crafts for toddlers

Once your baby enters toddlerhood, you may start to notice more talking, walking, exploring, and simply wanting to do more. Arts and crafts are some of the best ways to encourage your little one’s early brain development, especially for toddlers doing crafts at home with their families. We’ve rounded up 21 of our favorite crafts for toddlers that help your curious tot explore their little world.

Safety and Crafts for Toddlers

Before starting any arts and crafts projects with your child, brush up on some general safety rules for toddlers. You’ll find a few helpful tips below.

  • Use safety scissors. Toddlers are still developing their fine motor skills, so accidents are bound to happen. It’s best to use safety scissors, which have a round, blunt edge, and keep a watchful eye on your little one.

  • Choose water-based paints. For crafts, you’ll most likely use tempera, acrylic, or watercolor paints. The water-based versions of these paints tend to be safer than oil-based ones because they don’t include chemical solvents that can be fatal when ingested. It’s always a good idea to read the labels, as even some “safe” water-based paints can include chemicals like formaldehyde.

  • Avoid crayons with talc. A study revealed that four brands of crayons contained asbestos fibers connected to the presence of talc. Although the risks are low, check the label and stick to colors that are talc-free.

  • Look for statements and approvals. When buying arts and crafts supplies for toddlers, look on the packaging for a statement that the product conforms to the American Society for Testing and Materials and is approved by the Art and Creative Materials Institute. A general rule of thumb is to avoid anything with warning labels, such as “Not Safe For Kids.”

  • Establish rules. Let your children know that craft time comes with some specific rules. Having consistent structure is important to your toddler’s development, and rules help them learn the differences between safe and unsafe behaviors. Incorporate rules like

    • glue isn’t for eating

    • only use the scissors with grownups helping

    • don’t lick paintbrushes

    • wash your hands before and after

    • help clean up messes.

  • Keep an eye on your toddler. Even when you’re taking precautions and setting rules, you’ll still need to keep an eye on your little one to make sure they’re not doing or tasting something they shouldn’t!

  • Set up a designated area for arts and crafts. If you have the space, designate a specific area of your home for your toddler to enjoy arts and crafts. It can be their official creative space and your children will start to associate it with the rules you set. They can even build a fun craft fort! Check out the video below about fort-building fun for toddlers:

Paper Crafts for Toddlers

paper crafts for toddlers

Paper crafts for toddlers have several perks. You most likely have all the necessary supplies lying around your house, cleanup is a breeze, and all that cutting helps your toddler develop important fine motor skills as they learn how to control their hands and fingers.

All crafts for toddlers, including paper crafts, can also help build attention skills, strengthen coordination, encourage creativity, and boost self-esteem. If your little one gets frustrated in the process, encourage them to keep trying. But even with easy paper crafts for toddlers, you’ll most likely need to help your child along as they learn and practice cutting with safety scissors for the first time.

1. Fall Leaves

Ideas for paper plate crafts for toddlers are nearly endless. You can do so much with just a few paper plates, some glue, and construction paper. Among easy go-to fall crafts for toddlers, leaf rubbing is a good one to try, or you and your child could create fall leaves with the activity below. These can be easy crafts for younger toddlers around 2 or 3 years of age.

Supplies

  • Pack of paper plates

  • Brown construction paper

  • Tissue paper in fall colors (yellow, orange, red)

  • Safety scissors

  • Glue stick

Directions

  1. Collect some leaves (optional). If you can, go outside with your toddler and collect some real fall leaves before starting the craft. Look at the leaves together, noting the different parts, such as the stem and the veins, and how the colors change.

  2. Cut the paper. Help your toddler cut the paper plates into leaf shapes, the colored tissue paper into small squares, and the brown construction paper into strips of brown for the stem and veins.

    1. Younger toddlers might not be able to cut on their own, so you may want to pre-cut the paper plates and construction paper. The tissue paper is much easier to cut, so let your child take the lead or tear the paper into smaller pieces.

  3. Paste the tissue paper. Let your little one glue the pieces of tissue paper onto the paper-plate leaves, mixing the colors so they look like a real fall leaf changing with the season!

  4. Paste the veins. Using thinner strips of brown construction paper, your toddler can glue the leaf veins over the colorful tissue paper. As your toddler does this, the two of you can talk about what a real leaf looks like! You’ll need one longer piece for the middle and a few shorter pieces springing out to the sides to mimic the real deal.

  5. Paste the stem. Lastly, have your toddler paste the stem at the bottom of the leaf, placing one end of the brown strip behind the leaf. This way, the bottom of the stem pokes out from behind and underneath rather than covering up the beautiful colors!

2. Birds in a Nest

If you’re looking for easy construction paper crafts for toddlers, these birds in a nest won’t disappoint! Not only does this craft fine-tune motor skills and hand-eye coordination, but it also lets your little artist get creative with how they depict the natural world. Plus, we all know that for toddlers, there’s nothing more appealing than animal and bird crafts!

Supplies

  • Paper plate cut in half

  • Light blue construction paper

  • Light blue tissue paper

  • Yellow construction paper

  • Googly eyes

  • Brown construction or crinkle paper

  • Safety scissors

  • Glue stick

  • Bottle of glue

Directions

  1. Cut the construction paper. To prepare for the craft, pre-cut or help your toddler cut the blue construction paper into three large bird shapes that fit across the half-cut paper plate. These are the birds’ bodies. Then cut three small triangles from the yellow construction paper for the birds’ beaks.

