This is not a new craft, handprint turkey crafts in their many variations are everywhere and they should be , they are classic and simply a part of childhood! This one is adapted for toddlers to make them active participants in the creation of the craft. You can often adapt craft projects meant for older children to a toddler’s ability by using different tools, fewer steps ( less detail) and removing small pieces that may be dangerous. Also I find with messy crafts like this using a booster that allows you to belt your child in is useful, not to force them in any way to do the craft ( which should not happen) but rather to keep them in one safe place after they have messy hands. No one is calm if their child is making a beeline for the couch with hands covered in paint. This way we can focus on the activity not the mess.
- Gather your materials. You will need a toilet paper ( or paper towel roll), a paper grocery bag or craft paper, paint, a plastic basting brush and plastic plate, glue , scissors and googly eyes* I used googly eyes because my daughter doesn’t mouth them. If you read my posts from 2008 you will see I never used them when my son was this age, because they would go in his mouth immediately. I still watched her like a hawk and only brought them out when it was time to glue. If your child is like my son , just draw the eyes on like I did with the nose.
- Cut open the bag and tape it to the table. I love doing this for toddler art , it’s a drop cloth and project all at once.
- Start by tracing their hands 3-5 times on the bag. We did 4 and as you may be able to tell that was not easy. If your child is really resistant trace one hand on a cereal box or other scrap paper then cut it out and use that for a template. Don’t upset them before they even get to make a mess !
- Time to paint, add multiple colors on the plate.
- See why I used a plastic plate?
- Also this brush she is using is a plastic basting brush. I chose it because the bristles are sturdy silicone and have never ripped off despite effort to tear it. It’s also big enough for clumbsy toddler fists to paint with.
- Expect them to use their hands , although I should mention some kids at this age start showing a real aversion to getting things on their hands , don’t force them to “relax” , instead offer a wet wash cloth to wipe anything off, and support their play even if it’s not what you expected. Many kids don’t like messy play.
- Cut the roll in half. Draw a nose or rather beak for the turkey.
- Roll the roll in the paint.
- Let dry ( I cleaned up the mess while singing to her and giving the roll a minute to dry ). Add glue to the roll. Help your child place the eyes on the glue.
- Let the hand prints dry and cut out.
- Add glue to the roll and place the cut out hands on the back as turkey feathers. Tip: Use a clothes pin to hold them in place until the glue dries.
- Add this to your holiday mantle.
As you may imagine this was a very exciting day for us, the first time my daughter really got into the action. Amazingly unlike her brother who ate the paint for over two years it didn’t even graze her lips. This kids craft can be done with any age with varying levels of adult involvement. I love how it turned out and this one will be packed away and saved for certain.
- Gather your materials. You will need some heavy paper or paper grocery bag, a marker, green paint ( we added some glitter paint to ours too), construction paper, glue, scissors and paint tape.
- Start by cutting the bag open and taping it down to the table. When you are crafting with a baby or toddler it’s going to be messy but you can take a few steps to help minimize it. By taping the paper you are using to the table as well as using a piece much larger than needed you avoid the paper and paint hitting the floor and protect your table. Not to mention you also stop them from being able to grab the whole thing and trying to eat it.
- Trace their hand on a paper with the marker.
- Stack the other papers under and cut out.
- Draw the outline of a tree on the paper. I did ours sideways so she could reach most of it for painting.
- Time to paint! Add the paint to the paper and let the baby spread it . What is this ?
- “Ooh I like it” Remember to narrate what they are doing. ” You are painting the tree, you are painting with green. Do you like it? Is it squishy?” yes you might feel a little foolish but trust me it’s important you are teaching them even when they are too young to respond in ways we recognize.
- I had to take her out of her seat and dangle her over the table to reach the other side. She loved this. Obviously I have no picture …
- Clean baby up and place in the exersaucer. I had 2 baby wipes on hand to wipe her hands. I find they work on paint better than anything, then a wash cloth with warm water cleaned her right up.
- Add glue to the tree.
- Add the hand print cut outs. Let dry.
- Cut out .
Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman arrived on my door step a few months ago sent to me by the publisher for review. It is a really fun and educational book. The book is a new spin on the old song ” Ten in A Bed” but instead of squeezing onto a bed these cold weather animals pile on and off the sled one at a time. What is wonderful from an educational sense is not just the obvious counting element but as each animal exists the sled the verb used for each animal begins with the same letter as the animal does. This was fantastic for my son who wanted to sound every animal and verb out. Add a fun rhyming sing song text and this is a great option for a holiday gift.
