Arts and crafts are great fun. Children love the creativity and imagination art requires, and getting a little bit messy is always a welcome change to sitting quietly! But, not all arts and crafts are suitable for all ages. Here are a handful of ideas you can try in the classroom or at home, chosen specifically to work towards or make the best use of key milestones in a child’s development.
From birth to the age of five, children are in the ‘early years’ stage. Of course, the types of craft activities they’ll be able to carry out are going to vary wildly at either end of this age range, so let’s focus on arts and craft ideas that are suitable for toddlers. Art and craft activities at this stage are all about encouraging creativity, exposing children to new textures, shapes, colours and materials, and developing their fine motor skills.
Print making (i.e. dipping a child’s hands or feet in paint to press gently on a page) is an excellent craft for this age group. Dip a child’s hands into different coloured paints, assisting them to press their hands onto a ‘tree’ of handprints (to make an autumn craft), or a ‘bouquet’ of handprints (for a spring-time craft). Older children will enjoy drawing and painting things from their own imaginations too, so ensure children have finger paints, paper, pens and pencils and other pieces of stationery, stocking up on materials from an educational supplier such as this one.
Key stage 1
Aged five to seven, children are more dexterous and have a stronger understanding of concepts. So, take advantage of this by getting them involved in arts and craft activities that require them to make a piece of art that resembles something else. For instance, children could make collages using a variety of materials, gluing and sticking things onto a page to make a scene or image.
Alternatively, weaving a placemat (using strips of paper) will make good use of their strengthened motor skills, and you can challenge children at the older end of this age range to fold the card and cut the paper into strips to make the craft a little bit more challenging.
Key stage 2
In key stage two, children are aged eight to eleven. At this stage, arts and craft activities can be far more challenging, and in fact the national curriculum requires that children use a wide range of materials to actually design and make art. So, why not encourage children to have a go at sculpting? Give each child a piece of clay or salt dough and tie the lesson plan into something they’ve been exploring in another subject, such as Ancient Egyptian history.
For instance, you could ask children to make ‘cartouches’ (an Egyptian hieroglyph that resembles a modern day name plate). This will require skills such as rolling, cutting, twisting and moulding. Once baked and cooled, children can carefully paint their cartouches using this guide to write their own name, finishing the final piece with a coat of varnish.
There are many art and craft ideas online, so search by activities that are suitable for children of particular ages and see what inspires you.