Projects for Toddlers: Get Crafty!

Those creative kits they sell at stores are great, but there are plenty of ways to use stuff you already have at home for craft-time fun. We’ve got ideas!

Tasty paint. Little kids love to put stuff in their mouths. And in this case, that’s OK! Rip off a piece of wax paper and have your child "draw" with pudding or blueberry-flavored yogurt.

Hands on. "I love to make handprint animals with my kids because it's such a versatile craft and the supply list is minimal—all you need is finger paint and imagination!" says Cheryl Pitt, a mom of three in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. "We’ve made hands into flower blossoms, butterflies, bats, angel wings, even beautiful fall leaves. My son's favorite was a spider made out of two black handprints."

DIY music. Fill water bottles with rice or beans to make a maraca. Bang on a used oatmeal container as a drum. Sing silly songs as you rock out. Soon, record execs may be knocking on your door.

A good mix. "This collage is an easy craft that keeps my little girl occupied for quite some time," says Marti Wills, a mom of three in Leesburg, Virginia, and author of Through the Craft Room Door. "First, draw a large shape on a piece of sturdy paper divided into three sections. Give your child an assortment of oversize buttons, large beads and pieces of ribbon in three different colors. (Make sure these items are large so they don’t pose a choking hazard.) Have them glue all the items of color A in one section, color B in the next section, and color C in the last section. As kids get older, you can add more colors."

Cotton ball critters. Cut an animal shape (like a butterfly) out of a piece of cardboard from a cereal or diaper box. Help your child glue cotton balls all over it until it is completely covered.

Something fishy. "I made paper plate fish with my daughter and one of her friends as part of a week of ocean-themed activities. This was definitely the biggest hit of the week!" says Catherine Moss, a mom of one in Denver, Colorado. "You'll need two paper plates, finger paint or crayons and glue. Cut a small triangle out of your first paper plate— the fish's head. Cut the second paper plate into a larger triangle—the tail. Glue the tail to the head. Then let your child paint or color to their heart's content. Draw an eye and you're done!"

Feel-good fun. "I take a big plastic dishpan and add items for kids to explore with their hands," says Cara Jougalard, a mom of two in New Orleans, Louisiana. "We do themes. At Halloween I dyed rice orange, used dried black beans, spider rings, and some plastic pumpkins I found at the dollar store. You can do a non-holiday theme such as a beach with sand, seashells, and even a little shovel. The sky is really the limit."