the work.
You know that your toddler can wind pipe cleaners, glue on small googly eyes, bend and fold paper into origami-like configurations, staple, hot glue, cut precisely, or any of the other steps involved in these more complex craft projects.
There are projects, though, that can work as cute kids gifts and can appeal to toddlers and give them the level of challenge and difficulty that is right for them. Here are some ideas to get you started.
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The Key to Keeping Toddlers Attention
The key to successful crafts with toddlers is to keep it short and sweet. If you have a project in mind that requires some prep work, do it before you get your child ready for craft time. She will likely burn off all of her enthusiasm and stamina in the prep work and peter out during the actual activity.
What You'll Need (Stock Up!)
DIY Toy Scoop
For this Super Scoop project, from Disney’s FamilyFun page, for instance, you can do some of the work ahead of time so all goes smoothly. Luckily, there’s not a lot of prep work anyway!
- Craft knife or scissors
- Gallon jug
- Colored tissue paper
- 2 ½ inch wide can
- Glue stick
- Paint brush
- Modge Podge (a cheaper alternative is to mix Elmer’s white glue with some water until it has a brush-able consistency)
Ahead of time, cut the top of the jug leaving the handle intact. You will want a wide opening here because this scoop will be used to scoop up toys. Use the can to trace circles onto the tissue paper, and then cut them out. To save time, stack several pieces together and cut at the same time.
With your child, glue the circles onto the jug with the glue stick. Make sure to cut out more than enough circles in case some get torn in the process. After, have your child lightly brush the Modge Podge or glue/water mixture over the circles to seal them. And that’s it. Short, simple, and useful later during clean up time!
DIY Rain Sticks
This is another kid favorite, and it is incredibly easy.
You will need:
- Mailing tube ($1.50 at Staples) or paper towel tube (free from your recycling bin)
- Paint, crayons, or markers
- Popcorn seeds and rice
- Brown paper or construction paper
- Tin foil
Again, begin by doing some prep work. Put a cap on one end of the rain stick. You can do this by putting a piece of the brown paper over the end and then using a rubber band to keep it in place, or you could trace around your tube’s opening on the paper and then draw a bigger circle around that circle. Between these, draw a lot of spokes, so it looks like a wheel or a child’s sun drawing.
Cut out the bigger circle and then cut the spokes. Put glue on the spokes and then glue the cap onto your tube.
Cut a piece of tin foil that measures six inches wide and about 1.5 times the length of your tube. If your tube is 12 inches, for instance, cut the strip so it is 18 inches. Twist this into a spring shape and put it into the tube.
See video below for directions on this step:
The Final Steps
Next, have your child make a mixture of rice, dry beans, unpopped popcorn, or dry pasta into a measuring cup. Help her pour it into the tube – it should be about 1/10 full so it makes the rain sound.
Use different combinations of beans and seeds to get the sound you like or to just hear the differences. When you have the combination you want, make another spoke cap and glue it on.
Your child can decorate the rain stick with paints, markers, crayons, stickers, glitter, or anything else she wants! After they're done marveling and playing, they can also be used for desk gifts for mom or dad.
DIY Play Dough
This is a fun craft (from FamilyFun) that gives you the fun of painting and the pleasure of play dough. It will help bring out the Jackson Pollack in your child.
- 2/3 cup each of flour, salt, water
- Washable tempera paints
- Squeeze bottles (available at craft stores or discount stores)
To make, whisk together the flour, salt, and water. The dough will be pourable – but just barely. Get out to bowls, and divide the dough between them. Add a little tempera paint, and then pour the dough into the squeeze bottles. Make as many colors as you like (just double or triple the recipe and get more squeeze bottles).
Lay out thick construction paper and them your child go to work. The texture and dimension of the paint dough offers something different. Plus, what kid can resist squeeze bottles? Leave the artwork to dry. When the salt dries, it will crystalize and create interesting and unique patterns.
There are a lot of great activities for toddlers. Just remember to keep it interesting and to keep craft sessions on the shorter side.