Guest Blogger: Jessica from Balsam Hill September 20, 2011 Blog Swap 2 Comments 1961 Best Beginner Crafts for the Holiday Season! Of course crafts are a great way to entertain young children. What mother doesn’t love a simple project to keep toddlers busy on a rainy day? But what if we considered arts and crafts as more than just fun and games? What if we viewed creative projects an integral part in early child development and used them as a fun tool for developing critical skills? This season, we have come up with a few first-time crafts that will directly stimulate your little ones’ growing understanding of themselves and the world around them. With a little guidance, these crafts will certainly blossom into a lot than refrigerator decorations. Develop Communication Skills with Shape Family Storyboards When a young child creates a picture, even if it looks like a simple scribble, he or she is learning to communicate visually. Through art, even a very young a child can communicate complex experiences or emotions through colors, shapes, and scribbles. Shape People Storyboards are a fun way to guide your tot through a communicative project, while still giving him or her a lot of creative wiggle room. Using multi-colored construction paper, cut out a variety of shapes that your child can identify, such as triangles, circles, rectangles, squares, hearts, stars, and moons. Ask your child to select a favorite shape and identify its color. Next, help glue the shape down to a piece of blank paper as the body of your child’s shape person. Ask your child to select a head, and then glue it down. Urge your child to add eyes, ears, nose, and mouth with markers, offering some silly suggestions. Once the first shape person is complete, start developing a story about it. Where does it live? Who is its mommy and daddy? Does it have any babies? What is its favorite cookie? Encourage your child to start building the rest of the Shape Family, try to keep the story going. Don’t be afraid to let the imagination run wild. Develop Problem-Solving Skills with Kooky Balance Mobiles When children are exploring craft projects, they often have to try things out, seeing what works and what doesn’t. Building a simple mobile employs more problem-solving skills for a child than we adults make realize, in addition, this craft introduces little ones to the possibilities of new and unusual materials. Find two sticks that can be adhered in a cross shape for the base of the mobile. You could use two Popsicle sticks, two sticks from a tree, a cut coat hanger, two wooden dowels, something you can find around the house. You should also gather some things to hang from the mobile. Try pipe cleaners, pom poms, light bells, paper cut out shapes, foam die cuts, paper clips, etc. Once you have the cross base made, present the objects to your toddler and ask them to pick out four things he or she likes best. Using yarn and scissors help your child hang one object from each point on the mobile base. Here is where the problem-solving skills come in. Together, you will need to figure out how to balance that mobile. Which side is too heavy? Which side needs more weight? You can hang more objects from the original objects until you have reached a state of balance. Be sure to hang the mobile somewhere for your tot to show it off. Develop Fine Motor Skills with Furry Fringe Bracelets Arts and crafts introduce children to fun tools like scissors, tape, glue, and hole punchers. Children always find these tools exciting because of their new possibilities, however it can take a little bit of time to develop the motor skills required to use them. Furry Fringe Bracelets are an excellent craft for practicing using scissors and tape. Cut a two 2-inch thick strips of colored paper, long enough to wrap around your toddler’s wrist as a bracelet. Draw parallel lines down both edges of the strips where your child will cut the fringe. Introduce your little one to a pair of child-safe scissors and help make a few practice snips on some newspaper. You’re your child is ready, show him or her how to cut along the fringe lines of the bracelet. When finished with both strips, lay them on top of each other and ruffle them up like fur. Wrap around your child’s wrist and secure with tape. Jessica Phan is a designer for Balsamhill.com a purveyor of high-end artificial Christmas Trees. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for her because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping. 2 Responses Sue September 20, 2011 Thanks for the informative article!! Always great to read something that stimulates my brain, lol. I have a pretty basic question. Is my 2 yr old granddaughter too young to be crafting with? I have her with my about 40% of the time and since I am always crafting something, she is very interested in helping Grandma. 🙂 In my craft room I made her a little cubby that holds her scissors, crayons, pencils, ruler, glue stick, etc., a board on the wall that holds her large paper so she can draw whenever she has the inspiration, and a chalkboard table and colored chalk for her to doodle on. Her parents are always telling me that she is too young for all of these things and I am wasting my time. She uses them daily and seems to love them. Am I just a doting Granny??? Thanks!! Reply Lovely Crafty Home September 20, 2011 In my opinion she’s a great age! I used to babysit my neighbor’s little girl all the time and started doing crafts with her around that age. They don’t turn out that well, but who cares? You’re a great Granny! 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