  2. Tear the blue tissue paper. Let your little one have fun here! They can tear the blue tissue paper into small pieces as the birds’ feathers. Tear two slightly larger pieces for each bird to act as the wings.

  3. Paste the birds. Place the three bird bodies in a row across the paper plate and help your toddler secure them with glue.

  4. Paste the feathers and wings. Put glue on the birds and allow your little one to stick the small pieces of tissue paper onto the birds’ bodies.

    1. Have your toddler place one piece at a time, securing it by pressing down on the tissue paper.

    2. Leave the sides of the tissue paper sticking up a bit so they create the look of fluffy baby bird feathers!

    3. Glue the two slightly larger pieces onto the side of each body for the wings.

  5. Paste the beaks and eyes. Mom and dad might need to help with this one! Glue the beaks and eyes into place on the birds’ heads.

  6. Paste the nest. With the bottle of glue, have your toddler squeeze a few lines across the paper plate. Then put small handfuls of the crinkle paper or brown construction paper (torn or cut into strips) on top and press down. Repeat until the entire “nest” is built. Some of the paper may fall, and that’s okay! As with the feathers, you want some of the crinkle paper to stick out, so it looks more like a real nest.

3. Paper Chain Snake

To help prepare your toddler for preschool and even kindergarten, learning how to use safety scissors and eventually cutting in a straight line will be useful. Creating paper chains develops those skills while introducing children to the idea of shapes and patterns. Have fun with the craft by creating a slithering snake for your toddler to carry around! This is an excellent example of a craft for older toddlers about 3 or 4 years of age.

Supplies

  • Two colors of construction paper

  • Small pieces of white, black, and red construction paper

  • Glue stick or stapler

Directions

  1. Cut the colored construction paper into strips. Pre-cut or help your toddler prepare for the craft by cutting the two colors of construction paper into equally sized (or as equal as possible for a toddler!) strips.

    1. You can help by drawing straight lines across the paper and your little Picasso can practice cutting in a line. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect; that’s part of learning arts and crafts!

    2. The more strips you cut, the longer the snake. You and your toddler can choose how many pieces to cut, but each color should have the same amount.

  2. Cut the other body parts of the snake.

    1. You need two more pieces from the colored paper, one teardrop piece for the tail and one larger heart-shaped piece for the head. Either color will do!

    2. Ask your toddler to make the eyes by cutting two white circles and two smaller black circles.

    3. Then, your little artist can cut one strip of red for the snake’s tongue.

  3. Assemble the chain. Show your toddler how to make a circle out of one strip of colored paper, securing it with glue or a stapler. (Mom or Dad should be the one to do the stapling here!) Then show how you create a paper chain, alternating colors and putting the strips together by guiding one end through the other circle before gluing or stapling. Once you’ve demonstrated a couple of times, let your child try on their own, helping when needed.

  4. Paste the tail, eyes, and tongue. When finished with the chain, put it aside. Your toddler can paste the heart-shaped piece of colored construction paper and eyes on the top of the heart-shaped head. The white circles should go first and the smaller black circles on top. Then, your little one can paste the red strip under the narrow end of the head, so the tongue is poking out!

  5. Put it all together! Ask your toddler which end of the chain will be the head and which end is the tail and let them paste it all together. Now your toddler has a cute snake from a fun and easy craft.

4. Bunny Mask

Paper plate crafts for toddlers are a good choice for playtime, as arts and crafts are a key way to foster creative play and learning.

A fun craft to try is this animal mask. You can choose any animal, but we chose a rabbit for ours because we know toddlers love bunny crafts!

Supplies

  • Paper plate with the middle cut out

  • Ice pop stick

  • Black construction paper

  • White construction paper

  • Pink markers, crayons, or pencils

  • Glue stick

Directions

  1. Cut the construction paper.

    1. Let your toddler cut two long and thin ovals from white construction paper for the rabbit’s ears.

    2. Then they can cut six long and thin strips of black construction paper. This is an opportunity for your child to practice cutting in a straight line, and there’s no need to worry if it’s not perfect.

  2. Color the ears. Ask your toddler to color the inside portion of the ears pink to look like the inside of a bunny’s ears! You can draw the area to be colored with a pencil first if you want and help your child stay in the lines as much as possible (another good skill to eventually develop). Otherwise, just let your little Rembrandt have fun!

  3. Paste the ears and whiskers. Take the paper plate with the middle circle cut out and let your toddler glue the two ears behind the plate on one side. This will be the top of the bunny’s head as the ears stick up high. Next, on each side, your child can glue three pieces of the long black construction paper across the sides of the paper plate, letting the bulk of the strips hang off the plate.

  4. Curl the whiskers. Curl the end of the whiskers on the sides of the bunny’s face. This can be fun for your toddler! Ask them to use a colored marker, pencil, or crayon and curl the paper tight around it. Then they can take out the coloring device and note how the paper stays curled like a bunny whisker!

  5. Paste the ice pop stick. At the opposite end of the ears, glue the ice pop stick behind the paper plate with enough of it poking out for your little one to hold.

  6. Have fun being a bunny! Now that your little one is finished making the bunny (or lion or any other animal for your toddler’s craft), it’s time to play!

5. Paper Weaving

Although simple, paper weaving doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of easy crafts for toddlers. It requires a lot of coordination from tiny fingers, which might feel frustrating at first. But manipulation projects like weaving build motor skills and hand-eye coordination, so it’s a helpful craft for older toddlers around 3 or 4 years of age.

