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Crafty Mom: Back-to-school crafts

Our new crafty mom suggests four back-to-school crafts for toddlers to teens.

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Macy plays with bananas
Amber Watson
Editor's Note: We have a new crafty mom. She's Amber Watson, the stay-at-home mom of a six-month-old who will be seeking out the best crafts for kids of all ages.

Now that the kids are getting back into the school routine, why not throw in some educational crafts and activities for weekend fun?

  • Language Magnets
This first activity promotes language development in children who are not yet talking, but this is also a great learning tool for children who are talking! Thanks to Play At Home Mom for this.
All you need are magnet sheets, which can be purchased at Office Max, a computer and printer. How easy is that? Search online for pictures of various items found in and outside of the house, copy and paste them into a Word document, add text, print and cut them out!
Stick to the refrigerator and let the children explore the words and pictures. Older children will enjoy categorizing the pictures or sorting them into groups, while younger babies benefit from hearing you talk about each picture. Use the magnets to let your children pick out their favorite foods, or help you decide what to cook for dinner.
  • Body Art
While most parents will laugh at the fact that having their toddler play around in paint or shaving cream is educational and engaging, there has been loads of research to prove otherwise. Sensory art is crucial for brain development. Children learn best when they have the opportunity to experiment with all their senses. This next activity may be a bit messy, but trust me, your child is benefiting! Thanks to the Toddler Times for this one.
All you need is tempera paint, brushes and your child! And unless you don’t mind art on the walls and carpet, take this one outside. Toddlers will love painting their body and exploring all their senses. Walk them through each body part they are painting. Have them mix colors to make new ones. I will admit I don’t have the courage to try this yet with my six-month-old, so we did a remix and used bananas and food coloring instead! She thoroughly enjoyed mashing bananas between her toes as we talked about toes and feet.
  • DIY Locker Pencil Holder
This next project takes almost no time to make and will bring a little fun to those back-to-school jitters.
You will need a clean, empty tin can, decorated or color cellophane, tape, glue gun, alphabet beads and/or embellishments, and five button magnets. Wrap cellophane around the can and trim, then tape to secure. Hot glue button magnets along the back of the can. Decorate with embellishments or beads. Now, you have a quick and easy DIY pencil holder for a school locker. While you’re at it, make one for the refrigerator too!
  • CD Bowls
Parent supervision required. You will need an old or unwanted CD, aluminum foil, cookie sheet and decorations. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Use more foil to make a small ball which will be used as a mold for the bowl (a good size ball is about 2 inches wide and 3 inches high). Make sure the ball is large enough so that when the CD melts, the edges don’t touch the cookie sheet. Place the foil balls on the cookie sheet lined with foil and place a CD on top of the ball. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and watch closely. It should take about 10 minutes for the CD to fold down around the ball. Allow time for the CD to cool and harden, then decorate! Makes a great paper clip holder!

Having the kids back in school may be a relief, but enjoy the time that they are home. They grow too fast. Most importantly, have fun!

Who is Amber? I am a stay at home mom of a lively 6 month old, Macy, a full time graduate student at NC State, and a part-time photographer. My husband and I moved from Hickory to Raleigh four years ago while I was getting my Bachelor’s degree. We got married my senior year in college and adopted two beagles. We desperately tried for children right after our wedding, but fertility issues stood in the way. Having children was almost impossible for us. Miraculously, almost a year to the day of our wedding, we found out we were pregnant. Our little angel is literally a miracle and has blessed our lives more than we could ever imagine. We recently moved to Garner after purchasing our first home and have finally settled down in our little piece of country. A dear friend has inspired me to adopt positive parenting and play-based learning, which has, in turn, brought out the crafty and creative mom in me. I look forward to bringing you loads of activities and ideas to inspire, educate and empower you and your family!

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