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messy, sticky fun: arts and crafts ideas for young artists

Crafts are often only talked about as rainy day activities, but they're so much more than that! While arty games are great at keeping little hands busy, they also help your child develop motor skills and think creatively (double win). What's more, parents need to get stuck in to show baby how it's done – so don your apron, unleash the glitter and get to work!

Things are about to get messy, so make sure you’re prepared. Cover floors and tables with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth and invest in some painting smocks (or save your old shirts) to keep stains to a minimum.

To help inspire you and your little creator, here are a few of my favourite arts and crafts ideas for kids.

Aria getting creative with collage

age one


At this time, play is all about introducing your baby to new and exciting textures and colours. As much as you try and stop them, you just know paint and glue are going to end up in little mouths, so check they’re non-toxic before you buy. Small pieces are a no-go too, so stick to activities for one-year-olds that don’t have any beads or buttons.

Hand and finger painting allow baby to spread, smudge and imprint colour without having to hold a paint brush. They also make lovely keepsakes for the front of your fridge.

age two


Pick two-year-old development activities that challenge their newly found motor skills. Drawing starts to get fun at this age: now your little one can hold a crayon with their fingers rather than a fist. Grab a stack of children’s magazines to make a collage and let them wield a glue stick and child-friendly scissors for some serious cutting and sticking.

If little wrigglers can’t sit still for five minutes, try making an interactive toy – the noisier the better. Help them fill an empty bottle with rice and dried beans to make a shaker for music time.

age three


Now your toddler will start noticing the little details of life around them. Look to your house and garden to inspire arts and crafts to do at home. Pebble painting is the perfect way for your avid explorer to create their very own pet ladybird, butterfly or bee.

Stamps make a great excuse to smash and bang – cut some tree and animal shapes out of potatoes and pop coloured paints in bowls for dipping. Every landscape at this age is a masterpiece – just a little on the abstract side.

age four


By the time they're ready for school, your child’s imagination is developing at lightning speed. Try activities for four-year-olds that include creating props like masks or crowns they can make a game out of.

Get creative with bits and bobs from around the house and garden, like leaves, feathers and dried pasta. They’ll need some craft glue to secure it all together (warning: things might get sticky).

Once everyone is scrubbed clean and their designs are dry, let your young artists loose to play with their props. Whether they get discarded after an hour or stuck to the fridge for weeks, it's all part of the fun of arts and crafts.

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