Supplies

  • Two colors of construction paper

  • Cutting tool with a sharp precision blade

  • Ruler

  • Safety scissors

  • Glue stick

Directions

  1. Prepare the base. You’ll need to help prepare the supplies for this one. Choose one color of paper for the base (it doesn’t matter which one unless your toddler has a preference).

    1. Place the paper on a hard surface safe for cutting.

    2. Using the cutting tool and ruler, cut a straight line about one inch from the sides of the paper lengthwise, keeping it intact at the ends with a one-inch border.

    3. Measure two inches in and cut another long slit, leaving about one inch on both ends. Repeat until you have several slits across the paper, each two inches apart with a one-inch border along the sides of the paper.

    4. The paper should still be intact, as in the ends aren’t cut, but with long slits stretching lengthwise across it.

  2. Cut strips of construction paper. With the other color of construction paper, cut even, two-inch strips. You can use scissors, your precision blade, or a cutting board if you have one. Because you want the strips to be the same width (two inches like above), it’s best to prepare this ahead of time.

  3. Demonstrate the weave. Show your toddler how to make the weave. Point out that the base is cut but still together, and demonstrate how to take one strip at a time and weave it through the long slits.

    1. Take a strip of paper and guide it through the first slit so the colored strip is on top. Then go under the intact paper, guiding the colored strip up through the next slit.

    2. Repeat so that the colored strip creates a pattern like so: over, down the slit, under, up the slit, over, down the slit, under, up the slit, and over until you reach the end of the paper.

    3. Continue with another strip of colored paper, but this time, you’ll start under. Keep going while alternating the start of the colored strip on top and under the base.

  4. Finish the pattern. Once you’ve demonstrated, let your toddler try! Remember, this is one of the more challenging paper crafts for toddlers, but if you can be patient with your little artist, you’ll enjoy the look of excitement on their face when they finish! It’s a big accomplishment that fine tunes hand-eye coordination and motor skills.

  5. Paste and cut the ends. You’ll want to trim any remaining paper hanging over the edges and glue the ends in place.

Painting Crafts for Toddlers

Painting Crafts for Toddlers

Painting is a little messier than paper crafts for toddlers—and you’ll need to read the labels of your supplies—but kids love to paint! Plus, painting, especially when staying within lines or shapes, helps develop fine motor skills, which are linked to academic success. In our digitalized world, it’s more important than ever before for toddlers to practice their grip, coordination, and fine motor skills.

6. Walking Dinosaurs

It’s no secret that dinosaur crafts for toddlers—or, really, kids of any age—are favorites. There’s just something about our prehistoric friends that make us smile! With this craft, you can combine painting with creative play, which builds communication, negotiation, and language skills.

Supplies

  • Paper plate

  • Ice pop sticks

  • Child-safe paints

  • Paintbrushes

  • Water for cleaning the brushes

  • White cardstock

  • Colored markers or paint pens

  • Thin permanent marker

  • Googly eyes

  • Glue stick

  • Precision knife

  • Safety scissors

Directions

  1. Prepare the paper plate. Ahead of time, cut a slit in the paper plate. First, decide which side will be the top. Then, with a precision knife, start about two inches above the center of the bottom of the inner circle. You’ll want to cut over to the other side while gradually curving up and then down until you meet the edge of the inner circle. This creates the shape of a hillside for the dinosaurs to walk on!

  2. Prepare the dinosaurs. Let your toddler make their own dinosaurs using white cardstock and a permanent marker. But to make it easier if your little one needs some assistance, download our dinosaur parts template!

  3. Paint the landscape. The paper plate is where the dinosaurs will roam, so they need a proper landscape! Have your toddler paint the part below the slit brown for the hillside, including the outer circle of the paper plate. Then ask your toddler to add some grass and trees above. Remind them to include other things like a blue sky, yellow sun, or big white clouds! The scene is up to your little one.

  4. Paint the dinosaurs. As the landscape dries, your toddler can paint the dinosaur parts with paints or paint pens.

  5. Talk about dinosaurs. A fun part about dinosaur crafts for toddlers is that you can talk about parts of the animals’ body, what they like to eat, and how big they were compared to other animals.

  6. Assemble the dinos. Once the dinosaur parts are dry, have your toddler use safety scissors to cut out the parts and then glue them together. If using the template, they’ll glue the two stubs underneath the body so they stick out like legs, and the same for the long neck and head at the opposite side of the tail.

  7. Paste the ice pop sticks. Glue the sticks behind the dinosaurs’ bodies with enough hanging down for your toddler to hold. Now you have dinosaur puppets!

  8. Play! Let your toddler enjoy this little puppet theater they created. Help them put the bottom of the ice pop sticks through the slit of the paper plate with just the dinosaurs visible. Behind the scenes, they can use their hand to move the dinosaurs back and forth.

7. Tie-Dye Flowers

Flower crafts for toddlers are always a big hit. If you go for walks with your little one, notice how they enjoy looking at colorful flowers. You can make some of your own flowers with this easy craft for toddlers of any age, and it works well for spring or summer!

