I love doing creative activities in my spare time. Although most of my artistic moments are reserved for nap time, I have found a few crafts that my son can do alongside me. I’ve been collecting a list of activities for children ages 1-3 because this can be a hard age to entertain.
Ideally, a toddler craft idea will be a low (ish) mess and entertain them for a little while. Often, craft ideas and activities for kids skew toward the abilities of school-age children. These ideas are approved by my son, between the ages of 1 and 2 years old.
1. “Paint” Construction Paper
Time Filled: 20 – 30 minutes
Materials: Paintbrush or sponges, construction paper, water in a shallow dish
Whenever I want to paint, I set up my son beside me with his own paint station. I give him a big paintbrush and a piece of construction paper. Then, I fill a small dish with water. The water changes the color of the construction paper and he feels like he is painting with me. He really enjoys splattering the water on the pages to make a design.
The best part?
This one is a really low mess. It just gets wet because he splashes the water around. Also, it’s fairly cheap. You can dry and reuse the construction paper if you really want to avoid waste. He’ll spend about 30 minutes doing this craft while I paint my own projects.
2. Nature-Inspired Flat Lays
Time Filled: 30-45 minutes
Materials: Bucket or Bag, Sticks, stones, and other items from nature
My son loves it when we take pictures with my smartphone’s camera. I have a durable case that makes me comfortable letting him hold it with supervision. So, I decided to share my love of creating flat lay photography with him.
First, we collected items from the yard and nature trails that he found interesting. Then, we arranged them on a white background
We snapped a photo together. The fun in this is (obviously) more in the collecting of the items. I feel that it’s important to teach our children to look for beauty in everything. Also, I’m considering printing these as magnets or framed wall prints to give him a chance to enjoy his art over the long term. We may try to do something for each letter of the alphabet (Acorn, Berries, Cattails, etc.)
3. Glitter Pumpkin
Time Filled: 1 hour (includes drying time).
Materials: Plastic Craft Pumpkin, Glitter, Clear Modge Podge, Paper Plates, and a Paint Brush.
To start this project, I picked a sunny day where we could work outside. I laid down a towel and put a rock on the 2 paper plates to weigh them down. I actually stripped my toddler down to his diaper and explained what we were trying to accomplish.
I poured some modge podge onto one plate. Next, we worked together to dip the paintbrush in the modge podge. I showed him how to apply it to the surface of the plastic craft pumpkin. After a little while, he understood and covered the surface with glitter, including the stem. (CLICK HERE for step-by-step instructions)
Next, we placed the pumpkin on top of the second plate. We sprinkled the glitter on top until the modge podge was covered. Sometimes, I held the pumpkin and turned it so he could sprinkle more.
In the end, it took about 30 minutes to set. Surprisingly, the finished pumpkin held up well. My toddler liked to keep it in his room and take it down to look at it. We’re going to bring it out again for next year.
You can find similar objects for any season at the craft store like a bunny for spring, a garden gnome for summer, or a nutcracker for Christmas.
We actually started the fun at the craft store when I let my toddler select the glitter and pumpkin for the project. He really enjoyed pointing and choosing his favorite colors.
4. Customized Coffee Cannister
Time Filled: 30 minutes
Materials: Coffee Canister, white paint, markers or highlighters, paintbrush
I started this project the night before, painting the can white in secret. I wanted to ensure a smooth surface to create a good canvas for my son’s artwork. It took about 3 coats of paint to completely cover the surface.
The next day, the canister was dry and ready to decorate. We sat at my son’s desk with some bright highlighters. It took him a little while to figure out how to hold the can and draw on a curve.
Of course, he wanted me to join in (requesting that I draw triangles and “Mickey”).
I love that this project was very mess-free. Because I painted the canister ahead of time, this worked well as an indoor rainy-day craft. Also, it is a useful project, as we can use the container to store toys. We have accumulated several of these to separate his different types of building blocks.
5. Stick Puppets
Time Filled: 45 minutes (including playtime)
Materials: Coloring Books, Markers, Hot Glue, and popsicle sticks.
We started by coloring pages from his coloring book. After these accumulated for a couple of days, I cut out the characters that my toddler selected. We worked together to put dabs of glue on popsicle sticks and press the characters onto them. Then, he had some stick puppets to put on a show.
You could use another type of glue — if your toddler is OK with waiting. I did hot glue because it dries quickly. Also, your toddler could cut out the characters depending on their age and dexterity.
The Best Crafts for Toddlers
The best activities for children are ones where they can complete the project before they get bored. Also, I prefer projects with a few supplies that can be cleaned up easily.
If you enjoyed this post, please follow me on Pinterest. I pin projects that are easy to do… both for the young and young at heart.