Craft time for little ones can be an excellent idea for a whole range of reasons. First, of course, there’s the obvious – it keeps them (and us!) entertained, helping keep them out of mischief and letting the day flow. But the cognitive and developmental benefits can’t be ignored, either. Manipulating different items helps improve gross and fine motor skills and encourages the development of things like their pincer grip – this is when babies learn to hold small objects between their thumb and finger rather than with their whole hand. Usually developing by about 9-12 months old, the pincer grip, among other things, is something children need to learn to do things like feed and dress themselves or hold a pencil. There are lots of ways to help children develop these skills, but craft time also comes with the advantage of helping with social and verbal skills as well, and in a way that is enjoyable for them!
One of the simplest – though perhaps not tidiest – crafts to get started with is drip painting. What is that, you ask? It’s pretty much exactly what it says on the box – painting with drips of paint rather than brushes. If you happen to have old Colostrum Collectors you’re no longer using, or perhaps one of our Easy-Squeezy Silicone Bulb Syringes, you can get started straight away! Just make sure you aren’t going to need those items again, since you’ll be filling them up with paint. Otherwise, any dropper you can get will do – empty sauce bottles can work great! Set up some paper outside to make it easier to tidy up afterwards, then let your little one start dripping paints in whichever colours and patterns they want! Just make sure they’re wearing old clothes and that you’re using water-based paints so you can clean up afterwards. Kids’ paints can be picked up from most stationery, craft, or toy stores in nice, vibrant colours for often not a huge price.
While you’ve got the paints out, why not try foot painting? Definitely a lot messier than even drip painting, foot painting, like finger painting, is nevertheless enormous fun, as well as being a great way to develop coordination and encourage sensory play. Just like drip painting, setting up outside, wearing old clothes, and sticking to children’s water-based paints are ideal. Set up some trays with different coloured paint to stand in, then let their imaginations take over! Haakaa even has a great little item to help keep foot painting a little cleaner. Pop a pair of these Shoe Covers on, and you’ll not only keep their feet clean, but the textured non-slip surface will be able to help create fun patterns as they work. Because they’re 100% silicone, they’re easy to clean – just rinse them off and leave them to dry!
Making Purées for Siblings
Older kids love to help, so letting them assist you with making purées for any younger siblings can be an excellent first step in developing cooking skills. Bananas are a nice, easy first food to work with for little hands, as they don’t require cooking and can easily be mashed with a fork or a potato masher, keeping things safe for your helper. Alternatively, letting them pop a portion out of the Pineapple Silicone Nibble Tray to put in the Fresh Food Feeder can help them feel really useful – just remember to close the lid yourself to make sure it’s nice and secure.
Scrap Paper/Nature Collages & Leaf Painting
Collaging is an especially good craft, and not only for our wee ones. You can utilise any materials you have around the house (or outside the house, in the case of nature collages), and there are no real rules about how to construct one – your imagination is your only guide. Of course, a way to stick down all your bits & pieces is needed (glue, typically), and something to stick it all to, but aside from that, you and your children are free to do whatever you would like. Collect scrap paper in different colours for a traditional paper collage or, for a nature version, going outside to collect leaves and flowers can give you some good time out in the fresh air while you’re at it. Autumn can be the best time to do a nature collage since there should be a good variety of leaves in different colours and shapes to find. Outline a shape in pencil on your paper, then use your leaves or scrap paper to fill it in or just get abstract and creative! If you have leaves and paint left over, you can also create some leaf paintings. Just paint a thin layer of paint onto one leaf’s surface, then press it onto a sheet of paper – much like a stamp!
Egg Carton Art
Egg carton crafts probably need no introduction – the ubiquitous egg carton caterpillar will be familiar to many people from their own childhoods. But, of course, there are so many more things you can do than just caterpillars – flowers (including flower wreaths!) or animals can be quick and easy to make while giving kids a real sense of accomplishment. They’re also particularly easy to decorate, being made from fairly sturdy paper pulp, they can handle being painted or coloured with markers, can have items glued to them (try out googly eyes, pipe cleaners, mini pompoms or card), and hold their shape very well when cut up. You can also expand this to include paper plates – they provide a great flat surface to work on!
For those with children who are learning to read and write, dot stickers can be an amazing way to put some fun into learning their letters. And even if they aren’t quite at that stage yet, letters can be substituted for shapes. How? Grab a piece of paper, draw a good-sized letter or shape on and put it on a vertical surface (the wall, a corkboard, or maybe stuck to the fridge with a magnet). The floor is also fine if a vertical surface isn’t readily available. Give the dot stickers to your child, and have them follow the outline of their letter or shape. This lets them learn how different lines and curves fit together in a fun way – lots of kids LOVE having the chance to put stickers on things. You could even expand to having them fill in their whole name! Another option is to have a range of options, then call out a specific number, letter, or shape, and let your little one put a sticker on the right page, making it fun and educational!
Do you have any go-to craft ideas for your little ones?