Crafting For and With an 18-month old

Cardboard and acrylics are all you need

Cardboard and acrylics are all you need

Toddlers are awesome. They become even more awesome after the 18-month leap, when their brain-poof!- suddenly expands and they can perform all sorts of new party tricks. I would love to think that I have a special little snowflake, but apparently around that time most toddlers start to be more interested in crafting.

Crafting with a toddler can be great fun but it is messy and it’s a bit hard to come up with ideas what to do with them, since their fine motor skills are not exactly perfect yet.

Especially during winter, that you can’t let them draw on the sidewalk, cause the weather sucks most of the time, finding indoor crafting activities can be of great help. Of course every toddler is different and you will have to do a bit of trial and error to see what attracts your toddler’s attention.

Our sketch book

Loulou Maya has a sketchbook that she shares with me. She usually asks me to draw stuff for her there, but lately is more and more interested in contributing her own artwork. If you flip through it, it looks like a pile of smudges and doodles, but if you look closer you will see the different patterns, textures, colors and styles that emerge. Work of art? Surely not, but it’s a start. She also loves to flip through it from time to time and point at all the different things in there with excitement. Here is a sample of what you can find in our sketch book:

Collage with pictures cut out from the free grocery store magazines

Collage with pictures cut out from the free grocery store magazines

mama drawings with a layer of stickers and Loulou doodling with pens and markers

mama drawings with a layer of stickers and Loulou doodling with pens and markers

finger paint

finger paint

finger paint

finger paint

tons and tons of finger paint

tons and tons of finger paint

markers and pens

markers and pens

Collaborating

Loulou and I go to a playgroup with a guide-teacher twice a week for kids up to 2,5 years old. There the kids and parents often do crafts together. They are messy and ugly but oh so beautiful in their own way. There are the moms who let the kids do whatever they want with the material, which usually ends up eaten. And there are moms who are over-enthusiastic and do the craft on their own while their kid plays in a corner far-far away. I lie somewhere in the middle. I will guide Loulou but also let her create her own mess (unless she is really not into it, in which case I do the craft on my own and enjoy it, cause why not? I woke up and got dressed to take her there. I deserve the fun!).

In those crafts there are usually some ready-made parts that require the kids to color-in, assemble or stick things together. This mushroom is a good example.

Loulou loves this and she will proudly point at it whenever we see a mushroom in a book or eat mushrooms

Loulou loves this and she will proudly point at it whenever we see a mushroom in a book or eat mushrooms

I have tried several similar activities, during which I provide Loulou with materials that need to be stuck together. Having at hand scissors, colored paper, cotton balls, markers, glue, stamps and even glitter (if you are feeling really brave) is a good idea.

To make this crocodile, I drew the outline and helped Loulou make the stars using a paper punch. We both glued them together on the crocodile. She got to choose the paper color as well.

To make this crocodile, I drew the outline and helped Loulou make the stars using a paper punch. We both glued them together on the crocodile. She got to choose the paper color as well.

To make this bird I drew the outline with crayons and then helped Loulou stick cotton balls on the bird. She then painted it using finger paint dissolved in water. It's the saddest bird I have ever seen but we still like it around here.

To make this bird I drew the outline with crayons and then helped Loulou stick cotton balls on the bird. She then painted it using finger paint dissolved in water. It’s the saddest bird I have ever seen but we still like it around here.

Crafting For Your Toddler

Of course there are like a million crafts out there for toddlers. A simple search on pinterest will give you hundreds of ideas. The problem is this can get a bit overwhelming and we end up doing nothing. That’s why I feel it’s a better idea to search for inspiration having one material or theme in mind, instead of doing general searches for “toddler crafting”. In this post I want to share with you three things I made for Loulou that didn’t take that much time and were quite a success.

Giant pom poms

Giant pom poms

She is in love with pom poms, what can I say?

She is in love with pom poms, what can I say?

Loulou is really into pom poms. I got her a bunch from a shop and she is using them for different purposes. Chewing, for sure. But also pretend-cooking or she will stuff them in different places. She enjoys their colors and texture and the fact that they are so light. So when I came across Apomogy, I was inspired to make her some really big ones. There is always leftover yarn in this house, so I got started and by following the instructions of this blog, I was done in no time. She really enjoyed throwing them around and dancing while holding them.

Maria, the triceratops

Maria, the triceratops

Maria the triceratops

Maria the triceratops

Meet Maria, the triceratops. I got inspired to make this one by this post of La maison de Loulou (also, how awesome is it that this amazing blog has the same name as my daughter? Am I the only one excited? Yes? FINE). I chose to make a dinosaur and paint it blue ’cause my toddler is really good at making animal sounds, especially roaring, and she just learned how to say the word “blue” in Greek and it’s hilarious and adorable at the same time. So just by showing her this cardboard beast I get to hear two fun things at once! I made Maria using an old shipping box and acrylic paint. I cut the cardboard with an x-acto cutter. It was easy, fast and fun.

The last craft I want to share with you was quite time-consuming for me to make, as I don’t have a sewing machine, but I am sure it can be finished within an hour if you have one or use a hot glue gun instead. Basically what I did was pieces of felt and put them together to create different landscapes. So there’s a lake/sea in the middle, a green meadow, a dessert, a polar area and an in-between Savannah kind of thing. I got the animals from a second-hand website and I suspect they were one of those gifts that grocery stores give if you shop more than 10 euros or something. Still, they are adorable. The little metal box was a gift from my mom to Loulou and you can find them in many stores. If you decide to make something similar, my advice is to try and give it some volume, like I did with the little hill on the polar scene, the tipi tent, the brown cave, the flower and the leaf (you can see them all in the pictures). I followed no pattern and did everything intuitively, improvising as I went. It was very relaxing. I really think you will enjoy making one of those!

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

Folding ecosystem to go

I would love to read what kinds of crafts you do with and for your toddlers! Please share your ideas in the comments or on the facebook page.

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