What's on

Guide to craft - and messy - play!

publication date: Nov 9, 2007
author/source: Anne Coates
Under twos
As soon as your baby is sitting up holding a spoon, he’s ready to hold a fat wax crayon in his fist and make his first delightful squiggles.

Scribbling helps to develop hand-eye co-ordination, just as dipping their fingers into new substances like paint or dough encourages them to explore texture and shape.

Age two to three
Scribbling starts to become more varied and is beginning to move in a circular direction as grip and hand control improve.

Offer a wider range of pencils, crayons, paints and brushes as well as plastic shaped biscuit cutters they can use with dough.  

Age three to four
Children are now involved in drawing patterns and colouring which improves hand muscle control and establishes the correct grip for learning to write.

structured painting activities and printing encourage the child to experiment with colour. Collage and and junk modelling are popular and help them explore shape and size. 

Age four to five
Capable of longer periods of concentration, pre-schoolers will be able to produce more detailed pictures which represent various objects and will enjoy using stencils.

Encourage him to be more adventurous with junk modelling and to pay attention to detail.

Stuck for materials?
  • Make your own finger paints using cornflour and water mixed into a paste and coloured with food dyes.
  • Playdough - use three parts flour to one part salt then add a little cooking oil and enough water to make a dough. Colour with food colouring. Keeps for ages in a plastic bag.
  • Saltdough - mix equal amounts of salt and flour plus oil and water as above. Knead until soft and stretchy. Can be hardened by cooking in the bottom of a low oven but will take a few hours to harden completely. Can be painted. Will keep uncooked in a plastic bag.
  • Keep empty boxes and packets for junk modelling.
  • Collect scraps of fabric and wool, buttons, feathers, cotton wool for making a collage.
  • For a different type of collage use lentils, chick peas and other died pulses plus dry pasta shapes and experiment with sugar, flour, cocoa and rice for different textures.
Some arts and crafts products are clearly marked with an age range. However these are only guidelines. Be guided by your child’s co-ordination and development  maybe he could easily use something designed for an older age range.

Children should always be supervised during arts and crafts activities and you may need to be extra vigilant when you are playing with children of different ages - a four year old may be using something like beads which a younger one might put in her mouth and swallow.

You should also be prepared for different periods of attentiveness - as a child gets older her concentration span increases.