Here are some free or low cost craft activities for young children. Fabric and ceramic painting, mosaics and more. Find it all in Craft Activities for 4 – 7 years olds.
Most children between 4 and 7 years old are still at a stage where they are happy being creative, just for the fun of it. They have not yet bought into the ‘yours is better than mine’ competition, and they have no trouble finding ideas and inspiration.
At this age arts and crafts should be simple projects, with broad guidelines that allow children space to use their own ideas. By all means provide examples to stimulate their thinking, but if you let them use their imagination, chances are they will surprise you with the results.
Here are some easy to make craft ideas for 4 to 7 year olds. Our other craft articles also have some great ideas which can be adapted to suit this age group, so make sure you check out ‘Craft Activities for 8 – 12 year olds’ and ‘Craft Activities for Teenagers’ as well.
3 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
3 tablespoons cooking oil
3 cups boiling water
Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and cooking oil together in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and food colouring. Stir well until the mixture leaves the side of the bowl. Add more flour if the mixture seems too sticky. Turn out of the bowl and knead. Store in a container in the fridge. It will last a long time.
Fabric painting is a great activity for young children because even ‘scribbles’ create an awesome result. Look for fabric paints that set on drying, or by applying heat such as an iron or hair dryer. These are the easiest to use and are generally the least expensive. Fabric paints come in all sorts of colours and finishes including glitter, neon, puffy, transparent and sparkly, and are available from good craft stores or sewing centres for about $4 per tube.
Make sure your child has a piece of cardboard at the back of their project so the paint does not travel through to the table they are working on. For projects like T-shirts or pillowcases, slip a piece of card in between the layers, so that the paint does not weep through and ruin the opposite side of their item.
Some cool things to decorate with fabric paints include:
- Tog Bags
- Book Bags
- Caps and Hats
- Fabric Placemats
By the time children start school, the masses of toys start to diminish, and children start developing a few clear favourites. In our house my youngest daughter guards her dolls with her life, but other favourites could include blocks, cars and trucks, colouring books, or sports toys. Making a case for their favourite toys is a project young children really enjoy, and as a bonus there’s less picking up for you to do when it comes to tidy-up time.
Start by traipsing around second hand shops to find an old suitcase, and then go through magazines and toy catalogues cutting out lots and lots of pictures of your child’s favourite toy. Glue the pictures all over the case using water-based glue, and then paint a thin layer of glue right over the top to act as a sealant. If you like you can finish with a coat of clear varnish, or completely cover the case in clear book covering. If your child has lots of toy collections, you could make a case for each one (and if you can’t find a case, you can use the same technique on a wooden, plastic or cardboard box).
Young children love modelling things, and while play dough is lots of fun, it doesn’t provide them with something they can keep. Clay is a great ‘next step’ and you don’t necessarily need fancy tools and kilns for your child to be an expert potter. Air-dry clay is a wonderful product that can be molded like dough, and set aside to dry. Once completely hard, (about 24 hours), the creations can be painted using everyday acrylic paints.
Air dry clay comes in 2 different colours (white and terracotta) and costs approximately $7 for 500g and $13 for 1kg. It is available from good craft shops and educational toy stores.
Some great things to make with air dry clay include:
- A name plate for your child’s bedroom door. Roll out the clay to the desired size and shape, and then make two holes in the top for a ribbon to be threaded through for hanging. Decorate the plaque by making patterns with a skewer, or press on small clay creations for a 3D effect. Once dry, paint it up.
- Small bowls and containers for storing treasures.
- Candle holders in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
- Models of people, animals, plants, vehicles and ‘things’.
- Decorations for special celebrations like Christmas and Easter. Make sure you punch a ‘hanging hole’ while the clay is still soft.
Ceramic Painting is a great craft for young children because it gives them complete freedom of expression, while creating something permanent at the same time. You can take your child to a ceramic studio where they paint soft ceramic pieces, but as these are really fragile, the outing can often end in tears. A more fail-proof way to do ceramic painting, is to do it at home using oven bake ceramic paints.
Oven bake ceramic paints are used like ordinary paints, and children paint on to any pre-fired ceramics – which means ordinary everyday dinner sets. Once dry, you bake the item in your kitchen oven, and leave it to cool. It then becomes food safe and dishwasher safe – just like a bought one! Oven bake ceramic paints are available at good crafts stores for between $4 and $6 per tube.
Some great projects to try include:
- Have each child paint their own set of a plate, cup and bowl. You will always know who hasn’t put their dish in the dishwasher!
- Buy one big platter and have all your children decorate it as a special occasion plate. You can pull it out for things like birthdays, Christmas, good reports, playing hard at sport, or whatever reasons you can think of to celebrate.
- Decorate a bowl to use as a pet feeding dish.
- Have each child decorate a wall tile, and use it as a hot plate. If you are renovating, you can actually tile it into your home.
- Decorate a plain ceramic vase, and give it to Grandma with a bunch of hand picked flowers.
- Buy a plain ceramic bathroom set (toothbrush holder, soap dish …) and let the children paint and decorate it.
While children at this age lack the motor skills to make intricate mosaics, most love the idea of smashing and sticking. A mosaic rock is an easy project for young children to do, and it’s a lovely way to brighten up the garden.
- Have your child draw a simple picture onto their rock using a crayon. Remind them it needs to be simple, as fiddly stringy bits can get tricky later on.
- Cut up your tile pieces using a pair of tile cutters, or roll them in a towel and tap the back of the tiles with a hammer. Set them aside in piles of different colours so they are easy to find.
- Smear a layer of handyman adhesive like Liquid Nails onto a small piece of the picture, and quickly place on the tiles before it starts to harden. Continue doing the picture bit by bit until it is complete.
- Put masking tape around the outside of the mosaic picture, leaving about 1cm gap between the tiles and tape. This will help give you a nice edge when you grout.
- Once the glue is set, mix up a small portion of grout by following the instructions on the packet.
- Wearing rubber gloves, smear the grout all over the mosaic picture, making sure to press it into all the gaps.
- Once the grout starts to go powdery, wipe it off the tiles with a dry rag and polish the tiles until they are shiny.
- Carefully remove the masking tape, smooth the edges with a wet finger, and your mosaic is complete.
If you don’t have a handy rock lurking in the garden, then you can buy one from a landscaping supply store for about $3.00.
For more information about Mosaics, check out the Mosaics article in our Activities section.