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Productive Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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We don't do a lot of crafts around here. I can't deal with the imperfections, the messes. It's just ... ugh.


So today, on a total whim, we made these


based on a pin that happened to pop up during my boys' nap time. I had bought the canvases EONS ago, and saved them for... I know not what. In fact, we used to have 10 but we sold most of them at a yard sale. It was my husband who had the good sense to grab two of them back from the "for sale" sign.


We also had the tape, and the paints. Paints that we had received for my older son's 2nd birthday, 2.5 years ago. Paints that had been used, oh, once before.


Mainly I can't stand crafty stuff because of the mess, but in the end the mess is worth it if you produce something cool, something they can hang up on their wall, or gift to someone. Most little kid's crafts don't fit that criteria for me. It's just not worth it, most of the time. But this project? It totally worked for me. The boys had a blast, they look great, and we've FINALLY used those darn canvasses and the paint that normally just sits in my craft closet.


So I guess what I'm saying is, dear Hive... do you know of more projects like this? Doable by teeny tots and preschoolers, and yet not something that will just create another awful mess to be hung on the fridge for a week until we can unceremoniously dump it?


I've been inspired by the French Graphisme handwriting instruction at their preschools. It's basically paintings/collages made out of pre-writing shapes, and yet it's colorful, and it works. That's one option. Any others you can think of?








I've bought art books with projects for preschoolers, but I'm sorry, I'm just not into gluing macaroni or cotton puffs. :(

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I love the project you linked, nice one.


We are not macaroni and cotton ball types here either, though we do love art. My favorite projects have been the ones made with quality art supplies - real canvas, nice paints, that sort of thing. But with little tots, we can't always use the good stuff, as it could be toxic. So I've been known to resort to less quality items.


These ideas might be too crafty for you, but some hits here have been:


White dishtowels with handprints in fabric paint - these made nice grandparent gifts, so they'd have kiddo's handprints in their kitchen.


Handprints & footprints on small canvases.


Sculpey or some other nice quality hardening clay, rolled into balls then pressed down with a glass - put something under the glass like a leaf or something with interesting texture - make hole near top before it dries, and hang on a ribbon.


What about making those Waldorf paper stars, for the window?


Oh, and this one... This was a less permanent project, but I loved the look of it, and it got tons of compliments all fall.


I'll be watching this thread for more ideas. :)

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I did find this last night when I searched for preschool / kindergarten art.




I cut them out last night, and now we have these:


As well as three more made by my toddler, but they didn't make a nice "square" for an Instagram photo, so no shot. ;)


That was crafty, but nice.


Another idea I've seen is turning all their scribbles and paintings into something by cutting out squares or triangles, then creating a visual "quilt" or pennant banner.


Along that line, I've got the boys going to town on some white paper with their do-a-dot markers. Now I know that I can turn the "art works" into cool collage quilts. That was one inspiring thing I learned from Googling last night individual works don't have to be perfect. If you do a few over time, then combine them, it can look fantastic. Of course K Art teachers have multiple students, but I can achieve the same effect by using pieces the boys have created over time.

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OOOOH I found an awesome one:




But, like the canvas art we did yesterday, it requires a nice frame and more expensive materials.


And yet, if it means having legitimately cool, kid-created art, I'd do one of these every month or two gladly, rather than make a disposable craft every other day.

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I have the same attitude toward crafts - we rarely do crafts, although the scrap paper, markers and crayons are always out if they want. It is a hard age because their motor skills are not up to par, so to create something beautiful you want to 'pre-create' the base materials which they assemble, rather than making an entire piece from scratch. Some examples of craft that we've liked.


1. Leaf collages

"Look What I Did With a Leaf" has lovely ideas. It also ties in nicely with this time of the year, although you do need patience when preparing the leaves.



2. Greeting cards

We use paper punches and stickers liberally, then ask the child to write part of the greeting (even if it is just the first letter of a word :) ) to make Thank you and Birthday cards.

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