Supplies

  • White cardstock

  • Child-friendly paints

  • Paintbrushes

  • Water for cleaning the brushes

  • Water in a small squirt bottle

  • Cosmetic cotton pads (six per flower)

  • Glue stick

Directions

  1. Paint the flower petals. This craft combines painting with learning! Place the cotton pads on a surface that you can easily clean. Have your toddler put different colors of paints onto the pads using a paintbrush. You could even show a color wheel so your little one can see what colors go well together, or just let your mini Georgia O’Keeffe go wild!

  2. Absorption. Using the small squirt bottle, your toddler can squeeze water onto the cotton pads. Watch your child’s face light up as the colors move and blend!

  3. Paint the flower stem and leaves. Set the cotton pads aside to dry (if you can place them on a sunny windowsill, even better). Ask your toddler to create the flower’s stem and leaves using a paintbrush and green paint. You can also talk about the different parts of a flower.

  4. Paste the petals. Once everything is dry, have your toddler use a glue stick to paste the colorful petals at the top of the stem. For each flower you make, you’ll use six pads: one should be in the middle with five petals fanning out around it in a circle.

8. Tie-Dye Clothing

Rainbow tie-dye crafts are great for toddlers in the summer, when it’s easier to play outside. And, as a bonus for you, they get some cool clothing out of it!

Supplies

  • White clothing items (T-shirts, socks, pants, hats, etc.)

  • Plastic bags

  • Rubber bands

  • Tie-dye paint kit (with squirt bottles)

  • Plastic buckets or bins

  • Rubber gloves (toddler size)

  • Apron (toddler size)

Directions

  1. Prepare the paints. If you purchase a tie-dye set, the process is much easier. You’ll get all the supplies you need (plastic squirt bottles, paints, gloves, rubber bands, plastic coverings, and instructions). To mix the paints, simply add in the solution or powder into a squirt bottle and mix well with water. You’ll find the instructions and paint-to-water ratio included with the type of paint you purchase.

  2. Prepare the clothing. There are numerous tie-dye techniques, but for young toddlers around ages 2 or 3, this can be an easy craft without any strategy! Simply scrunch up the clothing into a ball, securing it with rubber bands. If your older toddler wants to try a specific design, here are a couple of options:

    1. Ask your toddler to create a circle swirl by laying the clothing flat on the ground. With their fingers, they can grab the middle and start to twist clockwise until the entire piece is circular, kind of like a snail shell. Secure with four rubber bands that evenly stretch across the clothing and cross in the middle, so it looks like a pizza.

    2. To create lines, have your toddler scrunch the clothing into a long cylinder shape and secure with rubber bands across the width so it looks like a sausage! The more rubber bands they use the more lines they’ll have.

  3. Dye the clothing. Now the fun starts! Help your toddler put on an apron to protect clothes and gloves to protect hands. Then place the prepared white clothing (scrunched with rubber bands) in a plastic bin or bucket. Using the squirt bottles, start squirting the colors onto the clothes! If you tried the spiral technique and want that typical rainbow look, it’s best that each piece of the “pizza” has a different color.

  4. Place the clothing in a bag. You’ll need to give the dye time to be absorbed into the clothing, so place it in a plastic bag and let it sit for at least 24 hours. Keep the bag sealed tight, but let your toddler go and check on it periodically as you both anticipate the outcome!

  5. Unfold and wash. The next day, take the clothing out of the bag and remove the rubber bands. As you unfold the masterpiece, your toddler will likely be amazed at the cool patterns they created! Before the new tie-dye pieces are worn, give them a good rinse in cold water followed by the gentle cycle in the wash. After the first wash, colors shouldn’t bleed, and you can wash as usual.

9. Texture Painting

Your toddler is busy exploring the world around them, and texture painting is a fun way to encourage that curiosity and learning. Sensory activities and crafts have lots of benefits for toddlers, including building sensory-motor skills by experimenting with touch.

Supplies

  • Clothespins

  • Random items from around the house or outside (see below)

  • Child-friendly paints

  • White construction paper

Directions

  1. Create the “paintbrushes.” In this easy arts and crafts activity for toddlers, your little one will create their own paintbrushes to explore different textures. Help them find things from outside or around the house that have different textures. Then, ask your little one to bundle them up and help secure them with a clothespin. The clothespin acts as the handle and the different textures act as the brush. You can use things like

    1. sponges

    2. leaves

    3. yarn

    4. sticks

    5. grass

    6. paper

    7. cloth

    8. plastic

    9. wood.

  2. Explore the textures. Encourage your toddler to touch each “brush” so that they can explore the idea of different textures. Talk to them about how each one feels.

  3. Paint with the textures. Pair each “brush” with a different color and let your child start painting on the white construction paper. Enjoy watching them discover how the different textures create different patterns on the paper!

10. Building Block Stamping

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know all about building blocks, or at least you’ve painfully stepped on one! Toddlers of all ages love playing with blocks, although younger children should play with the bigger variety to avoid choking. Turn this treasured toy into a fun stamping craft for your toddler!

Supplies

  • Large building blocks

  • Child-friendly paints

  • White cardstock

  • Child-friendly paints

  • Permanent marker

  • Safety scissors

  • Glue stick

Directions

  1. Prepare the paper. Your toddler can do anything with building block stamping, and simply dipping the block into paint is fun enough! But if you want to incorporate fall crafts or back to school crafts for toddlers, you can ask your child to create an apple or a pumpkin. With a permanent marker, have them draw a large apple or pumpkin shape on the white paper. Then, they can draw a smaller rectangle for the stem and a leaf shape for the leaf.

