Crafting has many developmental benefits for children, and for that reason I often use crafts in my feeding and speech therapy sessions. Crafting can reduce anxiety, build self-esteem and develop sensory abilities that can carry over to mealtime. Crafting can also help a child improve their fine motor and feeding skills.
When I introduce a new craft activity, I like to use the ezpz Play Mat. Like all of ezpz’s mat-based products, the Play Mat suctions to the table – making it difficult for “crafting” hands to tip over their paints or crayons. This mat also has flower petal compartments + a high lip that captures water, paint and other crafting materials. Here are two craft ideas I recommend for building developmental skills.
Broken Crayon Rainbow Craft
- Materials: Paper + broken crayons
- Directions: Take all of those broken crayons you have around the house and place them in the flower section of the Play Mat (see picture). Place an 8 x 11 piece of paper on the side of the Play Mat. Have your child pick a color of the rainbow and draw an arch to begin their rainbow pattern. You will notice that the edges of the mat help hold the paper in place, making these motor patterns more successful and fun! Have your child continue to repeat the arch with additional colors of the rainbow. This craft fosters a repetitive pattern that will help strengthen their tripod grasp.
- Developmental Skill: Did you know that broken crayons are the perfect size for facilitating a tripod grasp? A tripod grasp is when a child presses their thumb with the tips of the index and middle fingers in order to successfully hold a writing utensil. To practice this grasp with precise placement, I use broken crayons so there is no room for their little fingers to roam (which can lead to incorrect grasping habits). The tripod grasp is generally referred to as the ‘correct grasp’ for holding a pencil, pen or crayon, although there are several functional grasps out there that may work better for some children.
Broccoli Spring Tree Craft
- Materials: Paper, fresh broccoli, brown marker + paint
- Directions: Take a head of broccoli and break it up into pieces about the size of a broken crayon. Prepare for your child to use the broccoli spear + floret as a novel type of paint brush! The short stem is for your child to hold (practicing their tripod grasp) and the floret will be the brush (or stamp) for painting. Fill the outside flower compartments of the Play Mat with 5 spring colors (I use yellow, pink, purple, pastel blue and sage green) and pour water into the middle section. Your child can use the water to clean off their broccoli brush when choosing a new paint color. Using a brown marker on an 8 x 11 piece of paper, have your child draw a tree with branches. Then have them dip the broccoli into paint and place it on the paper to create spring leaves on the tree!
- Developmental Skill: Did you know that positive exposure to a new food during crafting and sensory play may increase the chance that your child will eat it? Exposing your kiddos to vegetables through crafting is a great way to encourage healthy eating without any social pressure at mealtime. And you don’t have to use the Play Mat just for crafts, it can be used at snack time too! Fill the center section with a dip and place veggies in the petal compartments to make an adorable and fun snacking station!
The ezpz Play Mat creates a crafting space in your home that keeps the mess and chaos contained. The key to making craft activities successful for the whole family is to make them fun, but also easy to clean up! #NationalCraftMonth #NationalCrayonDay #ezpzfun
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).