Working in childcare and developing cold sweats at the idea of crafting with toddlers? As a nanny, there's actually a lot of fun – albeit it with lots of mess – to be had with toddlers and art projects! Here are some craft ideas for toddlers that will keep them engaged, having fun, and making a mess.
Painting is an obvious choice for a craft activity, and when done with a little help from an adult, can actually make a beautiful gift worthy of the wall of the family home! Place a piece of card with a dollop of 3 or 4 different paints into a ziplock bag – you can tape the top for good measure – and get your charge to push the paint around the bag using their hands, utensils or toys. Take another piece of card and cut a heart out of the middle, then place into a frame, placing the dried painting behind; and you've got the perfect Mother's or Father's Day gift. Use letter stamps to include a 'To... Love from...' message inside the frame.
Making a card is all part of the job as a governess, and a necessity when family birthdays start to creep up. Luckily all you need is a hand or foot, and some paint. A hand or footprint can be used to make a heart, a bunch of flowers, a fish, a dinosaur, an alien, or anything that you can think up; it’s a great opportunity for you to get creative with your charges. And who cares if it turns out looking nothing like what you intended it to...the thought is still there. You could also do some fingerprint painting; check out these great ideas on Pinterest here!
Time to get messy!
If you or the family have any paper bags lying around, you could cut vertically from the opening until ¾ of the way up, and ask the children to paint them and stick googly eyes on to make the jellyfish. You can find a detailed explanation of how to make your jellyfish here.
Print or draw some different shapes, the best are those that the children in your care are familiar with – such as fruit, vegetables or sports equipment – and provide them with cut up pieces of paper so that they can make a mosaic! You can find a video explanation of how to do this by following this link.
Use wooden blocks, cut up vegetables, sponges, or DIY your very own stamps to print paint onto paper and use as placemats at dinner time. You can find detailed instructions here.
Get messy painting any bubble wrap that might be lying around, the family home, and then print onto paper or card for an abstract art piece. Full instructions here!
As a nanny, it's your job to utilise all of the household rubbish that could be used for craft! Paint two toilet rolls and stick or tie them together with string, and you have a pair of toy binoculars that you can take into the garden for a nature watch. There are actually loads of things you can do to 'recycle' empty toilet rolls - have a look at this great video on youtube for some ideas.
Get creative with some homemade binoculars!
A staple in any home with children! Find a disused plastic lid, and get your charges to decorate it by sticking on lots of different colours and sizes of tissue paper. You can even make ornaments for the Christmas tree.
Ask the children to choose an animal each, and provide them with a picture. They can then paint paper plates, followed by adding limbs and faces to turn it into their favourite animal. Try and get some cotton wool or shiny paper and similar resources, and check out this link for some additional inspiration.
Another great paper plate craft to do with toddlers! Take them to collect small garden items (think leaves, twigs and flowers), then cut the middle out of a paper plate and replace with contact paper, which the children can then stick the garden items to, and hang in front of a window.
Write one letter of the alphabet each week onto an A4 piece of paper, the children can then decorate them with paper, paint, glitter, jewels, or even turn them into animals! You can then try asking them to name as many words as possible beginning with that letter – with a little help from you of course –, so that as well as getting crafty, you'll be helping them to get a head-start on phonics. Check out a wide selection of alphabet crafts here!
This is a great idea for a toddler who wants to put their name onto their door in big and colourful letters. Start by writing out the child's name, then let them decorate the letters with multi-coloured stickers.
This is incredibly straightforward, and makes it great for younger toddlers who can work on their motor skills whilst getting messy! Get some dried penne pasta and have them thread the pieces onto a string before painting to make their very own pasta necklace. Full instructions here!
A pasta necklace can make a great gift!
Get the children to lie on the floor on top of a large piece of paper, then trace them. Afterwards they can draw a face and clothes to make a self-portrait.
Great for kids who have an obsession with toy fire engines! Put some different coloured paints onto a plate for the children to drive their truck through, before driving across a piece of paper to make tire tracks. Click here for a demonstration!
When crafting with toddlers, the most important thing to remember is that you might need to make it big. If children are not yet able to contain their mess, then let them make a big one by investing in a huge reel of paper or old newspapers and heading into the garden. Using unconventional materials will keep their attention for a little longer, and by incorporating movement you'll make the most of the bounds of energy that little ones have! Go and have some fun!
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