  2. Start stamping! For pumpkins, you’ll need green, brown, and orange paints. But if you want to make this an apple craft for toddlers, swap out orange for red or light green. Show your toddler the different parts of the fruit and have them dip the blocks into the different colors. They can dip the side with the knobs up, so the stamping creates circles.

    1. Stamp the fruit with orange, red, or light green.

    2. Stamp the stem using brown.

    3. Stamp the leaf in green.

  3. Cut out the fruit parts. After the paint dries, have your toddler cut along the marker lines to cut out the pumpkin or apple, the stem, and the leaf.

  4. Assemble the craft. With the glue stick, ask your toddler to paste the stem underneath the fruit so it pokes up from the top. Paste the leaf next to it, gluing from behind, so it sits off to the side of the stem.

Clay and Dough Crafts for Toddlers

Clay and Dough Crafts for Toddlers

Clay and dough projects provide some easy go-to ideas for arts and crafts that toddlers love. They’re win-win as they encourage a few different areas of development, including creativity and emotional expression. Plus, you have permission to be a little messy!

11. Dough Faces

Combine fun and learning with this beloved dough craft for toddlers: creating faces and expressions! As you work, you can help your little one develop language skills by naming the parts of the face and different expressions. If you’re looking for crafts for older toddlers around 3 or 4 years of age, you can practice perspective, too.

Supplies

  • Cardstock

  • Construction paper

  • Colored dough for playing

  • Laminator or plastic page protector (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare the face outline. Using construction paper, ask your child to cut out an outline of a person’s head, leaving the face blank. It should look like an oval with ears. For an option to reuse these outlines, you can have your toddler glue the head to white cardstock paper and put it in a page protector. Or, you could laminate it and cut it out.

  2. Discuss parts of the head and face. As you work, talk about the different parts of the face and head, such as the hair, eyes, eyebrows, ears, nose, and lips.

  3. Make parts of the face with dough. Using colorful dough, help your toddler shape different parts of the face. Have fun making two eyes using your own eye color and two black dots for the pupils, red or pink for the lips, the color of your little one’s hair for the eyebrows and hair, etc. Then ask your toddler to place the shapes on the outline. Use a mirror to help your child understand where parts go.

  4. Change the expression. To help your toddler explore different feelings and expressions, ask them to make a happy face, and then a sad or angry face. Finish up with a silly face or make a monster with multiple body parts!

12. Dough Bugs

Butterfly and bug crafts are popular activities for toddlers, and they could work well in the spring and summer or when you’re hiking or camping with your family. And if you’re stuck inside during bad weather, these bug craft ideas can be a fun way for toddlers to pass the time as they go camping in your living room!

Supplies

  • Colored dough for play

  • Piece of white cardboard

Directions

  1. Talk about bugs and butterflies. Discuss these creatures with your little Darwin, noting how butterflies have colorful wings, long bodies, and antennae. Or if your toddler wants to make a bug, talk about what a bug looks like. Maybe your little one will want to make a ladybug, honeybee, ant, or dragonfly.

  2. Assemble the creature. Allow your toddler’s creativity to flow here and let them create whatever they want. If you want, you can help them get the perspective correct or demonstrate that butterfly wings are symmetric, so if you place a big red dot on one side, your toddler can match that on the other.

13. Festive Tree Handprint Ornament

Not much beats a handprint of your child, so why not make a keepsake out of it? These ornaments make perfect winter crafts for toddlers, and your little artisan will have fun throughout the process!

Supplies

  • Bakeable clay, or

  • Salt dough

    • 4 cups flour

    • 1 cup salt

    • 1.5 cups warm water

    • Mixing bowl and spoon

  • Oven

  • Baking sheet

  • Rolling pin

  • Parchment paper

  • Butter knife

  • Cookie cutters (optional)

  • Drinking straw

  • Child-friendly paints for clay

  • Paintbrushes

  • Water for cleaning the brushes

  • Glue

  • Decorations like pom-poms, felt, glitter, sequins, etc.

  • Permanent marker

  • Ribbon, yarn, or string to hang the ornament

Directions

  1. Make the clay (optional). You can purchase bakeable clay online or at a craft store, or you can make your own salt dough with a very easy recipe. All you need is all-purpose flour, salt, and warm water.

    1. Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

    2. Combine flour and salt until well mixed.

    3. Slowly add the water while stirring. When it becomes too thick, mix with your hands and knead for a few minutes until smooth and pliable.

  2. Roll the dough. Whether using bakeable clay or salt dough, place the dough on a flat surface protected by parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top and roll out the dough so it’s an even thickness (about one-eighth inch). You don’t want it too thick or the ornaments will crack in the oven.

  3. Press into the dough. Remove the top parchment paper and help your toddler press one hand into the dough, spreading fingers wide. Make as many impressions as you and your child would like! You can also use cookie cutters if you have extra dough and want to make other ornaments, like circles, hearts, or stars.

  4. Carefully cut around the hand impression. You want to keep the handprints and any cookie cutter dough on the parchment paper. So carefully use a butter knife to cut around the hand in either a large circle or around each finger and a crescent shape around the bottom of the palm.

  5. Create a hole. To hang your ornaments or handprints, take a drinking straw and create a hole where you want the top to be. For a decorated tree ornament, the hole should be at the bottom of the palm, so turn the hand upside down.

