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Crafting with Kiddos

As a mama, I love to encourage my children to be creative, both through crafts and in the kitchen.  Lisa is looking for some ideas of activities to do with her new two year old child:

My husband and I are adopting a two year old boy that we brought home about a month ago.  I am hoping to get advise from other moms about good activities for two year olds.  We read tons of books, paint/color, play in the sand box, go to the park etc.  I am looking for some more indoor craft activities that give us a chance for a lot of interaction.  Also, he loves to help out in the kitchen so any fun recipe ideas would be great.

Img_6073_1 My recommendation for cooking would be to try easy baking things.   I like to let my little guy help mix up biscuits or pancake batter.  Playing with dough is fun for them, as is cutting out the shapes (making biscuits  - or scones! a winner in my house).  We also do crafts that involve multi-media type art, combining coloring, painting, and stickers all at once.  For recipes, you might check your nearest library for books that have kid-friendly recipes in them.  I have one that has a great pretzel recipe where the pretzels are to be shaped like letters.  We made one for each person in the family with their first initial (of course with M for Mama!).  Anyone else have some great successes in the indoor activity department?

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Playdough! with cars... my son likes to roll his cars in the dough and pretty much envelop the cars with the playdough, kind of like the cult movie, The Blob.
Trains are big hit. Putting together tracks and playing with the trains (don't forget sound effects) could go on for hours.
The larger legos are wonderful, too. Two-year-olds can manipulate the larger legos or mega blocks easier than the smaller legos, which will come later as their fine motor skills get more developed. Bristle blocks are great too. Pop-onz is another brand. Basically, anything to build with.
Oh, and my son loved those wood "puzzles" that have magnets on the tops of the pieces. You use a tool/stick that has a string on it with a magnet at the end, to get the pieces out of the board.
Kid bowling sets... you can make those out of empty water bottles, too.
Indoor basketball hoop (little tykes, I think is the brand).
Cars, cars and more cars. Oh, and trucks! haha My parents gave our son the Fisher Price Little People Garage for his second birthday, and he was in seventh heaven for over a year. We would have make-believe play with that all the time.

I know those ideas weren't crafts, but my son would sit still for crafts for a limited time, then want to roll stuff. I love all the cooking ideas, because that's where he had a lot of fun mixing or rolling stuff. Basically getting his hands (and face and hair and EVERYTHING) as messy as possible. It's tons of fun to watch. He giggles and giggles.

I havent had the guts to get out the really messy crafts at home yet, but that's a big reason why we love Portland Parks & Rec...most Friday mornings you can find us at the Indoor Play Gym, followed by "Art Park". Play gym is 50 cents and art park is a dollar--well worth it, especially when you dont have to clean up! One of Anders' favorite art projects there is the spin art--they have an old salad spinner and paper cut in circles to fit inside, the kids squirt paint on the paper and then spin it around inside the spinner, and finish it off with glitter--it's a hit every time! They've also made "placemats" with contact paper filled with scraps of paper and drawings, and they usually have play-do and stamps, which all the kids enjoy too.

Congrats and enjoy the new addition to your family!

If you're looking for crafting ideas, head to SCRAP in North Portland for cheap, recycled materials. My guy isn't big enough for crafts yet, but I loved making sand bottles, rock art etc. when I was a kid. He might be too young still though. You could get some mat board and stickers and have him make his own picture frame, then pick out his favorite picture.

check out the book "montessori from the start: the child at home from birth to age three" by paula lillard and lynn lillard jessen. it's all about making your home a happy and friendly place for the little ones. It includes ideas for real life projects (home crafts, cooking, gardening, building, life skills, etc.) and integrating young people into your home.

ok this isn't a crafts but we would build castles, forts, and treehouses out of sheets and blankets. Toddlers love imageary play. Another thing, my mom would do in the kitchen is make ants on a log. good luck. cam

NoPo Mama which community center in N. PDX has art park? That sounds like a great activity for my son!

Mychelle -- I think Art Park happens at Peninsula Community Center? Not sure if that's the one that NoPo Mama goes to, but I know Peninsula definitely has the Indoor Play Gym.

Here is info on the community center:
http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewPark&PropertyID=1124&c=38308

I love doing crafts with my 2 boys who are ages 4 & 2. For Christmas I asked for all kinds of craft materials. So we have construction paper, butcher paper (great for paintings & drawings), beads, paint, foam, tissue paper, google eyes, paper bags, feathers, pipe cleaners, etc. You can get a lot from the dollar store. Then I visit a couple of websites:
http://familyfun.go.com/
http://www.dltk-kids.com/
http://www.signingtime.com/article_info.php?articles_id=21
There are some really great craft ideas on the websites. But sometimes the simplest things can be the most fun for them. Gluing rice or beans on construction paper, painting pictures on paper plates, cutting a sponge up and attaching a clothespin so they can sponge paint, making noisemakers from empty toilet paper rolls and rice or beans. Endless possibilities for creative fun. Oh, and check out Michaels craft store or Joann Fabrics for their $1 bins. Sometimes there are some really great crafts there. Have fun!

Keep up the good work! Bringing him into the kitchen is a fantastic idea that will help him develop good eating habits as he grows older. Instead of focusing on just "kid recipes", have him help you with some simple steps on any recipe... Even recipes that you are making for the family meal have something he can help you do.

Have him help to rinse veggies or lettuce in the sink (with extra towels on hand, of course)
Have him break string beans into smaller pieces.
He can help you tear up lettuce into smaller sizes for salads

I teach healthy cooking classes for kids, and recently posted an article about cooking with kids on my brand new blog...
http://whatscookingblog.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/cooking-with-kids-101ages-5-and-under/

Happy Cooking!

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