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Toddler craft ideas

By Ann Douglas

Toddlers love to try new things, especially when it involves paint and glue! Columnist Ann Douglas shares some fun activity ideas perfect for toddlers.

The question:

My three-year-old is just starting to show an interest in arts and crafts and I'm eager to encourage his creativity. Do you have any suggestions for activities that we could enjoy together?

Ann Douglas answers:

Here are some terrific toddler-friendly craft ideas:

  • Help your toddler drizzle some glue on a sheet of construction paper. He can then sprinkle sand, cornmeal or birdseed on top of the glue to make a picture.
  • Gather up textured objects like leaves and use them to make rubbings with crayons. (Place the leaf underneath the sheet of paper and rub the crayon on top of the sheet of paper. You should end up with an imprint of the shape of the leaf.)
  • Unroll a sheet of clear adhesive paper and place it sticky side up. Then give your toddler a variety of art materials to stick on the paper. Apply a second sheet of clear adhesive paper or a piece of construction paper and -- voila! -- you'll have some instant artwork.
  • Trace your toddler's hand and feet on a sheet of paper or let him make handprints and footprints with paint.
  • Let your toddler fingerpaint on a window or mirror or in the bottom of the bathroom sink. If he's not into getting his fingers dirty, he can use a paintbrush instead.
  • Attach bubble wrap to a paint roller. Your toddler will enjoy observing how the bubble wrap affects the design he's able to produce with the paint roller.
  • Give your toddler a bunch of fun alternatives to paintbrushes: sponges, feathers, old toothbrushes, combs, Q-tips, a potato masher, apple slices cut into shapes, and so on.
  • Pop the ball out of an empty roll-on deodorant bottle and fill the bottle with liquid tempera paint. Snap the ball back into place and -- voilà -- your child will have a fun roll-on art tool. Just make sure to keep the bottle away from the bathroom or you could end up starting your day with neon-green armpits!
  • Make pasta necklaces using large pasta. You can paint the pasta first using tempera paints or combine food coloring with a little water to dye the pasta instead. (Simply dip the pasta in the colored water for about 10 seconds and then allow it to dry overnight. Note: Be sure to wear plastic or rubber gloves as this may stain your fingers.)
  • Roll a cob of corn in a shallow dish containing a thin layer of paint and then roll it along a piece of paper.
  • Dip a plastic strawberry basket in a shallow dish containing a thin layer of paint and then press it on a sheet of paper. Hint: A Frisbee or a tin pie plate tends to work particularly well.
  • Place a blob of paint in the centre of a large sheet of paper. Drive a toy car through the puddle and watch how the wheels leave tracks on the page.
  • Place a piece of paper in the bottom of a square cookie tin. Dribble a bit of paint on the sheet of paper and add a ping-pong or golf ball. Put the lid on tightly and show your toddler how to shake the container vigorously. The ball will end up "painting" the page.

Ann Douglas is an award-winning writer and the authorof 28 books, including her new books ‘Sleep Solutionsfor Your Baby’, ‘Toddler and Preschooler and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler and Preschooler’. You can find book excerpts, articles, tip sheets and more by visiting Ann's website at


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