SantaKid by James Patterson is a favorite library book in our house this year . My son inherited his love and curiosity of the inner workings of the North Pole from me and this book feeds that wonder. It also taps into something preschoolers are often seeking, power and a voice that gets heard. In the story Santa’s daughter saves the North Pole and Christmas from a corporate take over. I liked this book, and my son did too. It doesn’t focus on the religious celebration but rather on Santa and it doesn’t take a very sophisticated kid to know it’s make believe, 3 pages in my son said ” Mommy, this is a made up story right? Santa isn’t a regular Daddy, that’s silly!” What it does is focuses on giving kids power to save something. Maybe it’s just my 4 year old but he spends all day pretending to save the day and this book spoke right to that desire to be powerful and good!
Olive, the Other Reindeer.by Vivian Walsh is probably familiar to you if not because of the book, maybe the TV special starring Drew Barrymore as the voice of Olive. If it’s new to you the story is simple, Olive is a little dog who after hearing a Christmas carol believes she is one of Santa’s reindeer . She journey’s to the North Pole and even though she can’t fly and is just a dog she saves the day . I love the vibrant and busy illustrations by J. Otto Seibold and Olive’s childlike innocence. There is a reason this book has exploded into a character driven product, it’s cute and we can all relate to wanting to get to ride with Santa and his crew on Christmas Eve.
This hedgehog craft was so fun, it’s simple, but we had a great time doing it while Little Missy was swinging in the swing in the morning. What I really loved was his imagination when I gave him the crayons to draw where the hedgehog lived, it’s habitat ( new word for the day). He made me go get more crayons for different things like grass, water and toys. It would be cute to make a whole family of them with your hand prints too!
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 colors of construction paper, I used 2 sheets of brown because my guy has insane long fingers and one yellow. Also some crayons , glue, scissors and one googly eye.
- Start by tracing your child’s hand. I find it easier to trace once, and fold the paper into layers to cut the number I want out.
- Hand your child the crayons and sheet of paper to draw the hedgehog’s habitat. New vocab word slipped in there!
- Cut the hand prints out while they draw.
- Cut out a head.
- Time to glue.
- Add a hand or twoAdd more for the next layer if need be.
- Add the head
- Add the glue for the eye.
- Add the eye and let dry!
Hedgehog, Pig, and the Sweet Little Friend by Lena Anderson is not a book I like. I hate giving bad reviews mostly because I think that every book has something for some child and that may be true of this book . I worry though as a parent about the message about strangers this one gives. A little pig seeks refuge at Hedgehogs house after getting lost, and while I like that the little pig asked for help the hedgehog suggests:
“First fill your tummy, then I’ll make up a bed. We can all sleep together tonight. Tomorrow we’ll find your mama for sure.”
WHAT? Maybe I am just paranoid ( I tend to be a little over safety conscious, especially in the first few months postpartum ) but really? I immediately started to say something to my son about it and he chimed in saying that he wouldn’t want to stay at someone else’s house. Not saying he wouldn’t but that he wouldn’t want to. I told him that it’s not a good idea and luckily we have phones unlike Hedgehog and we can ask a nice person to call for help or better yet find/call a police officer. Don’t even get me started about the sub plot of the seemingly adult male pig falling in love with this little lost pig too. The book was originally written in Swedish and I keep thinking that perhaps the story was lost in translation? Perhaps.
Hedgehog (Animal Neighbors) by Michael Leach is a great resource about these spiky little creatures. My son and I learned so much neither of us knew about hedgehogs. Did you know baby hedgehogs are called hoglets? The book has a good mix of pictures, illustrations and short pieces of text filled with facts. The short paragraphs of text are perfect for little guys who aren’t ready for a full book but want to learn more about the subject, parents can pick and choose which tid bits to share while exploring the pictures too.
Around our home we love to do handprint crafts. There is something so wonderful about using hands to create art in an unconventional way. You can celebrate caterpillars of all kinds with this simple handprint caterpillar craft. This is the perfect activity to accompany any book with caterpillars or the life cycle of a butterfly.
Gather your supplies. You’ll need a few items:
- Tempera paint (in a color of your choice, plus a little black)
- Paint brush (We prefer the wide tip sponge kind)
- Construction paper
- Little hands, of course
- Start out by prepping your work area. Lay down something to protect your work surface.
- Get your paints ready. I pour about a palm-sized circle of paint on a shallow tray or pie pan. That way I can have multiple colors on one tray. This is just preference. Do what works for you. Just be sure to get everything ready before you bring your toddler or preschooler in on the process.
- Next, using simple and clear directions, instruct your child to open their hand flat (like they are making a “high-five”), palm facing up.
- Paint only the palm and not the fingers. Be generous with the paint. Making sure to get all the side and crevicesN
- Paint the fingers up to the knuckle, black
- Remind them to keep their hand open and flat.
- Next, holding their wrist in one hand and their finger tips in the other, lay their hand flat on the piece of construction paper.
- While their hand is still down, press gently on the center of the back of the hand and all the fingertips.
- Lift the hand straight up.
- Repeat 4-5 times, the 5th time leave off the black fingers to make the head.
- Once dry, paint on two antennae and an eye and a smile, if desired.
by Eric Carle