Toddlers are naturally creative. They will explore, build, color, dump, or spray just about anything to see what happens next. It’s fun to watch them discover, but it can also be frustrating for the person who has to clean up the mess. Next time your toddler is in a creative mood, help him harness some of that creative energy with a few simple craft ideas using items from around your house as your art supplies.
Before you can start, you’ll need just a few basic craft and art tools, most of which you probably already have at home: paper, crayons, markers, paint, glue or glue stick, kiddie scissors, pipe cleaners, and tape.
Now You Are Ready to Create
Making Tracks: Lay down newspaper on the table or get your art table ready for a paint project. Find one or more old or little-used toy cars or trucks with ridges on the wheels. On a piece of scrap paper, put down a few small dollops of paint in different colors. Then give your toddler a big piece of construction paper for the “road.” Have him “drive” the car through one color of paint, then “drive” the car across his page, making colored tracks. Repeat with a different color or another vehicle with different track marks.
Egg-er-pillars: Take an empty egg carton and slice it in half lengthwise (so it is only one egg-cup wide). Then turn it upside down and let your child paint or color each of the “bumps.” With a marker, draw on two eyes at the end (on the last egg-cup). Fold a pipe cleaner into a “V” shape. Punch a small hole on the top of the end “bump” above the eyes and insert the pipe cleaner, “V” point down, into the hole for “antennas.”
Bird feeder: Take a large pinecone and tie a long cord around the center of it. Spread vegetable shortening all over the pinecone, and then roll it in birdseed. Use the cord to hang it from a tree and watch the birds come for a feast.
Picture frames: Help your toddler decorate popsicle sticks with markers or glitter glue, then glue the popsicle sticks into a square. Take a photograph or a picture from a magazine and glue it into the “frame.”
Necklaces: Give your toddler a piece of yarn with a large knot or clip at the end. Then give him an assortment of large uncooked macaroni or other pasta that has a hole in the center. Let your toddler string the pasta on the yarn to make a necklace. You can use different colored pasta to make new patterns.
Bracelets: Cut a toilet paper tube down the side lengthwise, then cut curly strips (width-wise) that are two or three inches wide. Let your toddler decorate the bracelets with paint, and then help her embellish with glitter glue, beads, or sequins.
Crazy faces: Collect a variety of small items from around the house (cotton balls, chopped up plastic straws, old buttons, pieces of yarn, cut-up ribbon, etc.) and put them in a small container on the table. Then give your toddler a piece of paper and some glue, and let her create a crazy “face” by gluing the items on the paper.
Cardboard castle: Take a large cardboard box, cut off the top flaps, and then cut a squared-off pattern of “turrets” across the top edges and “towers” at each corner. Cut a small rounded doorway at one side so that the door lowers as a “drawbridge.” Then have fun helping your little one decorate the outside with markers, paint, stickers, glitter, ribbon, magazine pictures, or anything else you have around the house.