10 Easy and Functional Crafts Preschoolers Can Do with Minimal Assistance
Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
When I need to get work done during the day and Kieran is having a hard time playing alone, I can usually engage him in a craft next to me. He likes to work alongside me – it’s still connection, even though we’re not engaging in a high level of interaction.
Craft activities for preschoolers often require quite a bit of parental involvement, so we’ve figured out some fun ones that he can do with little help. Following are ten easy and relatively inexpensive craft ideas that your preschooler can engage in with little assistance. Added bonus: all of these ten ideas double as something functional – whether it’s an educational component that your child can revisit later, decor for your home (can’t all craft projects be turned into home decor?!), or gifts for a friend or family member.
1. Cut and Paste
There is something about scissors and glue that can hold many a child’s attention for long, concentrated periods of time. In this activity for preschoolers who are mastering their ABC’s and the concept of grouping, there is an added element of learning. Ask your preschooler to cut out pictures that belong to some theme – you can choose “things that start with the letter P,” “animals,” “things that go,” etc. I would try to have a few of these items cut out for your child already so they can have something to use as a guide. Once your child has a group of similar items cut out, they can paste them onto a piece of paper. You can write the group category on the paper and then save these collages to pull out and discuss later.
2. Painting Garden Rocks
If you can move your work outside (or if you have a good indoor space for painting that you don’t have to worry about), find some good sized rocks, give your little one some paint, and let them get artistic. We use tempera paint, because we just repeat the project after our paint washes off of the rocks. But if you’re going to use the colorful garden rocks as gifts, I’d use something more permanent.
3. Decorate Homemade Greeting Cards, Recipe Cards, and Stationary
Some people are fabulous about sending out thoughtful letters and cards – this one is for you. Set your child up with stamps and ink pads (or create your own stamps from fruits or veggies), crayons, stickers, and other fun items and have them decorate blank note cards, stationary, or greeting cards.
You can set these aside to send out anytime you want to make someone smile. For the chefs among us, you can also create a homemade recipe card set to gift people on birthdays or holidays. Or for those of us who are incredibly organized (like Kellie of Mindful Life), you can turn your newly decorated 3×5 cards into a chore filing system.
4. Dress-up Creations
What kid wouldn’t want to wear something s/he had created?! There are several relatively easy craft ideas your preschooler can do with minimal assistance.
String necklaces made of colorful macaroni (you can dye them yourself in advance with natural dyes!1), large wooden beads, cereal, or use a hole puncher on shapes/pictures that your child cuts out of construction paper or magazines.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, let your child paint old shirts, aprons, or other dress-up clothes (another outside project perhaps) for the dress-up box. You could also cut a rudimentary cape out of an old sheet or spare fabric and let your little one paint that in his/her favorite superhero colors.
5. Create Your Own Wrapping Paper
This one is both a money saver and a fun way to personalize gifts – create your own wrapping paper using butcher or recycled paper decorated with paint, stickers, markers, or whatever other medium your child is in the mood for. We did this a couple of years ago using tempera paint – the results were beautiful, but be warned – the paint tends to fleck off when you wrap a package with the paper.
6. Decorate Your Walls with Art Displays
There are so many ways to brighten up your house using children’s artwork. I love this idea from Childhood 101 on creating an art space – what an inspirational place to make more art! In our house, we have a pretty art display board that Kieran proudly displays his creations on. You can also choose to find nice frames to hang your child’s artwork in – show it off around the house! Have a regular “art day” when your kids can sit next to you and create with whatever medium they choose – then rotate the artwork in and out of your regular display places.
7. Painting and Decorating for Gifts
There are so many simple items you can buy to decorate for gifts. The adults in your child’s life will enjoy watering cans, clay pots, wooden step stools, picture frames, or other items decorated by your little one. Because you’ll likely be using permanent paint to decorate with, this might be a good activity for an outside craft project (and you might want to have kids paint the clay pots in the yard so there is less of a chance that the pots will break).
8. Sticker Scenes
One of Kieran’s favorite easy crafts is to get out our box of stickers and put them all over paper. He can sit for quite awhile, calmly peeling off stickers and placing them in whatever order he thinks makes sense. To make this more of a “learning” experience, challenge your preschooler to create a scene made of various stickers. Feel free to offer some direction at first by showing them how they can put several stickers together, then telling a story about them. Once they’ve arranged their stickers on the page, have them narrate a story about their creation. No matter what the story, celebrate their creativity!
9. Playing Kitchen
For little ones who are eager to help you in the kitchen, turn the kitchen into their own personal creation space. Set your child up with playdough (you can make your own!) and real kitchen utensils: rolling pin, butter knife and cutting board, slotted spoon, egg separator, ice cream scoop, plate, bowl, measuring cups and spoons – anything remotely interesting that you use in the kitchen, pull it out. It can all be washed! You can even create “recipes” for your child to follow – feel free to use numbers and pictures instead of words to help your preschooler make sense of the recipes.2 What a fun, no-pressure way for kids to learn about kitchen utensils and the process of baking from a recipe!
