It can be hard to find easy crafts for toddlers that require almost no preparation, keep their attention span, and are easy enough that you don’t have to step in too much. My hang-up with crafts is that I’m not too crafty and don’t like huge messes to clean up. Annnnd… I don’t want to do it if I have to do it for them. So here are some easy crafts for toddlers that we really enjoy! Sometimes, daily. The thing I noticed is that for it to stay fun, we have to put it away. Then it’s like new the next day 🙂
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Easy Crafts for Toddlers:
1. Markers and a coloring book
We tried crayons because they seem less messy, but my 2 year old just snaps crayons in half and doesn’t know how to push down hard enough to draw, so we use markers. Markers have an instant gratification effect even with poor dexterity! I still watch them and say “only on paper” a lot while she draws.
If I catch my toddler drawing on her hands after I say not to, (or on anything but paper), I put it away and tell her we can try again when she is ready to obey. It goes up and I’ll take it down the next day or even a few hours later when she’s forgotten about it.
Markers that won’t color on walls or hands:
If you want to let them color and don’t want to pay close attention about what they color on, try out either the Crayola Color Wonder paper and markers or the Melissa and Doug Color Blasts. Both use a pen with invisible ink that only shows up when you use the special paper.
Differences: Color Wonder paper allows kids to draw whatever they want with whatever color markers you get, while the Color Blasts by Melissa and Doug just have one pen that reveals whatever picture is already under the white paper.
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Here is why I love them. They don’t spill, and it doesn’t take much skill. The little sponge tip is awesome, it’s like stamping almost. We use blank printer paper or if I’m extra on my game Ill print out free downloads of special Do a Dot papers that allow my 2 and 3.5-year-old to concentrate and practice filling in the dots. They never spill, can be wiped off a table fairly easily. However, I still watch that they don’t try dotting up their legs and body because it stains their skin for about one day.
Side note, I let them take these outside and paint rocks, and they LOVE it.
When contained to the kitchen table, this is golden! I like it because they will play the longest with this. I forget that a little kid can put a lump of play dough on a plate and call it…well…anything! Their imaginations are really good.
If you don’t want to buy any tools then a cookie cutter does well. My rule though, “if you eat it you’re too little to play with it”. O man I sound like my mom now!
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6. Fruit Loops Necklace Threading
Classic. It’s a snack and dexterity exercise! Use stiff string with a knot on one end so the fruit loops don’t fall off. Or, a pipe cleaner if you have them. Or a thin new shoelace because it has that nice stiff tip. Cheerios work too, but fruit loops have bigger holes so they are way easier, and more colorful too.
7. Cutting paper
My idea of a break is allowing them to cut whatever they want without asking my help to do it for them. Sooo, if your toddler is too developmentally to cut out a square, but can still use scissors, then give them a blank piece of paper and learning scissors (which come with this book).
This book would also make a great preschool at home activity as there are tons of things to practice cutting! I do recommend being in the same room though if your toddler has scissors, just to make sure they are ONLY cutting paper, and not their bangs!
8. Baking Soda & Vinegar Outside
This could be “messy” I guess, but if it’s outside I don’t really care as it can be hosed off! There is no clean up and you don’t have to wipe your kids down! This can also just be done on a baking sheet inside.
We sprinkle spots of baking soda on the concrete outside. Then, I get a little cup of vinegar and a medicine syringe (from an old Tylenol bottle or you can buy them at any grocery store).
Little ones who can pull the syringe up and down can squirt the baking soda with vinegar and watch it bubble. Lots of baking soda spots = lots of quiet play. I can easily go through half a box. Add some food coloring to the vinegar for more fun! We hose it off or just wait for the rain when done.
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9. Spaghetti (uncooked) and marshmallows craft
One day I was cooking spaghetti and they were getting really rambunctious. So I put about 10 raw noodles on the floor, and a handful of mini marshmallows (bigger ones work better), and told them to poke each marshmallow.
WOW it was quiet for 10-15 min…thats like forever in toddler land! No they weren’t capable of building structures yet but they did manage to concentrate on putting one spaghetti noodle into each mini marshmallow, which passed some time and let them practice dexterity! Of course they ate the marshmallows later…
10. Use an old tissue box/cereal box for a mailbox
Before you run away thinking your not crafty, hear me out! Tissue boxes are zero prep, because of the hole in it. Cereal boxes just need a little slot cut on any side with scissors. That’s it.
Whenever we finish a tissue box I use it as a mailbox for the day before tossing. I set it down, cut up some “mail” and they can stuff “mail” into it or deliver it around the house.
Totally entertaining I guess! To make mail, I either cut a cereal box apart and let them “address” the mail with a pen, (they scribble, it’s cute)…or just have them find toys to put in it like “packages”. If you have stickers around they could also sticker up the “mail” before sending it.
My kids were 2.5 and 4 when we got this, but it is AWESOME! It has a chalkboard, whiteboard, and paper roll with paint buckets. For a non messy day, just leave out painting and let them draw and erase. Don’t forget to buy chalk, markers, dry erase markers and paint as they do not come with this set.
12. Trace around their hands
Grab a printer sheet, trace their little hand or foot, and let them color it in. It doesn’t take long, and you can even draw in fingernails for them to color if you want.
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