Activities for toddlers and babies
Throughout this theme, forget about craft models and encourage free exploration. The goal is to provide children with the opportunity to discover a variety of materials used for arts & crafts. Encourage little ones to explore colors and textures through different activities.
Discovering different types of paper
To introduce your theme to babies and toddlers, set a large container or bin filled with different types of colourful paper offering a variety of textures on the floor. Your bin can include cardboard, wrapping paper, tissue paper, corrugated cardboard, shiny paper, etc. Let children crumple, tear, and manipulate the paper. Variation: After a while, when children begin to lose interest in the activity, add plastic containers and show them how they can fill and empty them with paper. Give younger children their pacifier so they won't be tempted to put pieces of paper in their mouth. Variation 2: When children appear to lose interest in this second activity, place a large piece of adhesive paper on a table and invite children to press tiny pieces of paper all over it.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Placemats and crayons
Cut rectangular pieces of heavy construction paper to represent placemats. Set one in front of each child. Provide markers, waxed crayons, wooden coloring pencils, etc. Let children use the crayons they prefer to draw on their placemat. Laminate their work when they are done. Children will love to use their placemat at mealtime.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (hear)
Sounds during arts & crafts
Gather various elements used for arts & crafts that can be associated with different sounds.
- Have children stick feathers on a piece of adhesive paper as they listen to chirping birds.
- Let children manipulate a mixture of water and food coloring as they listen to waves or falling rain.
- Sing a color-themed song during a coloring activity.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch and smell)
Exploring textures with modeling dough
Add elements such as coarse salt or uncooked couscous to your modeling dough to create a different texture. Let children manipulate the modeling dough to feel this new texture between their fingers.
Scented modeling dough
Use natural essences to create scented modeling dough. You can, for example, add a few drops of lavender or vanilla to your dough or pick fruity scents (strawberry essence for pink modeling dough, lemon essence for yellow modeling dough, etc.).
ARTS & CRAFTS
Clear paper and windows
You can purchase rolls of clear colored paper. This paper looks a lot like cellophane paper, but it is thicker. Use a spray bottle to moisten a window or a mirror. Give children large pieces of this special paper (supervision required) and encourage them to stick them on the window or mirror. They will love to reposition them over and over again. When the sun shines through the window, it will really make the colors pop. Variation: You may also use laminated pictures for this activity. They will easily stick to the moistened surface. Variation 2: Use colourful adhesive tape to create frames or designs around the edges of the pieces of clear paper to make them safer for little hands.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
A gift for Mommy and Daddy
Creating a gift for parents without a model is challenging for little ones. Instead of presenting a model for them to reproduce, let babies and toddlers paint, glue, and draw as they wish, without restrictions. Photograph each child, hard at work. Accompany each child's craft with his/her picture. Add a short message describing the child's work. For example, you could write, "Olivia used a sponge to paint the paper." or "Nathan enjoyed gluing the feathers on his project."
Playing with big and small paintbrushes
This activity will give children the opportunity to observe how the marks created by big and small paintbrushes are different. Provide a very narrow brush and a very wide brush and encourage children to alternate between the two.
Variation: Use water on a black chalkboard instead of paint.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Stretch and draw
Hang large pieces of paper on a wall, at different levels. Be sure to arrange pieces of paper close to the floor so that children have to crouch down to draw on them. Also hang paper a little bit beyond their normal reach so they have to stretch to draw on it. Use washable crayons or markers for this activity.
Early childhood educator
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