10. Decorate Picture Frames with Nature or Miscellaneous Crafty Objects
Buy some cheap picture frames at your local dollar store, make sure they have plenty of room on the frame (not the glass) to glue objects on. Let your little one decide what to decorate the frames with – you could go on a nature walk and pick up things outside (twigs, leaves, dried flowers, etc.), or you could get out all of those random craft items that you’ve been saving for a rainy day (think googly eyes, feathers, colorful pipe cleaners, etc.). Let your child go crazy with a bottle of glue (remove the glass from the frame first so that there are no accidents).
What are your go to craft projects when you need some time and space to get your own work done?
What are your favorite art projects that can double as “functional”?
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 9 with all the carnival links.)
- Family Draw Time Art Show — Kate Wicker shares art (and inspiration!) from her family’s cherished tradition of family draw time.
- The Rules of Creativity: Learning to Create with the “Non-Creative” — Zoe at Give an Earthly shares how she learned to accept her “non-creative” child and claims that anyone, child or adult, can be creative given the right handling and environment.
- Creating With Kids: 4 Ways That Work For Us — See how Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings nurtures creativity with her kids through craft projects, outdoor creative play, celebrating the creative process, and setting up “little spaces of beauty.”
- Creating memories, not things — Mrs. Green from Little Green Blog reflects on life with a ten year old and how ‘creating together’ has evolved from ‘things’ to memories.
- The Gift of Creation — It may be hot, but Kellie at Our Mindful Life is already thinking about winter.
- Hidden Talents — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how providing the opportunity for creativity sometimes means learning to look for hidden talents in unusual places.
- Creating Joy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she and her one year-old son create joy for their community.
- How to do Crafts with Kids — Gaby from Tmuffin guest posts at Natural Parents Network and describes how to keep things simple when doing crafts with kids for magical (easy-to-clean, and tantrum-free) results.
- Sugar & Spice & Baking on the Kitchen Floor — Carrie at Love Notes Mama enjoys making a mess in the kitchen with her daughter.
- Young Scientist Makes Purple Potion — Hannah at Wild Parenting loves being a lab assistant for the young scientist in her life.
- Making a butterfly house — Lauren at Hobo Mama demonstrates the proper way to build a wooden butterfly house with a preschooler.
- Nurturing Creativity — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares the enjoyment she feels in nurturing the creativity of her children.
- Home School Music – Sparking A New Generation Of Musicians — Based on her musical background, Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she creates with and teaches music to her children.
- Creating (im)perfectly Together — Mudpiemama shares some of the highlights of a summer spent building everything from ships to hoops but most of a lesson on letting go of perfection.
- Family Soccer Kick Around — When her children wanted to play soccer, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children helped organize something that would work for her family.
- Creating Memories Together on Skype — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how you can create memories online with adult children or anyone who lives in another city or country.
- We’ll always have Halloween: Creating costumes for kids — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is not the craftiest mom on the block, but she does make a mean homemade Halloween costume.
- Let’s Make Juice! — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment shares about the benefits of juicing with kids, as well as a quick recipe.
- Everything’s Better When It’s Homemade — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro praises the art of homemade goods.
- Creating the Opportunity for Art — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how her family has created an environment conducive to art.
- 10 Easy and Functional Crafts Preschoolers Can Do with Minimal Assistance — Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers ten easy crafts preschoolers can do while sitting near parents — but they don’t need a lot of parental help. Added bonus: all of these ten ideas double as something functional (gifts, decor, educational).
- Creating with Kids: Singing Together — Ana at Pandamoly details the important role music takes in her household and provides a quick (and easy!) tutorial for creating fun songs to sing together!
- Create This — jessica at instead of institutions considers different aspects of creativity including those without an end product.
- Make Your Own Pocket Bib — A tutorial from Amy at Anktangle on how to make two simple and quick bibs to keep your little one clean at the table.
- Creating Together in the Kitchen — Despite not feeling “crafty,” Momma Jorje finds a way to create and connect with her toddler.
- An Artist-Mama’s Perspective — In this post, Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the differences between her choice of artistic outlet and her son’s, and how they embrace those differences together.
- Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids.
- Getting creative with kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how much she enjoys watching her daughter getting creative.
- Creating with Children – The Nature/Seasonal Table — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama celebrates the rhythm of the natural world with her toddler through the creation of a seasonal nature table.
- How Involving My Kid Saves My Sanity — The Happy Hippie Homemaker explains how involving her toddler in projects allows her to get more done, while providing valuable opportunities to teach and to bond (added bonus: amazing oatmeal raisin cookie recipe!).
- In the Kitchen with Kids — Cooking with Real and Pretend Food — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle engages her kids in the kitchen with culinary creations of both real and pretend food.
- Here’s a post on dying eggs with natural dyes; this one is on dying rice; dying macaroni with natural dyes would use the same concepts, but here’s an article specifically on dying macaroni with food coloring. ↩
- Here is a piece on non-reader recipes – obviously the recipes are for real food, but it can give you some ideas for playdough recipes. ↩
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"10 Easy and Functional Crafts Preschoolers Can Do with Minimal Assistance"
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