Who doesn’t love Valentine’s Day? As a teacher, I used to go ALL out. These days, I like to enjoy a few special crafts and treats with my toddler. Here are two crafts that we completed this week.
If you know me, you know that I’m a huge fan of age-appropriate crafts. I don’t think it’s fair for my perfectionist self to get in the way of my son’s fine motor skill practice and love of making a mess. Therefore, these crafts are both easy and developmentally great! To make heart puppets, cut out hearts from construction paper. Then let your toddler go wild with paint, glitter, cotton balls, or anything else you have in the house. We used googly eyes, white paint and markers. Then attach the heart to a popsicle stick, and there you have it!
This is a fun and easy craft using a toilet paper roll. Use tape to form the roll into a heart, then let your toddler dip the roll in paint and stamp hearts on a piece of paper. J loved this activity!
Building a Tent
There may not be a better way to revisit your childhood than to make a tent with your kids. And no, I’m not talking about the cutesy ones you can buy for over $100. Although I would love one of those, it’s not a cost I’m ready to justify yet! We were stuck inside this week due to weather and a stomach bug, so we had fun making a huge tent with a blanket, some toys, and waffle blocks. We had so much fun and played in it for hours!
One activity that I really love is giving James a cupcake tray with a variety of magnets and letting him sort and play with them. He is really into his letters these days too, so he loves this activity. This can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on how exciting the items are in the tray! You can also use a cookie tray, but I find that something about sorting objects really entices kids. In the photo below, I literally threw things together that I could find in the dining room to give him while I made lunch. He loved it! Sensory items work great, such as cotton balls, balls of tinfoil, Q-tips, cold macaroni, etc. Kids love touching and sorting, and this activity is just perfect for a cozy winter day!
Inside Play Gym
Fortunately for us, our area has a variety of indoor play places/gyms for toddlers. We have almost tried every one out! This week we went to Tumbling Tykes for the first time, and James absolutely loved it. He loves to run, and we don’t get much opportunity to be outside right now, so this is perfect. Play gyms are basically large areas with carpet or foam padding where kids can run, jump, slide, ride little cars, and play with toys. Gyms are great for gross motor skill development, social development, and just an all around a good time to get all that toddler energy out! I recommend looking up play gyms in your area, especially during the winter months. It’s awesome for mommy socialization too, and I always love that!
Kids love any kind of paint, and they love to get messy! Although I admit I’m kind of a control freak, watercolors are great because they come off skin pretty easily, and I love watching James get messy once and a while! What I don’t enjoy about winter is being cooped up inside and dealing with an inside mess- which is why I usually put James in his highchair for any kind of paint or sensory play. He’s only 16 months, and doesn’t really understand how to keep the mess containted yet, so this works perfectly. Plus, he really looks forward to the time in our day when we get to do something creative like this. He’s actually really great about dipping his paintbrush in the water then the color, and he gets so serious about it! I definitely recommend watercolors as part of your schedule at least once a week 🙂
Day at the Museum
One of our favorite winter activities is visiting our local Children’s Museum. It is definitely not a “Winter only” activity, but great for chilly weather when you just want to get out of the house. We visited recently, and had a great time! Luckily, Chris was able to join us, but it is something that I would do with both babies on my own. Since it was a school day, it was very empty and James loved running around exploring.
Christmas Cookies, of Course!
Although I wasn’t part of an elaborate cookie exchange this year, and I am trying hard to keep the sweets out of our house, we just had to make some cookies for Christmas! I chose snickerdoodles because I thought they’d be easy to decorate for James, and I think they taste better than sugar cookies 🙂 Whenever we are bored, no matter what time of year, we bake or cook! It’s something so easy and fun that kids love to help with. Food is great to use for sensory play as well. We have done spaghetti with a splash of paint for color, whipped cream, jello, and water just to name a few! Don’t be afraid to get messy with kids. I am a perfectionist, and even I find joy in letting kids get messy and go crazy once in a while, especially in the winter when we can’t get outdoors often 🙂 Here are the cookies!
This snowflake was a super easy but fun craft we did yesterday. All you have to do is use painter’s or masking tape to make a snowflake on paper (I used cardstock for more durability). Then let your little one go wild! We chose red, green, and gold colors for Christmas but blues and grays would be cute too. James loved using his paintbrush and cotton balls to paint the entire page on top of the tape. When he was finished, I removed the tape before drying and this beautiful snowflake came out! I loved this craft because James was so cute and precise (look at his serious face!) and it was great practice for fine motor skills. Don’t get me wrong, I love handprint crafts like the one below, and they make perfect gifts, but these are great because they are very child centered. I basically did everything for the handprint craft, but it will make a beautiful Christmas decoration for years to come. Here is our handprint Santa:
One of the things I love to do is combine fine motor skills with arts and crafts. I also love themed crafts and activities, because, lets be honest, I am a teacher. Today I drew this snowman for James and had him glue the cotton balls to the body using a glue stick. This required some help, but he really enjoyed the texture of the cotton balls! Then, I showed him how to use a white crayon to dot snow all around the snowman. You can also use a Q-tip and white paint for this part, but we ran out of white paint! He really enjoyed this activity and it was quite fitting for our snowy day.