Craft Ideas for Young Children

Simple Toddler Crafts Using Cotton Balls

Snowman

Cotton balls can bring a snowman to life. Staple three small paper plates in a row to create a snowman shape. Paint non-toxic white glue onto the plates or simply squeeze it directly onto the plate from the tube. Press cotton balls onto the glue for the snowman fluff, then glue two googly eyes to the top section of the snowman. Encourage your toddler to cut out a hat shape from black construction paper and a triangle out of orange paper for the carrot nose. The pieces may be lopsided or jagged, but the point is for her to try, not the ending result. Glue those pieces on and two brown pipe cleaners for the arms and you’re all set.

Bunny

Hop into some fluffy fun with a bunny craft. Trace both of your child’s feet on some white construction paper and cut them out. Grab a regular sized paper plate and staple the feet cutouts on the top section to create the bunny’s floppy ears. Now your child can use white glue and cotton balls to add some fluff to her bunny. Glue pink yarn on in the shape of a bunny mouth. Glue three foam circles on for the eyes and nose.

Sheep

Reuse that empty toilet paper roll for your child’s next cotton ball craft. Squeeze some white glue onto a paper plate. Allow your kiddo to roll the toilet paper roll in the glue to coat the outside of the tube. She can then stick cotton balls on the gooey part. Cut out a piece of black construction paper for the sheep’s head and your child can draw a face on it with a white crayon. Poke four 2-inch black pipe cleaner sections into the toilet paper roll to create the sheep’s legs.

Painting

Your toddler doesn’t need paintbrushes to make a colorful masterpiece. Squirt a quarter-size drop of a few different colors of non-toxic acrylic or tempera paint onto a paper plate. Hand your toddler a handful of cotton balls and tell her to use them to paint on a piece of art or craft paper. Once she is done making her kaleidoscope of colors, let the paint dry and hang the artwork proudly on the fridge.

Hibernation Crafts for Preschoolers

Paper Bag Cave

A brown paper lunch bag can serve as a cave for your preschooler's hibernating creature.
A brown paper lunch bag can serve as a cave for your preschooler's hibernating creature.

Represent hibernation in a three-dimensional way with a basic brown paper lunch bag. Help your preschooler fold the bag flat and trim about three inches from the top edge. From the new top edge, cut a semi-circular "cave entrance." Fold about one inch of the top edge under and staple. Then, reaching your hand inside the cutout entrance, expand the bag open to form the cave. Place paper or real leaves inside the cave as a sleeping area, and add a small toy bear or paper craft bear who will "hibernate" there.

Tissue Paper Collage

Choose tissue paper in fall colors to make a hibernation collage.
Choose tissue paper in fall colors to make a hibernation collage.

Create a hibernation scene with the help of tissue paper in autumnal colors. Assist your preschooler in cutting 1-inch squares from brown, yellow, orange and red tissue paper. Arrange the pieces over the back surface of a plain white paper plate and glue into place. In the center of the plate, atop the "leaf pile," glue a cutout shape of a hibernating animal. If desired, paste additional foam leaf shapes over the tissue paper backdrop as a final touch.

Leaf Layering

Create a nest for your hibernating animal craft with gathered leaves.
Create a nest for your hibernating animal craft with gathered leaves.

Gather leaves in the park or your own backyard during the fall to create an animal hibernating in its own "nest." Have your preschooler choose a hibernating animal, such as a bear or hedgehog, and assist her in drawing a basic outline sketch of that animal on paper. Next, have your child fill in the animal shape with layers of leaves and glue. Help her arrange the leaves while gluing to maintain the distinct shape of the hibernating animal.

Cotton Ball Snow Scene

Cotton balls represent the snow of hibernation season.
Cotton balls represent the snow of hibernation season.

Depict a bear hibernating in a snowy cave with cotton balls, googly eyes and construction paper. Assist your child in cutting a brown semi-circle of the desired size to represent the bear. Center and paste the semi-circle along the bottom edge of a blue sheet of construction paper. Glue three semi-circular rows of cotton balls along its edge to cover the bear with "snow." Paste a pair of googly eyes onto the bear. Then, cut a crescent moon shape and bare tree silhouette from yellow and black paper for some final touches.

Elementary School Class Activities for Making Telescopes

Spyglass Telescope

Making a small handheld telescope can allow students to get used to viewing objects through one eye. This simple activity involves a paper towel or gift wrap roll, construction paper, clear tape and plastic wrap. Cut a small square of plastic wrap and tape it to one end of the tube to make a lens. Use tape to cover the whole roll with construction paper. To make it look like a traditional spyglass, cover the end near the lens with a small strip of yellow paper.

