This one’s for the moms of littles who don’t necessarily consider themselves a “crafty” or “Pinteresty” mom! Because boy oh boy, is it the season of seeing what every other mom is doing on social media is and wondering, “How do they have time to build that doll house by hand AND make bakery level Christmas cookies from scratch AND curate a stocking of all natural, organic everything…?!” I’m exaggerating to be funny because here’s the thing, some days I feel like that supermom I’m describing. Some days we find extra moments to create picturesque projects together and giggle over DIY learning activities… Some days not so much! Friendly reminder: if you have extra time to invest in creating elaborate activities for your littles or find personal enjoyment in adding a Pinterest worthy flare to everything you can – Way to go! The ability to make ordinary things magical is such a strength that can bring so much joy to the loved ones who benefit from your creativity! Even more important reminder: It does not need to be complicated and elaborate to be meaningful and even educational!
Thanks to all our rainy weather this time of year, we’ve been needing to get extra creative so we don’t go stir crazy and every day I’m more aware of my sons capacity to learn (and hunger for it!) So I’ve felt an extra responsibility to lead him in that. It’s a big job though, and I’m just learning as I go! So let’s learn together 🙂 Mamas, you are the most important teacher your little will ever have! Don’t be intimidated by it. God knew you were the woman for the job before you even knew that baby existed! Effort is better than no effort, engaging is everything, and a little goes a long ways!
Here’s a few inexpensive & EASY toddler activities that we have been loving in our home lately!
First things first – Mom hack: invest in a roll of craft paper. We use this stuff CONSTANTLY around here! You can buy different sizes for just a few dollars in the paint section of any hardware store!
Let’s start super simple with Trimming the paper tree!
Every week our five year old friend comes over for a few hours and here’s a super simple themed craft I came up with last minute to give her a creative outlet. All you need for this one is paper, a marker, and literally anything you find lying around the house that could be a “tree decoration” (example: the liberal use of garage sale price stickers seen above 😉 ).
Simply draw the outline, provide materials that invite them to think creatively, and let them make it what they want. I like how little guidance is needed for this one (for my sake and theirs!) And how little materials and prep is needed for the project. You could take this a million directions, even after the holidays are over. Provide the invitation & let them free!
Up next: Build your own snowman!
This one requires a little more prep. If you’ve got a little bit older kids, you can use this as an opportunity to let them practice drawing their own shapes and cutting them out! I prepared this craft for a combination of ages so I prepped some shapes ahead of time and provided a few additional materials that could be used however they chose. Regardless of age though, I try to incorporate decision making as much as possible because it’s good to let our littles exercise creativity and control in constructive ways. I’ll split the instructions by age so you can apply what you want…
5ish – For the older child (left picture), I let her choose what color she’d like for the background and body. I outlined the circles for her and then she cut half. She also did all the gluing herself which is always a hit! From there, she had complete creative freedom to choose from the options and place them where she wanted. Very simple and similar to the tree trimming craft!
2ish – This took more time on my part as I put together the backdrop/body ahead of time and even glued on some “hair for fun. The littler the child, the more prep and guidance is usually required, but don’t let that stop you! It can still be such a valuable activity for them, even if it’s less independent. First, I showed him the example of an older child’s so that he understood that we were making a snowman. I recommend even using a drawing or picture online when you’re starting crafts with young toddlers so they have a concept of what they’re creating! To incorporate choice, I would show two of each item (ex: 2 eye options, 2 nose options, 2 hat options..) and let him select which he wanted to use before moving onto the next thing. Then, we would talk about where that item belongs on his body. I would handle the glue and then let him help guide the piece onto the picture.
Our very favorite activity isn’t specifically holiday themed, but it’s PERFECT for the cold weather days that keep us trapped inside:
An indoor water table alternative!
The best thing about this is that anything can be used. We’ve all learned Tupperware is as good as any toy anyways! 😉 Provide a couple containers of water and some tools that can be used for transferring water from one to another. Because you can only bathe so many times in a day! ha. You will be SHOCKED at how long this will keep them occupied and interested. And bonus: it’s a great way for them to work on their table utensil skills!
Here’s another inside alternative for you: Have an indoor picnic by the tree!
Enjoy a milk and cookies snack or surprise them with a festive lunch time. It’s funny how something so small can seem so special to kids and turn into a precious memory for us! Ours for instance, will go down as one of my favorite holiday memories this year (and my favorite pictures maybe ever!)
Next on our list to try: incorporating paint and noodles like this fun idea from Artbarblog!
Check out their blog for a HUGE variety of crafts for different ages! And while we’re on the topic…
Here’s a few of my favorite resources for ideas and tools to help you create learning opportunities and creative outlets for your littles!
Busy Toddler! Follow on social media for daily ideas and keep up with the blog for even more. My favorite thing about Susie is the way so many of her ideas incorporate everyday things you’d find around your house! It makes any mom feel like they can accomplish he same fun level of learning in their home!
Engaging Littles! Kelly is such a creative mom who’s craft ideas always promote learning. You can follow her instagram here and get a more in-depth look at her ideas on her blog at engaginglittles.com!
Gift ideas that promote development!
This Crayola art caddy is a fun starter kit for getting artsy with your littles! And it comes with a variety of items to grow into.
Invest in a good pack of colored construction paperand you really don’t need much else!
If you really want to spice up your craft supplies, this bundle of fun odds and ends is perfect for encouraging open ended creativity in countless crafts!
Want a little extra help coming up with ideas? Or maybe even feel more comfortable if the crafts are created for you? I recently discovered a company that prepares prepackaged mini crafts complete with the instructions and all pieces necessary! Krafty Kids! You can oder a box based on the age of your child, sign up for a subscription so that your crafts are replenished monthly, OR send one as a gift for a kiddo in your life this Christmas!
We have been loving our holiday themed box and the BEST part is how handy each craft is to pull out when you need a few moments of focus from your little or to throw in your bag and take along as an activity to keep them busy while you are!
I’m always sharing new finds and ideas that make my life easier as a mom and more full for my little, in my instagram stories! I even have a few highlight bubbles dedicated to stuff like this so you can access them any time you want! You can find me here to follow along with those ideas. 🙂 I so hope they encourage you in your mamahood!
Don’t let comparison hold you back from creating opportunities for your littles to express themselves and learn in fun ways. The good news is, they’re not harsh critics if you aren’t crafty! They just know fun when they see it! 😉 So let’s get creative!
Pin these ideas for later and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram if you try one of these or have a fun one to share! (@laurennoelcarter) I can’t wait to see what you get up to! Cheers!