Do you think arts and crafts are too hard for toddlers? Think again!
Updated: Jul 9, 2022
If your kids are anything like mine, they can stay busy with art supplies for hours! Our house constantly looks like an explosion of paints, crayons and glitter. At first I worried about all the mess, but over time, seeing my little girl's joy has helped me to embrace it.
Here are some ideas of crafts that my daughter loves to do. If you are looking for more ideas, you can also check out her two favorite YouTube channels:
You may be one of those moms that wants to keep kids off of devices as much as possible, but these ladies really do inspire them to make their own art, so I feel like it is worth it. They will also tell their young viewers when a craft is something that a parent should be helping with. Plus, I am not super crafty myself (I have burned myself with the glue gun at least twice!) so it helps to get ideas I may not have thought of too.
General Craft Advice
There are several things to keep in mind when you are starting your kiddo out with crafts.
First, always take into account their developmental level, because getting a craft that ends up being too hard for them can be super frustrating (for you AND them). Most activities that you buy in the store will have a recommended age. I used to ignore them, but I have stopped after my daughter ugly cried because something was too hard.
Second, read all the instructions, and make sure you have all the supplies before you show them to your child. It's no fun having to rush out at the last minute for one more thing when you are all covered in glue or some undistinguishable powder. I'm lucky my partner reads instructions for everything, because I never used to. It's important to know that slime has to sit for 3 days, or that when you put 7 coats of paint on something it is going to be wet for quite a while.
Third, make sure you have a suitable space for a mess. We always do crafts in the kitchen, since the floor cleans up much easier. Also, if you have a little money, getting your craft a dedicated craft table can keep your kitchen table as a useable space while your LO's crafts spend a couple days drying.
Finally, with toddlers, be sure that everything you get is washable. This applies to paint, glue, markers, and whatever else you may be using. Wait until they have shown to be responsible with the washable supplies before you move on to anything else. If a kid colors on the wall with washable marker it is easy to clean (I recommend Windex and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - this isn't a sponsored post, but it could be!) but if they do it with a sharpie, you are going to probably have to repaint your walls.
With these basic tips in mind, I hope you all have fun with some crafting!
With really little ones (I think my daughter is about a year and a half in this picture) the most basic art skill you can teach them is to color with crayons. You can have them use coloring books, or even blank office paper.
It is important to make sure to watch little ones closely with crayons, until they have gotten passed the stage where they eat everything. Otherwise, it goes in the mouth too!
Coloring teaches them about colors, shapes, and basic skills like staying inside the lines on a picture. Don't stress if they aren't coloring inside the lines right away, my daughter is just learning to do that regularly at 4.
First, you can teach them to draw a line, a circle or a square. An easy way to do this at first is with stencils, or having them trace around things like their hands. That allows them to get a feel for the way they need to move their hands to get the desired results.
Another great thing about coloring is that once your child gets to like it, you can bring a coloring book anywhere to keep them occupied. At restaurants, most of the time the children's menu will come with a coloring activity too, and that really opens up the door to having a nice dinner for the first time in a while!
Learning to Use Glue and Scissors
After learning to use crayons, you can teach your little one to use scissors and glue. These are basic foundational art skills that they will need to learn to make more complicated crafts.
Child safety scissors will come with an age recommendation on the package, so you will know that you are buying some that are age-appropriate. Some scissors will come with a safety cap, but even so, it is important to teach kids to hold them with the point down if they need to carry them anywhere. This can avoid any type of injury.
Child's glue is washable, and non-toxic in case your kiddo decides to eat some. It is easier to teach little ones to use a glue stick before they use bottled glue, because they have a tendency to squeeze out way more glue than what is needed.
During back to school time is a great time to pick up scissors and glue for cheap, as well as supply boxes for their art supplies.
Little ones love to cut out shapes and glue them onto something else. At first, my daughter was fascinated just cutting paper into tiny strips, or asking me to cut out a certain shape. After a while she has gotten more sophisticated, and yours will too.
Tons of crafts involve paints, so teaching kids basic paint skills is important as well. You can start little ones off with finger paints until they are able to use a paint brush.
