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I'm trying to encourage more independent play in my 3.5 year old, and I'd like to find some crafts (or any kind of activity really) that I can set him up with that he can do totally by himself (once I've given him all the materials and explained everything to him).

Does such a thing exist?
 

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I often set DS up at the kitchen table while I am cooking and stuff. I still need to be in the room otherwise paint ends up everywhere but he will usually play for quite a while. We don't tend to do the kind of crafts where things have to be stuck in the right places to make a finished object.

Playdough, we make our own with cutters rolling pins, plastic cutlery and anything else we can press into it to make patterns.

Threading cherios type cereal onto a shoelace (OK we still have more eating than threading at 3)

Painting, we have different thickness brushes, old tooth brushes, a few sponges and or course fingers. We also like to put a couple of blobs on a baking tray for the kids to mix and smear around. Sometimes we put a sheet of paper on top to make a print. Often we don't bother.

Glueing, I used to keep a small box of shapes ready cut out to hand out with a glue stick. Now DS prefers to cut his own shapes so I keep old wrapping paper and junk mail with pictures I think he will like. This is probably his favourite activity.

In terms of making things we've decorated containers with a plastic lid and cut a slot in the lid to make a money box, decorated a cereal box to keep all the artwork in.
 

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My 3.5 year old DS loves water colors and glitter glue. I put some newspaper down on the kitchen counter and give him a sheet of paper and he goes to town. We also have some window crayons that he loves to draw on the sliding glass door with. Glue sticks are also a favorite. It's mostly just experiencing materials and not actually creating something for him right now. HTH!
 
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