Young children love arts and crafts, and you do not need lots of art supplies to keep them happy. A pack of crayons is all you need to get started, and these great ideas will keep your kids (boys and girls) busy for hours.
Every house has a pack of crayons and working with them helps your child develop all sorts of skills. While we take it for granted, scribbling with a crayon is no small feat for a toddler. Consider that only a year ago they probably didn’t even know they had hands, let alone have the skills to pick up a crayon, grasp it, and move it over the page with enough pressure to leave a mark. That really is incredible.
Making crayon play inviting and accessible for your preschool child will encourage them to draw or ‘scribble’ more often, and as they do, they are developing valuable skills in preparation for writing. They begin to become more co-ordinated, their fine motor skills develop, and they discover ways to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas on paper. Most importantly they get to have fun for funs sake.
Make sure you choose crayons that are big and chunky, so that they are easy for your preschooler to grasp. Give them big sheets of paper, and if necessary tape or weight it down so they don’t have to hold it while they draw. Let them sprawl out on the floor or prop them up on pillows at the table, to make sure their drawing space is the right height for them, and clear away all other clutter and distractions.
Setting up your child’s drawing area to make it easy for them, in turn makes it easy for you. If they are frustrated by small crayons they can’t grasp, or paper that keeps blowing away, then chances are they will give up and want you to entertain them. If you set up their environment well, then they can literally draw for hours.
Making the most of your crayon box is easy – it just takes a little imagination and the desire to have some fun. Here are some great crayon craft ideas to get you started.
1. Giant crayons
Take 3 or 4 of your child’s crayons, and tape them together with Sellotape to make one BIG crayon. As your child draws, they will produce 3 or 4 lines with different colours, and their swirls and scribbles will make fabulous designs.
2. Grated Crayons
Give your child a cheese grater, and help them grate different coloured crayons on to a piece of plain white paper (photocopy paper is perfect). Place a second piece of paper over the top and iron the picture with an iron on low heat. The wax will slowly melt and move together, creating a slightly transparent look. Tape the pictures to a window, and as the sun shines through the coloured wax looks like stained glass.
3. Scratch Art
Have your child completely colour a piece of paper with different coloured crayons, so that no white space is showing, then paint over the top with black poster paint. When the paint is dry, your child can use a pencil to scratch out a picture which will show in all the crayon colours they used underneath.
Colouring an entire piece of paper can be tedious and quite hard on a little hand muscles, so give them a smallish piece of paper and make it a project they can do over time. If they have had enough of colouring (rather than drawing), put the paper away for another day.
4. Crayon Transfers
Another way you can use a completely coloured piece of paper, is to make crayon transfers. Have your child colour a piece of paper as above, and then turn the picture upside down on to a clean piece of paper. Using a pen or pencil, your child can draw a picture on the back of your coloured sheet. The picture will transfer to their clean page in multi-colour.
5. Crayon and Dye
Give your child thick paper to draw on, and then use cold water dye to brush over the top. The crayon will resist being coloured, and the background will become nicely washed. Cold water dye is available from pharmacies, stationers, or art supply shops, or try making your own dyes by boiling up strong coloured plants and flowers.
6. Crayon Rubbings
Go hunting with your child to find all sorts of treasures you can use to make patterns – leaves, coins, twigs, and even a patch on your driveway! Lay the paper over the top of your treasure, and have your child lightly rub the crayon over the top. The patterns and textures on your treasure will show through like magic.
7. Rainbow Crayons
Instead of throwing away your small broken crayons, make new multi-coloured ones in your oven. Simply put all your broken crayons into muffin tins and bake at 175*C until they are all melted together. Remove the tray from the oven, and the crayons will simply pop out when cold. Old fashioned ginger gem tins create nice square block crayons, and they fit perfectly in little hands. These tins are not made anymore, but I have found several in second hand shops over the years.
Remember you don’t have to constantly provide special craft activities, good old drawing has enormous value. Simply have heaps of paper on hand, and put your crayons in a container where your child can choose colours easily. Encourage your child to draw often, and don’t be disheartened if they seem to race through the paper with apparent scribbles. Scribbling is an important part of their development, and the more they scribble, the closer the next stage becomes.
For heaps more great craft and activity ideas for little ones, check out our Preschoolers activities section.