March is National Craft Month and there are so many creative and educational projects to do with your toddlers. Use this month as an opportunity to rediscover your inner child by finger-painting, beading, coloring or drawing with your kids! By using the Play Mat, you can help your child learn to organize crafting materials in the compartments while maintaining the mess on the mat. It makes for ezpz setup and cleanup! Here are a few tips for getting your crafting party started for this national family-time holiday.

Perks: Crafting has so many benefits for children, including improved play skills, cognition, fine motor skills, language and literacy. Crafting can also reduce anxiety, build self-esteem and develop sensory and motor abilities. Finally, research shows that regularly engaging in crafting has tangible health benefits for both you and your kids!

Planning: It’s never too early to start crafting as long as you keep choking hazards in mind and pick crafts that suit your child’s age. This will make your time together more enjoyable and stress-free! When planning a craft day with children, make sure their seating position, table height and lighting are appropriate and comfortable. In addition, adding some music can improve their attention, decrease fatigue and encourage them to stick to the craft for a longer period of time.

Purchase: Unique craft supplies get the creative juices flowing and generate more enthusiasm for any family art project. Consider purchasing supplies like: glitter, fabric, colored tissue, puffy paints, construction paper, beads, washable paints, stickers, googly eyes, Washi tape and pipe cleaners (check out the adorable pipe cleaner ring our model made in this pic!). Of course, you can also use materials that are stocked right at home (e.g., toothpicks, paper plates, popsicle sticks, tissue boxes, straws, baby wipe containers and toilet paper rolls). Food crafts are also a great way to explore textures, smells and novel foods to make edible creations! At the grocery store purchase some extra pasta, cereal, dried fruit and the like for some appetizing craft adventures. Having fun supplies on hand can encourage spontaneous craft projects or save an impromptu toddler play date - whew!

Progressing: Crafting with toddlers is a fun way to progress to crafting with your future school aged children, teens and young adults. I find that when I craft with some of my kids during feeding therapy they tend to open up and talk about things that are bottled up. Focusing on an art project relaxes them and, since we are doing a project together, they know they have my undivided attention. I learned this skill of crafting and communicating from my mom. To this day, when my mom and I have our deep talks, it’s usually during an adult craft project like scrapbooking, coloring, doing a puzzle or painting pottery. But this routine started when I was a toddler. What a great way to open dialogue for a lifetime!

How has crafting helped you connect with your children? What are some of your favorite craft supplies? What crafts will you do during National Craft Month? Has crafting with the Play Mat brought your family less mess and more fun? Send us your comments with the hashtags #playmat #ezpzfun #NationalCraftMonth #toddler.

Happy Feeding!

Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz

Dawn Winkelmann, a.k.a “Ms. Dawn”, has treated thousands of kids across the globe by helping families overcome picky eating stages and food refusals, while adding new foods into their diet. Her high success rate is attributed to Ms. Dawn bringing her education, experience, sense of humor and her favorite feeding products to the family dinner table.

You will find Ms. Dawn’s expert feeding advice to be positive and fun for the entire family! She adapts complicated feeding/swallowing research and makes it practical and easy for parents! Get ready to learn the science behind your favorite feeding products and ways to bring happy family mealtimes back!

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