There are watercolor paint books with all different kinds of pictures for kids to paint, on more durable paper than a regular coloring book. Some of River's favorites are sea creatures and Scooby Doo.
When kids get into the preschool age, they can also start doing paint-by number books, with increasingly difficult patterns as they get older.
Painting Wood Crafts
River, my 4 year old, loves to paint and make things that she can keep around the house. This is a jewelry box that her sister gave her to paint. She loves her jewelry too, so this was a wonderful activity for her!
It is great for kids to be able to make something that they will use! That is one reason I love these easy wood crafts. Also, you can get a bunch of them at the Dollar Store too! That means, for the craft itself and the paint, you probably spend about $2 for something that will keep them busy for several hours when they make it, plus turn into something they love using!
I know, I know, a lot of you cringe at the thought of glitter just the way Peppa Pig's mom does. It can be a mess to clean up sometimes, but kids also really love it.
For this craft, we just tore out some coloring book pages, then River rubbed her glue stick all over the picture. Finally, sprinkle with glitter! It's important to wait several hours after to let it dry! Then, you can hang it up anywhere as a decoration!
This is great and super easy, because most coloring books now a days have tear-out pages. If you like, you could also laminate them, or put them into a photo holder.
Make Art out of Stickers
Stickers are great for little kids, especially if they don't really know how to draw yet. There are tons of great sticker books out there (you can even get them at Dollar Tree!) with favorite kids cartoon characters.
Kids also love to stick stickers onto plain paper, or use them to decorate their toy boxes, supply boxes, or other types of crafts that have been completed.
Kids love to make slime, and it can be super relaxing to play with. There are all different types of pre-made slime out there. They range from a slime in a case, different colors with add-ins, or a kit to make your own. There are also tons of slime recipes online that you can make with household items like glue, contact solution, or borax soap.
I always have my daughter hold her slime over a large baking dish (I stole this from the 100's of slime ASMR videos we have watched - can you tell we get a ton of ideas from YouTube?) so that she doesn't get slime on anything.
One good thing about slime, even though it is a huge mess, it is also water soluble. Slime will watch off of hands and clothes easily, with plain soap and water.
Whether you buy a couple of cans of play dough, or entire sets, kids can spend hours making interesting creations!
Playing with play dough can also teach them about shapes and colors, and improves their fine motor skills, when they mold the dough into new shapes.
You can have your kids make shapes out of play dough with cookie cutters, or mold them in all different sets that come with their own dough. We have Minnie Mouse, an Ice Cream Stand, Pasta set, and picnic set with hamburgers and other snacks. There are many other sets too, and we got our first ones at a thrift store, so it doesn't have to be expensive either.
Dollar Tree doesn't typically sell the original brand, but they do have several other brands for sale there most of the time.
Crafts from Books or Magazines
If you subscribe to any kids' magazines, most of them have crafts that you can do with your little ones, and they are automatically geared toward your child's age, and the season.
In this craft from Highlights High-Five magazine, we made flower pots out of little cups and construction paper. River really had a great time with it, and we were able to tie it in to talking about how in the Spring we plant things, for them to grow over the summer. She was super excited to have her own little garden plants.
In addition to magazines, there are tons of books you can check out at the library to make different craft projects too!
Crafts from Recycled Household Products.
You can have your kids make crafts out of left over things around the house like cardboard boxes, egg cartons, paper towel rolls, and so much more! Last weekend my partner helped our little one make a robot out of leftover products from around the house, all wrapped in tinfoil, and decorated with glitter.
You can also make these cute caterpillars out of egg cartons from Grace This Place.
If you have a lot of towel rolls you can also cut them down the middle to make into something like a suit of armor, again wrapped with tinfoil. You just use pieces for each of the arms and the legs. This works out great if kids want to play that they are knights or something.
These are some basic craft ideas to get your started making art with your little ones. As they get older, they will be able to do more difficult and varied crafts.
Let me know if your kids like these crafts, and any other projects that you like to do at home in the comments!
Feel free to share on your socials too if you like these ideas, or pin them for later.
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