  6. Bake and cool. If using bakeable clay, check the instructions on the package. For salt dough, bake your ornaments on parchment paper and a baking tray at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about one hour. Check on the ornaments throughout, as you want them to be hard but not too brown. Let your little one peek at the ornaments while they bake! Cool completely before painting.

  7. Paint and decorate. If you’re doing cookie cutter ornaments, it’s time for your toddler to decorate however they’d like! They can paint, use glue and glitter, or stick sequins. They can also leave the hand ornament blank as a keepsake or create a festive tree out of it.

    1. Festive tree. To make a decorated tree, your toddler can paint the entire hand green. When it’s dry, they can glue some fun decorations onto their “tree!” Add some glitter for tinsel, pom-poms or sequins for lights or ornaments, and a felt star for the top.

  8. Attach a ribbon or string. Thread a colorful ribbon, string, or piece of yarn through the hole and tie it so that you can hang this beautiful ornament!

14. Plant Press

This is another one of those easy crafts for toddlers that allow your little explorer to spend time in nature. Before pressing plants into clay, you’ll need to go outside with your child to gather some small leaves, weeds, flowers, and plants.

Supplies

  • Bakeable clay or reusable dough for play

  • Small pieces of nature (flowers, plants, leaves, sticks, weeds, etc.)

  • Child-friendly, water-based paints for clay (optional)

  • Paintbrushes (optional)

  • Water for cleaning the brushes (optional)

  • Rolling pin (optional)

  • Parchment paper (optional)

  • Cookie cutters (optional)

Directions

  1. Collect pieces of nature. If you haven’t done so already, take your toddler into your yard or nearest park and collect some small pieces of nature, like sticks, flowers, plants, leaves, etc.

  2. Roll out the dough. If using reusable dough for play and don’t plan on keeping your flower prints, you can roll it out easily with your hands and move on to step no. 4. But if you want to keep these prints and bake them, you’ll need to roll the bakeable clay out between two sheet of parchment paper to about one-eighth inch of thickness. If you’d like to use homemade salt dough, see the recipe in the craft above for handprint ornaments, craft no. 13.

  3. Cut pieces of clay. If using bakeable clay or salt dough, help your child use cookie cutters to create the desired shapes, such as squares, circles, hearts, or rectangles.

  4. Press the plants. Have your toddler press the plants, flowers, sticks, weeds, and anything else you collected from nature into the clay or dough. Watch your little one’s face when they see how the outline shows up after removing the plant! If using reusable dough, keep pressing as much as you want until ready to clean up. If you are baking these keepsakes, move on to the next step once you’ve finished pressing all of the nature items.

  5. Bake and cool. Make sure all pieces of nature are removed, then place the pressed pieces onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and follow the instructions on the box. If using homemade salt dough, bake for about one hour at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, checking a bit before to make sure your creations are hard but not too brown.

  6. Paint. Once the pieces are completely cool, your toddler can paint their treasures! Use water-based paints so that the outline of the flower or plant still shows.

15. Dough Mats

Dough mats are favorites in preschool and early elementary grades for learning things like letters of the alphabet, numbers, and basic counting. You can make a dough mat for learning or for fun, and your little one will love using clay to complete the activities. These are great preschool or back-to-school crafts for toddlers.

Supplies

  • White cardstock or printed templates

  • Permanent or colored markers

  • Ruler (optional)

  • Plastic page protectors or laminator

  • Colorful dough for play

Directions

  1. Prepare the dough mats. You can find lots of free templates online for dough mats, or you can create your own with white paper and a permanent or colored marker. It doesn’t need to be pretty; your toddler will love it! Here are some ideas for creating your own, all using plain white paper and markers.

    1. Alphabet. Draw large versions of each letter of the alphabet in upper and lower case, one page for each letter. Download our template for the letter A!

    2. Numbers and counting. Use one page for each number up to 10. Write a large version of the number and draw a large apple tree next to it. Then, using a ruler, draw a rectangle at the bottom of the paper and divide it evenly into 10 squares. Download our template for the number five!

    3. Animals. Draw a large outline of different animals, like a cat, dog, bird, or ladybug. Leave out some details like eyes, whiskers, beaks, feet, etc. Download our template for a cute kitty cat!

    4. Seasons. Draw a large outline of a tree with just the trunk and branches. Leave out details like leaves, flowers, and fruit. Download our tree template!

    5. Shapes. Draw large outlines of common shapes, like a square, triangle, circle, and rectangle. Download our square, circle, and triangle template!

  2. Protect the mat. You may want to reuse these mats, so you can protect them with either plastic page protectors or by laminating them. Many copy stores offer laminating services.

  3. Play on the dough mat. Give your toddler some colorful dough and let them complete the activities on the mat.

    1. Alphabet. Ask your toddler to roll out the dough into pieces and lay them over the outline of the letters, both upper and lower case. Teach them the sounds and names of the letters.

    2. Numbers and counting. Just like with the letters, your toddler can roll out dough and place pieces on the outline of the number. Then, they can make the number of balls to put on the apple tree! So, for the number five, you toddler can make five small balls. Then, they can “pick the apples” and use the balls to count on the squares.

    3. Animals. Use the dough to have your toddler add missing characteristics of animals, such as tiger stripes, bird wings, dog ears, or cat whiskers.

    4. Seasons. Your toddler can decorate the tree for each season. Have them make green leaves for spring and summer, colorful leaves for fall, and snow for winter. Add cherries for the summertime, apples for the fall, and flowers for the spring!

