By: Rebecca Michelsen, M.Ed., MCHES, Manager of Community Outreach & Family Programs
Crafting with your kids is a great way to spend quality time together and introduce skills they will learn in kindergarten. It can also help you as a parent recognize if your child is hitting the developmental milestones.
One common milestone that comes up around 2 ½ to 3 years is starting to recognize and identify shapes, numbers, letters & colors. A fun way to work with your kids on these concepts is through art projects. These three crafts are not only enjoyable to create, but help your child work on early-kindergarten concepts.
Rainbow Fruitloop Bracelets
- Fruitloops (or other similar multi-colored cereal in an “O” shape)
- Pipe cleaners
Make a small loop at the end of the pipe cleaner so that as your child strings the cereal, each piece does not fall off. As he picks up the cereal and strings each piece, he is strengthening his pincer grasp which will later help him with tasks such as holding a pencil or zipping up his coat. Older children can practice early math skills by working on patterns. Once he has strung all his cereal, fold the other end of the pipe cleaner to form a clasp for the bracelet.
Make-your-Own Sponge Painting
- Paper plates (used as canvases for each color of paint)
Using cheap new sponges you already have in the house, ask your child to pick a few different shapes and cut them out. This works best if the sponge is wet. Clip a clothespin to the top of the sponge for easy dipping. The stamps work well when there is just a thin layer of paint on the sponge. Your child will increase fine motor skills by holding the clothespin attached to the sponge. Encourage him to create his own nature scene or robot using a variety of sponge shapes and paint colors. This activity is great for children with sensory issues as the clothespins allow little hands to stay dry from the wet sponge and paint.
Pom Pom Butterflies
- Construction paper
- Different colored pompoms
- Glue sticks
Help your child cut out the butterfly’s body, wings and antennae, pointing out different elements of each shape. Note how some shapes have round edges, some a bit more straight. Using a glue stick, glue a small circle onto each side of the wing and ask your child to glue the same color pom pom onto each circle. Older children can cut out additional shapes to form a design within the butterfly’s wings and work on patterns. This activity also helps increase fine motor skills.
In addition to the lessons learned above, children can also work on gross motor skills if they stand while doing these projects. Standing allows them to work on balance, engaging the muscles in their legs, feet and core.
What are your kids’ favorite art projects that help them reach developmental milestones?