Toddlers and preschoolers have a knack for making something useful out of the strangest objects. Pretend play boosts social, emotional and language development, notes Scholastic. Giving your little one plenty of chances to foster her imagination with a variety of playthings is ideal. Kill two birds with one stone by giving your child a pile of paper bags to play with and clean out your overflowing cupboard at the same time.
1. Dress Up
Pint-size dress-up clothes let your toddler or preschooler pretend to be someone else for an afternoon, an activity that promotes empathy, according to Scholastic. Open a paper bag, cut arm holes and trim it to your child's size to make a vest. Wrap an opened paper bag around your child's waist and secure with tape to make a skirt. Roll the edges of the bag down a couple of times, scrunch them in to fit your child's head and attach a piece of tape to hold it in place. Now you have a hat that your little one will be proud to show off. Use paper scraps, crayons, markers, sequins, glitter and stickers to embellish your child's new wardrobe.
Masks are a fun way for your child to emulate her favorite character or superhero or make her own fantasy creature. Fit a large paper bag over your little one's head and mark where her eyes are. Remove the bag and cut holes so she can see while she runs around roaring, cheering or singing. Let her deck her bag out with a face drawn with crayons or markers. Add hair, bows, a cape, horns, ears, antennae and anything else she feels completes her mask.
Making a paper bag puppet is a rite of childhood that you don't want your toddler or preschooler to miss out on. Use a small paper lunch bag, which fits better on little hands. Turn the bag into an animal or person by gluing on body parts cut from colored construction paper. When the glue dries, put the puppets on and perform a puppet show behind the couch. This is a fun and easy activity to do with a group of young kids at a birthday party or play date.
4. Holiday Projects
The holidays are a fun time to do craft projects with your child. Paper bags make an ideal addition to your craft supply closet. Cut the top edge off a large paper bag, about an inch or two wide. Glue each end of the strip to one inside edge of the top of the bag to create a handle. Fill the bag with Easter grass and leave it for the Easter bunny to fill with treats. To make a Christmas stocking, open a large paper bag, fold it in half, draw the outline of a stocking and cut it out from both pieces of the bag. Glue the two pieces together, leaving the top open. Decorate with stickers, glitter or shapes cut from paper. Hang the stocking on your tree or mantle. Cut leaf shapes from a paper bag, paint them red, orange and yellow, and string them on a length of yarn to create an autumn garland for your front door.
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