Upside Down Telescope

This telescope is called an upside down telescope because it uses two magnifying glasses to allow you to view objects that are far away. To complete the activity, students will need a pencil, scissors, a nontoxic school glue, two magnifying glasses that are the same size and a 24-inch piece of corrugated paper. Measure the size of a magnifying glass by wrapping the paper around and drawing a line to mark the diameter. Add 1 1/2 inches to allow space to close the tube, and then cut the paper lengthwise. Next, cut the width of the paper in half, making two 12-inch pieces. Wrap a piece of paper around each magnifying glass to make a tube and glue each tube securely. The second tube should be a bit wider than the first to make adjusting the telescope easier. Put the smaller tube inside the larger tube with the magnifying glasses on either end. Kids can decorate their telescopes with markers or felt pens.

Tubeless Telescope: Objective Lens

This activity is a way to help kids understand how a telescope works. Materials needed are a pair of “weak” reading glasses (like the glasses you can buy at a drug store), a magnifying glass, a flashlight, tape and a piece of wax paper. Students will need to work in pairs during this activity. Tape the reading glasses to a stationary object such as a pole or chair, ensuring that one lens sticks out. Set the flashlight on a table or chair at least 13 feet away from the glasses with the light directed at the lens.

Tubeless Telescope: Eyepiece

Once the objective lens is set up, hold the wax paper in the beam of light behind the glasses and walk backward until a small image of the flashlight is visible. One student should hold the paper in this spot while the other looks at the image of the flashlight through the magnifying glass and makes adjustments until there is a magnified image. Once the paper is removed, students will be able to see magnified images of objects close to the flashlight by slightly moving the magnifying glass.

Shape Collage Ideas for Preschoolers

Square Collage

A square window collage offers a learning opportunity while creating a colorful house decoration. Cut several 1-inch squares out of multi-colored tissue paper. Cut two pieces of contact paper so they’re each a 1- to 2-square-foot section. Peel the backing off one piece of contact paper and lay it sticky-side up on your child’s work surface. Explain to her that she should place the tissue squares on the contact paper. Once she has a layer of tissue paper covering the square, peel the backing off the other piece of contact paper and place it directly over the decorated square. You can tape this to the window when she’s done.

Circle Collage

Get the ball rolling with a circle collage. This circle project has a built-in treat in the end. Grab a paper plate and cut the inner circle out along the plate’s ridge where it starts to curve up at the edges. This should create an “O” shape. Let your kiddo squeeze some white glue on the paper plate or paint it on with a paintbrush. Offer a couple handfuls of colored O-shaped cereal and allow her to place the pieces on the glue. If there’s any cereal left over after the craft, she can eat them as a snack.

Rectangle Collage

Recycled art can pack an educational punch, too. Take an old magazine and create several rectangle shapes from the pages. Hand your kiddo a glue stick and a rectangle cut from a flattened cereal box. Ask her to glue the rectangles onto the cardboard to make a patchwork quilt. She can overlap the pieces if she likes or line the edges up as she goes.

Triangle Collage

Get those little fingers messy with a shape painting collage. You will need a piece of white construction paper cut into a triangle shape. Each of the sides should be at least a foot long. Cut a clean household sponge into triangle shapes. Squeeze a few colors of non-toxic acrylic or tempera paint onto a paper plate and allow your child to use the triangle sponges to paint the paper.

Collage Ideas for Toddlers

Texture collage

The educational experts at Scholastic note that toddlers enjoy exploring through the sense of touch. Play up this need for tactile discovery with a texture collage craft. Gather together an array of materials that are bumpy, lumpy, smooth, soft, fuzzy or furry. For example, cut apart a felt sheet, craft foam shapes, sleek metallic papers, ridged corrugated paper and fabric scraps for the texture collage. Give your toddler a piece of card stock to use as a base. Help your toddler attach the textured items to the paper using clear-drying school glue. After the glue dries, your toddler can run his hand across the surface to feel the different textures.

Animal collage

If your toddler is an animal enthusiast, help her to make a collage that features farm animals, pets, ocean creatures and more. Go through kid-friendly magazines with your toddler, having her pick out animals. Cut the animals out and line them up for your child to choose. She can glue her furry or feathered friends onto a piece of poster board to make an imaginative animal-themed collage.

Color collage

Help your little learner to get a grip on a few basic colors by making a hue-themed collage. Make a pile of different papers, fabrics or other materials -- such as felt and foam -- that are all the same color. Use subtle variations to add some depth to the project. For example, if your toddler is creating a green collage he can use hunter, kelly, lime and light greens. Pick a shade of construction paper that matches the collage's color scheme as a base. Use a glue stick or school glue to attach the materials to the construction paper. Add a splashy sparkle by sprinkling a matching color of glitter over the excess glue that seeps out from the edges of the collage items.

Recycled collage

Show your toddler how to reuse materials with a recycled collage craft. Reuse the side of an old box as a cardboard base for her project. For example, cut off the top flaps from an old appliance box or the front of an empty cereal box. Your toddler can create her collage by gluing fabric scraps, gift-wrap pieces, old Christmas ribbons or torn newspaper to the cardboard. Another option is to cut apart -- you should do this for your child -- recyclable items such as plastic soda bottles or cardboard milk cartons. Have your toddler paint these pieces to make them into colorful crafting items, and then glue them to reused cardboard to complete the craft.

