Busy little hands and minds this month by helping your children create fun, homemade keepsakes you’ll love to display every holiday season. Crafting is an excellent brain-booster for toddlers. Not only are you engaging their minds and imaginations, but you’re also working on fine motor skills, dexterity, sensory stimulation, and following directions.
Anytime you’re crafting with young children, it’s important to watch them closely, especially if you’re using small items like buttons, beads, and cotton balls. Remind your toddler at the beginning of the activity that snack time comes when craft time ends. Have somepeanut butter puffs or munchableteething wafers handy, and reward them for keeping non-edible items away from their mouths!
Why We Love It: The recipe is simple, and it makes for fun sensory play as your toddler squishes, rolls, and shapes the dough. Salt dough ornaments are perfect for children of all ages and every skill level; a great crafting option for the whole family.
What You’ll Need:4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup table salt, 1 ½ cup of warm water. Grab your large mixing bowl, and add in the flour and salt. Stir until well combined. Then, slowly stream in the warm water while stirring. Keep stirring until you’ve added all the water. You’ll get to a point where it is too hard to stir with a spoon. Put it down and use your hands to get in there and mix it well. Make sure to let your toddler help with this part! Once the dough starts to come together, keep kneading with your hands for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable.
How to Make It:Put down a large piece of parchment paper, and place a good-sized chunk of dough in the middle. Place another large piece of parchment on top. Roll out the dough until 1/8″ thick. You want to err on the side of a thinner dough. Too thick, and the ornaments tend to split or break easily. Remove the top sheet of parchment, and then using cookie cutters, cut into the dough—do not try to remove the cut out pieces! You want those to stay on the parchment. Take a drinking straw, and poke a hole in the top of each ornament for a ribbon to hang from.
Transfer the whole parchment paper and shapes onto a baking sheet. Bake the ornaments in a 300°F oven for about an hour. This isn’t an exact science, because inevitably, your shapes won’t be 100% even in thickness. They are done when they feel hard. They are really done if they start to brown (no worries, that’s something we can fix later!). Let the ornaments cool completely before letting kids begin decorating.
Let your toddler’s creativity run wild! Glitter, paint, washable markers, you can use just about any type of art material on salt dough ornaments. That’s what makes this such an easy and fun activity for tots. Just make sure to have them put their name and age (with some help from mom if needed), so every year you can look back and remember the moment together! You can have them leave fingerprints and handprints in the dough as well.
Why We Love It: Create little snowmen or a snow-family using, you guessed it, socks! Like salt dough ornaments, this is an excellent keepsake. If wrapped and stored well, your sock-men will survive the holiday decor packing and unpacking process year-after-year! You probably already have everything you’ll need to make this craft, so no need for a special shopping trip!
What You’ll Need: A white sock, a colored sock for the hat, cotton balls or rice for stuffing, rubber bands, buttons, ribbons/yarn/fabric, a glue gun, and markers.
How to Make It: Cut the sock just above the heel. Turn the sock inside out and tightly close the top of the sock using a rubber band. Then, turn the sock back right side out, and fill it with rice or cotton balls. Rice is great for sensory play and practicing scooping and pouring, but it can get messy with little ones, so cotton balls might be a better option for you. Next, form the body and head of the snowman by taking another rubber band and tying it around the middle, a bit closer to the top (since you want the top part to be a little smaller for his head). Now it’s time to decorate!
Snowmen are great for practicing core vocabulary with young children: eyes, ears, mouth, nose, arms. You can also talk about how to dress for cold weather! Brrr! Let your littles get creative choosing colors and sizes; a long ribbon for the scarf or big pink buttons. Be sure to watch tots closely while using buttons and small crafting pieces for decorating. This is an activity that needs to be done sitting side-by-side with young children.
Why We Love It:This is a fun one, and it is oh, so simple! There are a lot of DIY options out there for customizing cookie plates for santa, but if you want something easy, just go with a paper plate! You can make a new one again every season. It may even become a fun tradition for your family!
What You’ll Need:Paper plates, a bag of Nosh peanut butter puffs, and lots of fun art materials (markers, crayons, yarn, glitter). Grab a brown paper bag for a bonus craft if your toddler really enjoys making the plates!
How to Make It:Your child can make one big plate for Santa and his reindeer or two separate plates. There is no limit to the creativity and fun you can have! You can leave carrots for Santa’s reindeer, or you can see if your toddler is willing to share some peanut butter puffs! Reindeer love all kinds of crunchies! If your toddler enjoys making the plates, you can also make a “to-go” snack bag for Santa’s elves. Fill the bag with a few candies and maybe some peanut butter puffs too!
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