    5. Shapes. Help your child learn the names of each shape and how to create them by asking your toddler to roll pieces of dough and place them over the outlines.

Sensory Crafts for Toddlers

Sensory Crafts for Toddlers

Children love to feel different textures, which is why sensory crafts for toddlers are always a hit! Your little one will most likely enjoy handling and touching items such as soft cotton balls, rough glitter, smooth rice, and more!

16. Nature Landscape

Have your toddler build their own little ecosystem using pieces of nature found outside. Crafts like this one are fun to repeat as the seasons change and different textures appear. Why not have your child explore the natural world every few months and create separate landscapes for spring, summer, fall, and winter?

Supplies

  • Dough or clay for playing

  • Objects found out in nature, including

    • sticks

    • rocks

    • twigs

    • pieces of plants

    • moss

    • bark from trees

    • chestnuts or acorns

    • dried plants

    • pinecones

    • seeds.

Directions

  1. Collect the goods. Enjoy a walk with your toddler. You can find plenty of nature goodies in your yard or at the park. It’s best to choose things that won’t rot, so leave the pretty flowers behind.

  2. Wash and dry the goods. To make sure there aren’t any bugs or dirt lurking in your pile, rinse them off in a strainer. For pinecones, give them a good soak with warm soap and water, then let them dry.

  3. Create your base. Using the dough, have your toddler create a base for their ecosystem. It can be a flat surface or something like a mound for a little more texture. The base needs to be thick enough for heavier objects to stay upright, so if they make a flat, thinner base, save light things for that one. Make as many bases as your little biologist wants!

  4. Add textures. Have your toddler stick their nature finds onto the base to create the mini ecosystem. Help them add variety so that when they revisit their creation, they have different types of textures to explore. They can add things like smooth rocks, rough pieces of bark, plants with rough stems and soft leaves, and spongy moss.

  5. Repeat on other bases. Have your toddler continue adding different goods to the other bases. You can keep them around the house so your little one can explore whenever they wish.

17. Fiery Dragon

You can do so much with toilet paper rolls, as they make handy bases for fun animal crafts that toddlers love, like creating penguins, bees, and even jellyfish! This particular activity is a terrific toilet paper roll craft for toddlers, since it involves making a dragon and pretending to “breathe” fire.

Supplies

  • Toilet paper rolls

  • Child-friendly paint (green, yellow, and black)

  • Sponge brushes

  • Medium-sized paintbrush

  • Thin paintbrush

  • Green pom-poms

  • Small wood or foam spheres

  • Orange and red crepe paper

  • Safety scissors

  • Glue stick

  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

Directions

  1. Paint the toilet paper rolls. Paper towel and toilet paper rolls are easy choices for toddler crafts because you can probably collect dozens of these in no time! For each dragon, you’ll need one toilet paper roll or paper towel roll cut in half. Your toddler can paint the outside of the roll green and set it aside to dry. Using a sponge brush is much easier when painting on cardboard.

  2. Paint the dragon eyes. With the same green color and sponge brush, ask your toddler to paint the two spheres. Foam spheres are best because they’re lightweight, but you can also use wooden spheres if they aren’t too heavy. Set aside to dry.

  3. Cut the crepe paper. Roll out the red and orange crepe paper and have your toddler use safety scissors to cut long strips. The strips can be thick or thin, but there should be enough material to glue around the entire edge of the roll.

  4. Finish the eyes. Once the green paint has dried on the sphere, your toddler can finish painting the dragon’s eyes. Using a conventional paintbrush, have them paint a yellow circle on one side of the green spheres. When that has dried, they can use a thinner paintbrush to create two vertical slits with black paint, so the dragon looks a bit like a reptile!

  5. Assemble the dragon. Now it’s time for your toddler to assemble their dragon! Using strong glue or a hot glue gun (you’ll need to help here), assist your little one as they stick the eyes on one end of the roll. At the opposite end but on the same side, you and your toddler can glue the two pom-poms for the nostrils. Using a glue stick, ask your toddler to rub glue on the inside of the roll at the end where the nose is. Then, they can stick one end of the crepe paper strips inside, holding for a few seconds so they stick. Alternate between yellow and red.

  6. Breathe like a dragon! Hold the dragon by placing your toddler’s hand around the nose between the eyes and nostrils. With one big breath, they can blow through the toilet paper roll and watch the crepe paper (the fire) flicker! For sensory stimulation, your little one can listen to the sound as breath moves through the roll, plus feel the breath and watch how the crepe paper moves.

18. String Painting

Finger painting is a great sensory activity, but it can get boring after a while. To spice it up, try string painting instead. This activity allows your toddler to feel the paint on their fingers while using an interesting strategy to create different patterns.

Supplies

  • White cardstock

  • Bowls

  • String

  • Child-friendly paints

Directions

  1. Dip the strings. Put the paints into bowls, so one color is in each bowl. Then, have your toddler dip a string into each bowl so that a few clean inches are poking out over the edge.

  2. Put the string on the paper. Next, your little Frida Kahlo can pick up the string from the clean side and place it on the paper. There’s no right or wrong way to do this; in fact, the patterns look more interesting if the string is placed at random!

  3. Move the string. Have your toddler move the string by either taking it off the paper quickly or slowly, or by moving it around the paper. When finished, set the string aside.

  4. Try more colors. Now your little artist can try with another string and another color and repeat until their paper has lots of swirls, lines, and blobs in different colors and patterns. If they want to make more than one masterpiece, use fresh string for each round so you don’t mix the colors in the bowls.

