Not so long ago, the simplest of craft activities satisfied your 3-year-old -- crayons and paper could keep her entertained for at least minutes on end. Now, she's no longer satisfied to explore her creative side with such boring basics, and it's time to bring out a brand new arsenal of crafts to entertain your kiddo and stimulate her developing senses.
1. Crafty Kitchens
Encourage your youngster to explore his senses with a crafty afternoon in the kitchen. While baking may seem like a boring activity to you, think of all the sensory stimulation from making a batch of cookies. Get your child to help measure and pour the ingredients in the mixing bowl and then -- with clean hands -- let him get gooey and sticky in the kitchen by kneading the dough with his hands. When it's ready for the next step, roll out the dough and hand your kiddo a wooden craft stick so he can make his own shapes from the dough. Bake and cool his custom cookie shapes, and try to keep your excited little baker busy by getting some tasty toppings ready. It's time for his crafty side to kick in again so he can transform his uniquely shaped cookies into delectable desserts with colored sugars, frosting, candy-coated chocolates and edible icing pens.
2. The Wonderful World of Paint
The next time craft time comes around, introduce your youngster to a whole new world of painting. Sure, she may have painted a few pictures in the past, but this craft activity is unlike any other. It's not just about making a new piece of artwork -- it's about learning all the ways to make art. Collect some old rags, cut-up veggies, sponges cut in different shapes, newspapers, cotton swabs and some empty squeeze bottles. Cut some painting paper into different large shapes and lay them out on the table -- make sure the table is well covered or it may get a paint job, too. Fill some small shallow bowls with paint and it's time to let your kiddo explore the many different ways she can make art. Your 3-year-old can dip the rags and newspaper in the paints and dab or glide them across the paper shapes. Let her find a brand new use for veggies by turning them into painting stamps and then see the difference when she does the same with the sponges. If she's still yearning for more, fill the squeeze bottles with some paint and then stand back so she can give squeeze painting a try. (You may want to cover the walls and floor for this one!) Now there's just one thing left: a painting craft just isn't complete until she's added some finger painting to the mix. When she's finally had enough, let the painted shapes dry and then poke a hole through the top of each one. Hang the paintings individually on her wall or turn them into a mobile.
3. Shake Those Music Makers
If your little guy's a music lover, let him make his very own instruments. Dig out some old margarine containers and fill them a third full with dried beans or rice. Seal the lid on tight with clear tape and let your child decorate the brand new music maker with markers, stickers, glitter and glue. If one instrument just isn't enough, help him make a set of tin can drums to go with his shakers. Start with an empty formula or coffee can. Cut off the end of a balloon and slide it over the open end of the can. Cut off the end of another balloon and poke a bunch of holes through what's left. Slide the balloon onto the can on top of the first and the drum is just about done. Give your youngster some construction paper shapes, stickers, foil paper and glue, and let him liven up his new drums. If his one-man band needs just one more instrument, help him make his own kazoo from a paper towel or toilet paper roll. Let him decorate the roll with stickers and markers. Slide a piece of wax paper over one end and secure it with an elastic band. Poke a tiny hole through the wax paper and you're done!
4. Alphabet Art
It's not so long before your kiddo will be starting kindergarten, so why not sneak in some extra learning activities during craft time if she hasn't already mastered her ABCs? Pick up a craft foam alphabet or use wooden letters instead. You can even cut the letters from some poster board for an inexpensive craft. Now it's time to raid the craft box and bring out as many different items as you can find -- from pipe cleaners and pompoms to glitter and glue. Lay all the items out like a smorgasbord of embellishments and let your youngster transform the ordinary letters into decorative artwork to hang on her wall. You can help her make each letter into an animal with construction paper ears or let her use her imagination and come up with a theme for each one. When all of the letters are complete, arrange them on her wall so she can work on her ABCs anytime.
- The Toddler's Busy Book: 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your 1 1/2- to 3-Year-Old Busy; Trish Kuffner
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