Let’s face it, some crafts are really for mom and dad. You know the ones–those beautiful, Pinterest-worthy projects that require the adult to do most steps. Those craft projects are great for special occasions and grandma gifts, but for everyday crafting with toddlers, it’s about process and play. I opened my business when my daughter Frances was four months old, so she has grown up in a craft store trying all sorts of arts and crafts. Here is a list of Frances’ favorite crafts: the good, the bad, and the messy!
1. Rainbow Rice
Rainbow Rice is as fun to make as it is to play with. You simply mix rice with food coloring or liquid watercolor and let it dry. Make separate batches of different colors and when they are dry you mix them together. We keep Rainbow Rice in a big tub table meant for sand. Throw in some cups or containers and a few plastic lizards. Frances happily plays with this every day. If you don’t want to sweep up rice spills, set up your Rainbow Rice outdoors.
2. Paint with Water
Paint with Water pads are coloring books that are pre-printed with water soluble ink in patterns on the page. When painted with water, the color patterns blend to create a watercolor effect. We started with these and then moved on to another style that has small palettes of color on the paper that can be moistened and used to paint the coloring sheets. We have even made our own by drawing with water soluble markers and coloring with stripes or dots. Frances loves paint with water activities and I love that they are not too messy and don’t require much in the way of materials.
3. Felt Shapes
We have buckets of leftover felt scraps. Literally. Buckets. So I started cutting out small shapes for Frances to play with. I punched holes in some of them which she strings onto pipe cleaners. I’ve also cut out letters and numbers for her. Frances loves sorting and arranging her felt shapes on a sheet of felt. She also likes to glue them to paper. She especially loves dictating new shapes to be cut– “Now make me a yellow circle, Mom!”
4. Paint Glue
A lot of toddlers love to use glue, but then they never actually stick anything onto the glue. They just love squeezing it out! So make it a bit more artful and add paint to your half full glue bottles. Frances goes a bit crazy with this one! It works best on card stock or cardboard because the puddles of different colored glue can get too heavy for regular paper.
Washi style tape is very popular these days and there are lots of colors and patterns available now. It is a great craft material to use with little kids. It is easy to tear or cut with plastic children’s scissors and for really little ones you can cut lots of strips and lay them out on the edge of a table for them to use. Frances loves to just stick it all over construction paper.
Don’t be intimidated by arts and crafts or have crazy expectations for the end result. Just try different materials until you find the ones your child likes, and enjoy exploring them together!