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Craft ideas for young children

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I am distinctly non-crafty, but have a 3 year old who LOVES crafts.  She even loves to watch the boring craft-making show on PBS.  I've been trying to have a daily craft time with her, but I really have no idea what to do.  When I try to look up ideas online, I find lots of really specific projects, like "Make a holiday wreath!" or whatever.  I'm looking for more open-ended, materials-based ideas to inspire her to create.  OR ideas for extremely simple product-type crafts that she could reasonably accomplish on her own.  Maybe skills for her to work on.  Stuff that will keep her occupied for a long time without the need for instruction.  At the moment, we don't really have a good craft space, so she doesn't have a bunch of craft materials (aside from crayons, paper, stickers) handy all day.  I generally try to pull a selection out a craft time, but all I've really got is playdough day, painting day, and cutting/gluing paper day.  I feel like she's never quite satisfied with that...Can anyone help me out with some ideas?

post #2 of 4

Yarn to cut and practice tying

Maybe some lacing cards to practice sewing motions with a shoestring

Slices of wood from a tree branch (2" or larger), or scrap wood, for painting or drawing on with markers

Washable markers for drawing

Cheap thrift stores picture frames to paint and decorate, then put her artwork into

Make a cardboard gingerbread house for her to decorate

Bits of scrap fabric for gluing

Large wooden beads for stringing, if she can keep them out of her mouth


Decoupage--glue paper onto things to decorate

Hole punch to play with, and maybe a stapler



If you think she's ready to start on some adventures with woodworking:  some pine scraps, a small hacksaw, a small rasp, and a small hammer.

post #3 of 4

There are quite a lot of options with paint & playdough.


With the dough if you make your own you can make several colours and play with mixing them, add different scents. Put out different things to use with it, cutters, potato masher, garlic press, pinecones, plastic animals. Plastic scissors work well with play dough.


Make some plain salt dough (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt and enough water to form a dough) then you can make things, bake in a low over an paint them.


Again with the paints you don't have to stick to plain old paintbrushes. Look around the house for things to print with (we've used cookie cutters, toy cars, duplo bricks, cut up dish sponges, leaves)


Mix in extra water and put blobs of paint on the paper and blow them with straws.


There are lots of recipies online for finger paints too.


A tray of shaving foam, lots of fun. Add a bit of food colour, on the top, mix gently then you can lay paper over the top and take a print. Cool marbled paper.


Sandpaper and scraps of wool - the wool should stick on the sandpaper so you can make patterns.


Beads and pipe cleaners - my kids still love this one.


Lanterns - glue coloured tissue paper onto an empty jar. You can put a small candle inside. Mine like them with the LED candles as a bedtime light.


Have a look on pintrest, there are loads of ideas. I regularly loose hours browsing round there.

post #4 of 4

You know your child best, but I would not shy away from real craft supplies at that age. My daughter, who is now 9, was sewing with a needle and thread at 3. Of course she was just making a mess with it, but it was good practice. I would give her duller needles meant for knit fabric and squares of wool flannel that were easy to pierce with the needle. She learned to thread her own needles and how to sew in a straight line pretty much on her own. Little snippy scissors for cutting thread are less dangerous than big shears and if she has time now to learn to be safe with them she'll benefit from it.


Finger knitting is another good thing, something my daughter still enjoys and often teaches to younger children. Here is a link to good instructions. I suggest letting her use nice yarn, too, not cheap acrylic. Earlier in my mothering life I might have been skeptical that offering high quality supplies could have any effect on the kids later but I do believe it does now. 


Also, my  boys did all this too (and are still doing it). Needle Felting (they generally only poke themselves once), sewing, finger knitting, everything. Someone gave us a drop spindle recently and we spent yesterday trying to figure it out. I'm hoping my 7 year old son will be interested as he has sensory issues that I think it will be soothing to. 


Best wishes. 

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