19. Rice Hearts

Rice is commonly used for sensory activities as it’s soft and smooth. Take the experience to a new level by making a sweet craft to give to someone your toddler loves!

Supplies

  • 2 cups of white rice

  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

  • Red and pink food coloring

  • Plastic bags

  • Glue

  • Cardstock

Directions

  1. Dye the rice. You can do this beforehand without your toddler. It’s a simple process, but it involves vinegar and food coloring, so it’s not ideal for toddler interaction.

    1. Divide the rice into two plastic bags that seal, one cup of rice in each.

    2. Add one-half teaspoon of vinegar to each, and then seal and shake so that it covers the rice.

    3. Add several drops of food coloring, red to one bag and pink to another. Shake until all the rice is covered. Add more food coloring if you want darker shades.

    4. Spread the rice out on a flat surface to dry. Baking sheets work well, but you can also use parchment paper. Either way, keep it out of reach of your children while it dries. It’s best to wait at least 24 hours.

  2. Glue the red rice. Help your toddler squeeze glue onto a piece of heavy cardstock, making a heart shape. As an alternative, you can draw a heart on the paper and ask your little one to follow the line with the glue, building those fine motor skills. Make sure to choose thick glue and have your toddler pour the red rice over it, pressing down gently with their fingers.

  3. Glue the pink rice. Repeat the process with a smaller heart shape inside the red heart with pink rice.

20. Cotton Ball Snowman

Toddlers love winter crafts for a reason—they’re fun and celebrate a season that children tend to enjoy. One way to combine sensory crafts with winter is to have your toddler create a snowman using soft cotton balls and other texturized materials.

Supplies

  • Cardstock

  • Cotton balls

  • Orange felt

  • Black felt

  • Brown pipe cleaners

  • Red ribbon

  • Black pom-poms

  • Googly eyes

  • Safety scissors

  • Glue stick

Directions

  1. Paste the cotton balls. Help your toddler squeeze glue onto the card stock, sticking the cotton balls onto the paper in the shape of a snowman. To help them along, they can draw three circles on the paper, the smallest at the top and the largest at the bottom.

  2. Cut out the snowman accessories. Using the black felt and safety scissors, have your toddler cut out a top hat for the snowman, and a long, thin triangle nose from the orange felt. They can cut the brown pipe cleaners for bendable arms and cut the red ribbon to go around their snowman for a cozy scarf.

  3. Paste the accessories. Ask your toddler to glue the top hat on their snowman’s head, the scarf at the base of the small circle and top of the middle circle, the “carrot” nose and googly eyes on the face, and the pom-poms down the middle for buttons.

21. Glitter Snowflakes

Toddlers are always up for making snowflakes. And every toddler believes that adding glitter to the craft makes it even more exciting! (Don’t worry, Mom and Dad—we added some tips for easy cleanup!)

Supplies

  • Large ice pop sticks (four per snowflake)

  • Paper plates, newspaper, or construction paper

  • Liquid glue

  • Glitter (or glitter glue)

  • Sequins (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare the workstation. Glitter snowflake crafts are fun for toddlers, but if you’ve worked with glitter before, you know it’s a hassle to clean! To help avoid the mess, work with a paper plate, newspaper, or construction paper underneath to contain the glitter. Or, better yet, use glitter glue for a mess-free glitter experience (whoever invented this deserves an award).

  2. Paste the ice pop sticks together. Have your toddler glue the ice pop sticks together so they resemble the shape of a snowflake. You can use regular liquid glue for this, but you may need to help your toddler press firmly for about 10 seconds or so to ensure it holds.

    1. Glue two sticks together like a cross, pasting in the middle.

    2. Glue another stick on top so it fits evenly between two points of the cross.

    3. Glue the fourth stick between the remaining two sections of the original cross, always remembering to glue in the middle. Now your toddler has a snowflake shape!

  3. Apply glue or glitter glue to the sticks. If using glitter glue, this is the last step because the glitter is already mixed into the glue. Have your toddler hold the bottle of glue above each of the ice pop sticks and slowly squeeze while moving down the stick. This is great practice for those fine motor skills!

  4. Apply the glitter. Before the glue dries, your toddler can sprinkle the glitter. Use different colors of glitter for variety or add some sequins for more fun! To help keep your little one’s hands glitter-free, have them use a spoon to sprinkle glitter over each stick, letting the paper underneath catch any mess. If you do this with one color at a time, you can carefully pour any remaining glitter back into the package for future use.

  5. Feel the ornaments. When the glue dries, your little one can inspect their handiwork, touching the snowflakes and enjoying the rough sensation the glitter and sequins create.

Downloadable Templates

downloadable templates with crafts for toddlers

In case you missed them, below you’ll find six downloadable templates to help make crafts for your toddler fun while cutting down on the prep work! We created a dinosaur parts template for the dinosaur paper craft, plus five templates for dough mats. Click on the links below to download the templates.

The Bottom Line

Arts and crafts for toddlers, whether easy or a little more challenging, are a great way to foster creativity and boost fine motor skills in your little da Vinci! For toddlers, at home crafts are especially fun because family time is special for your child. Don’t forget to admire and prominently display those creations!

Read more about toddler milestones and take a look at our baby growth chart below to know what exciting developments are on the horizon as your little artist learns, grows, and explores.