Activities for Children Who Are Learning to Cut With Scissors

Starter Snips

Encourage your child to practice the basic movement of opening and closing the scissors around paper. Place a tray or baking sheet under his scissoring area and ask him to help you make confetti by cutting the paper into very tiny pieces. Provide different colored stock cards or the subscription cards found inside magazines, which are extra thick and easier to hold steady while cutting. Let him clip and snip away to make confetti by cutting wherever he can.

Purposeful Fringe

Scissoring the edge of the paper into fringe gives your child practice at purposeful cutting without requiring advanced scissoring skills such as cutting shapes from paper. Practice making short fringe with shallow cuts and deeper fringe with longer cuts. Try taping the back edge of the paper to the table so it's stable while she's cutting. Turn the fringe-filled paper into paper crowns or construction paper floral bouquets or use the fringe to decorate for an upcoming birthday party.

Soft and Floppy Cutting

Cutting soft, flexible items requires your child to stabilize what he's cutting while operating the scissors. Have him cut colorful yarn or ribbon into tiny pieces that he then spreads over glue-covered cardboard to make a furry monster. Provide him with scissors to cut simple circles or curved lines in play dough, clay or flattened cookie dough. The soft, forgiving consistency of dough or clay makes it easier to turn the scissors while cutting.

Making Wearable Crafts

Practice scissor skills while making crafts. Have your child paint a few soda straws and then cut them into small pieces that she strings on yarn to make a necklace. Show her how to shred tissue paper for gift baskets by folding the paper over, cutting the paper into strips and then cutting each strip in half. A more advanced scissor user can also cut out felt or cloth shapes for you to glue or sew on her clothing.

Make It: Easy Paper Sun Catchers

During the summer, the kids and I like to focus a lot of our art projects around nature. These simple tissue paper sun catchers are one of our favorite activities. The kids love cutting up and layering on the colorful tissue paper pieces for various effects, and the way the colors come to life on the window is almost magical.

To make your own paper sun catchers, you will need:

  • tissue paper in various colors
  • wax paper
  • white glue
  • scissors
  • a sponge applicator or paint brush
  • a pen

Start by taping the wax paper onto the table so it won’t move around while you’re working. Then use the pen to draw your shape onto the paper.

Next, take your tissue paper sheets and cut or tear them into small pieces. Using different shades of the same hue will create a nice stained glass look.

Once you have all of your pieces, separate them by color into different bowls. Then use your sponge applicator or paint brush to apply a thin coat of glue over your drawing.

Smooth the tissue paper over the glue, one piece at a time, to create a layered look. Continue gluing and applying paper until your drawing is completely covered.

When it comes to picking the subject of your art, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and go with whatever excites your child. A colorful semi-truck looks just as lovely on the window as a rainbow or butterfly.

Once your piece is completely covered in tissue paper and the glue is dry, cut it out and tape it on the window. The colors will literally light up as the sun shines through them.

Photo Credits: Stephanie Morgan

Church Easter Crafts for Children

Cross Crafts

To make a stained glass cross, glue torn pieces of colorful tissue paper between two sheets of wax paper, shaped into a cross. Another idea is to make a cross using two wooden craft sticks glued together. Your child can paint the sticks and cut out a heart to paste to the middle of the cross. To make a spring flower cross, cut out a cross shape from cardboard and have your child crumble up tissue paper in bright spring colors and glue the pieces to the cross.

Lamb Crafts

To represent Jesus as the Lamb of God, draw a lamb outline on a piece of construction paper and give your child cotton balls to fill in the shape. Have her color the face part black and add a googly eye. To make a paper plate lamb face, have your child cut out a circle from black construction paper that fits the inside of a paper plate; glue to the plate. Let your child add googly eyes, use white crayon to make a snout and glue cotton balls around the rim of the plate.

Tomb Crafts

Work with your child to recreate Jesus' tomb. To make a paper plate tomb, your child can draw a picture of Jesus on a plate and cover it with a second grey paper plate, with the middle cut out of it. Paint the circle that was cut out grey on both sides and use tape to attach it back to the middle. Your child can then "roll" the stone away to reveal Jesus. You can also help your child make a tomb out of salt dough, by combining flour, salt and water. Shape the dough into a mound, cutting out an entrance, and roll another piece of salt dough into a round ball for the stone. Have your child paint both grey and leave it overnight to dry and harden.

Easter Lily Crafts

Easter lilies are used commonly in churches on Easter to represent Jesus and his resurrection. For a hand print Easter lily, trace your child's hand on white card stock and cut it out. Curl the finger ends to create a flower look and wrap it around a green drinking straw, which is the stem, using tape to secure. Make a stamen out of a yellow pipe cleaner shaped into a "V," and stick the folded end inside of the green straw. To make an Easter lily entirely out of pipe cleaners, shape several white pipe cleaners into a lily shape and wrap around a green pipe cleaner stem. Make several and "plant" these Easter lilies in a pot with floral foam.