Rebecca Wolf

This blog is a chronicle of my daughters' growth - born July 2003 and May 2007. Be sure to check out the Thriving Babies homepage, for videos and instructions on how to use every type of baby carrier. For literacy and homeschooling tips, visit my Rochester-based Learning Center blog at www.SibleyCenter.com.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Craft Ideas for Your Toddler

Getting a toddler to sit still can be a near-impossible feat. They're constantly exploring the world around them. That's a good thing, but sometimes they need some creative downtime. That's where toddler crafts come in.

Crafting is great for toddlers for a number of reasons. It can help them develop longer attention spans. Most crafts help develop hand-eye coordination. And young children can benefit from learning how to follow simple instructions. Here are some craft ideas that your toddler can do (with supervision).

Modeling Clay Magic

Every kid loves to work up a piece of clay and make something unique. Although Play Doh is ubiquitous, I prefer to buy modeling clay because it actually strengthens your child's fine motor muscles. Beeswax takes even more warming up, which again, provides a great work-out for those developing fingers! Modeling clay and beeswax can be used again and again.

If your child wants to preserve a work of art, consider using Air Dry Clay. It doesn't give off any toxic fumes (like Sculpey and Fimo are rumored to do) and you can have even more fun painting it once it dries in about 24 hours. We have even tried making our own beads for one of a kind necklaces.

Craft Stick Puppets

Puppets are fascinating to toddlers. Creating their own puppets is easy, and it's lots of fun. All you really need are some craft or popsicle sticks, construction paper, safety scissors, markers and glue.

Help your toddler cut animal shapes out of construction paper. He can draw faces and other details with washable markers. Glue the stick to the back of the shape, let it dry, and you're ready to put on a puppet show. If you want to make more elaborate puppets, try cutting shapes out of foam. Glue on a pom pom for the nose, and add some googly eyes. My daughter just made a beautiful green dragon (we folded the looong body like a fan) with one stick under the head and another one at the tail. We decorated it with markers and were both pleased at how well it turned out.

Paint with Pudding

Kids love to fingerpaint, but it's so messy. And there's also the concern about them eating the paint. Even if the paints are nontoxic, it can make cautious parents uneasy. The solution? Let them paint with pudding!

You don't need different flavors to make different colors. Just use one serving of plain vanilla pudding, divide it up into small portions, and add food coloring to create various shades. Give your child a paper plate to use as a canvas for his masterpiece. When he's done, he can eat it with no worries.

This is also a great activity for practicing letter formation. It's not as tactile as a sand tray but far more tasty!

Design a T-Shirt

If your toddler sees you sewing or painting clothes with fabric paint, she may want to try her hand at designing clothes. But needles are small and sharp, and fabric paint is messy. What to do? Break out the markers!

Kids can have a blast decorating a plain white t-shirt with colorful markers. If you use washable ones, they can create a design, wear it, and start over after you wash the shirt. If a permanent design is desired, however, you'll have to let him use non-washable markers. You can avoid a mess by covering the work area with newspaper and putting a smock on your toddler.

Placemats

Making placemats out of contact paper is very easy. Have your toddler cut shapes out of construction paper and glue them onto a whole piece with a glue stick. He can add detail with markers or embellish with stickers. When he's done, place the artwork on a piece of contact paper, sticky side up. Place another sheet of contact paper on top, sticky side down.

Most toddlers will only have the patience to make one placemat at a time. But he can make another one tomorrow, continuing until there are enough for the whole table. He'll be so proud to know that everyone sees his artwork at every meal! These also make cute gift ideas for family members and friends.

Crafting can help your toddler learn important skills while keeping him quietly occupied. Whether it's a rainy day or he's just feeling creative, seize the opportunity to let him channel his imagination into something you can both admire. Stay tuned for more ideas on how to create a Montessori-inspired environment for your toddler to thrive in!

Enjoy,
Rebecca Wolf

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