Does your child love to create works of art?

Many toddlers and young children derive great satisfaction from creating imaginative collages or drawings. Completing art projects and proudly showing them off to their friends and especially to their parents boosts their confidence in their skills.

As a parent you may already beam with pride at the fantastic creations your child comes up with, but did you know that craft projects are also a powerful (and fun!) way that you can support your child’s early childhood development?

Here are just a few of the many benefits of arts and crafts time for your child:

  • Your child uses their creative problem solving skills to decide which combination or arrangement of colours and materials they want to use for each project.
  • Fine motor skills are enhanced as your child learn to wield utensils such as paint brushes, crayons, scissors, and glue sticks, all of which utilise control of the smaller muscles in the arm, wrist, hand, and fingers.
  • Even counting skills and colour recognition can be improved when your child counts the number of shapes to paint or recognises the colours of the sky and grass in their drawings.

Holidays can provide a convenient way to incorporate new craft projects into your child’s playtime, even if they don’t ordinarily consider themselves to be an artist. Luckily holidays occur all year round! Here are 5 holiday art projects that will help you to spread the joy of crafting throughout the year.

1. Australia Day – Paper Plate Koala or Wombat

What you’ll need:

  • Paper plates (large or small)
  • Brown/grey paint
  • Black and brown/grey paper or felt
  • Glue
  • Googly or sticker eyes

First, let your child decide whether they want to make a wombat or a koala (this will determine whether you need brown or grey materials). Once they have chosen their favourite of the two animals, let them paint their paper plate the appropriate colour.

After the plate has dried, they can cut the felt or paper into the shapes of ears, a nose, and a mouth for their animal and glue them onto the plate. As the finishing touch, let them select the type of eyes that they need for their animal; they can either use googly eyes, eye stickers, or even make their own out of plain white paper and a marker.

Creating animals out of larger paper plates will produce projects that can be displayed on the refrigerator, while animals made out of smaller plates could be glued to popsicle sticks and used as puppets!

This craft project could also be used to make an animal mask for your child to play in. Instead of gluing eyes onto the paper plate, carefully help your child to cut eye holes in the mask. Then punch holes in the sides, add a length of string to each end, and your child will have a mask perfect for playing pretend!

2. Easter – Egg Carton Chicks

What you’ll need:

  • An empty egg carton
  • Yellow paint
  • Orange pipe cleaners
  • Googly or sticker eyes
  • Orange and yellow felt or paper
  • Yellow feathers (optional)

Easter Sunday is filled with crafting opportunities for your children. If you want to branch out from your annual egg decorating activities, then this project could be a fun addition to your Easter crafting traditions!

Begin by carefully helping your child to cut the egg carton into individual egg cups (if your child is very young then they may not be able to safely do this themselves). Have your child turn each cup upside down and apply a coat of yellow paint.

Once the cups are dry, they are ready to be decorated! Create the chick’s feet by folding the orange pipe cleaner into small loops and gluing to the inside of the cup. Then your child can cut a beak from the orange felt or paper, and make wings using the yellow material.

Once the beak, wings, and eyes have all been glued on, your child gets to design the finishing touch: little feathers on top of the chick’s head! You could use pre-made yellow feathers, or cut out feather shapes from the felt or paper.

If your child loves this craft project, they could make a whole brood of chicks from just one egg carton! These little birds could make an adorable and festive addition to your holiday decorations.

3. ANZAC Day – Poppy Pins

What you’ll need:

  • Red felt
  • Hot glue (and/or sewing kit, for older children)
  • Black felt or black buttons
  • Safety pins

If your child would like to create their own wearable poppy pin for ANZAC day, they can complete this quick and simple craft to produce a pin that they can be proud of!

Your child will cut the red felt into three pieces; each piece should be the same shape, but in three different sizes. Younger children will likely find it easiest to simply use circles, but older children could get creative and cut the felt into clover or cloud shapes instead.

Layer the three pieces on top of each other with the largest on the bottom and the smallest on the top, offsetting the petals if your child has cut the felt into non-circular shapes. If you are using hot glue to affix the pieces together, be sure to supervise your child throughout and to advise them of the appropriate safety precautions to avoid any mishaps.

Then cut out a black centrepiece and glue this into the centre as well. However if your child wishes to sew their poppy pieces together, add a black button to the centre of the flower and sew all of the pieces together at once.

Once the flower is complete, simply glue a safety pin to the back of the flower. This craft is very simple but also quite attractive, so your child may even like to make additional poppy pins for you or other family members.

4. Queen’s Birthday – Paper Plate Crown

What you’ll need:

  • Paper plate
  • Craft supplies of your child’s choice!

The possibilities for this craft project are endless!

Help your child to cut three or four straight lines through the centre of the paper plate, remembering to stop short of the rim. The cuts will reveal six or eight triangular flaps within the centre of the plate – these will be the prongs of the crown.

If your child intends to wear their crown after it’s complete, then you can work together to determine how long each cut needs to be in order for the crown to sit comfortably on top of their head. This may take a few tries to get right, but will be excellent for their patience and their problem solving skills!

The beauty of this art project is that your child can decorate their crown in whatever way they choose. If they love to paint, then they could use watercolours to create swirling designs or acrylic paints to add specific shapes and colours. They could cut pieces of coloured paper or felt into jewels to add to the crown, or use puffballs, sequins, or stickers to create a similar effect.

You could use a coloured paper plate to remove a step from the project, or could help your child paint their plate in whatever colour(s) they choose.

Once the plates is decorated, and any paint or glue used in the project has dried, fold up the triangular flaps so that they sit upright and let your child wear their crown proudly! You could also use it as a table decoration anywhere in your house.

5. Christmas – Holiday Lights Greeting Cards

What you’ll need:

  • Blank greeting cards or white cardstock
  • Black marker
  • Coloured paints or stamp pads

Does your family send out Christmas cards every year? If so, rather than sending out something store-bought, you could inspire your children to create handmade cards to send to your friends and family!

Begin by drawing a “light cord” across the cardstock or cover of the blank greeting card; your child can do this themselves, or you could do this for them if they are particularly young. Then your child can dip their fingers in the paint or stamp pad and press their fingers onto the card along the “light cord” to create the shapes of the Christmas lights! They can use as many or as few colours as they wish – just be sure to dedicate one finger to each colour to keep the lights clear and distinct!

If you only send out a handful of cards each year, then your child could hand make each one. If, however, you send out dozens of cards, then you could easily scan and print as many as you need! In this case, using stamp pads will likely transfer better than standard acrylic paints.

You could also use this method on a larger piece of cardstock to create an annual holiday decoration for your home. Simply ask your child to sign their artwork and place it inside an appropriately-sized frame for safekeeping!

Arts and crafts can be a memorable part of each holiday season, and can create keepsakes that you and your children will treasure throughout the years to come. More importantly, completing these projects together will create memories that will last a lifetime. Happy crafting!