I've gathered these craft ideas from various places. Most of them I've used, others however I've received from friends who tried and tested them. All were fun and a learning experience in their own way. Click on the ideas below for descriptions of the craft.

See also:  Painting Ideas for Young Preschoolers

              Collage Ideas for Young Preschoolers

              Seasonal Ideas for Young Preschoolers

              Miscellaneous Ideas for Young Preschoolers


Preserving Leaves w/ Glycerin: Mix one part glycerin to two parts water. Pour mixture in a a pan and submerge leaves (weigh leaves down with rocks).  Leave submerged for 2-6 days, the leaves will be soft and well preserved. 

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Treasure Rocks:  

    1 cup used coffee grounds

    1/4 cup sand

    1/2 cup salt

    1 cup flour

    1 cup water 

    Stir ingredients together until stiff dough forms; add more flour if necessary.  Shape into balls. Make hole in ball, insert "treasure" (small toy) in hole. Smooth over hole. Air dry for two days or place in 150F oven for 20 minutes. Break open and find treasure.  This is a great idea for a party. 

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Butterfly Masks: 

    picture (or hand drawing) of butterfly large enough to cover most of child's face 

    pipe cleaners (usually two are needed)

    markers, crayons or other materials to decorate masks

    scissors

    cardboard (an old cereal box works well)

    glue

    Allow child to decorate picture of butterfly with markers, crayons or other craft materials. Glue decorated mask to cardboard and allow to dry. Cut out shape of butterfly with cardboard glued to the back of it. Cut out eye holes for child. Punch holes in side of mask; feed pipe cleaners through holes to make strap to hold mask on child's face. Additional pipe cleaners can be used for antenna on mask or make Butterfly Antenna (below). 

See also: Butterfly Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Butterfly Antenna:

    2 pipe cleaners

    2 medium to large pom-pons

    1 inexpensive plastic headband (come in packages of 3-6 for several dollars)

    Wind one end of pipe cleaners around middle of pom-pon several times and secure by twisting pipe cleaner around itself. Wind other end of pipe cleaner around headband, approximately 1-2 inches off center, several times and secure by twisting. Repeat process with second pipe cleaner. Wear and have fun. 

See also: Butterfly Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Rocket:

    1 paper towel tube

       construction paper (about a half sheet)

       old pieces of curly ribbon in orange, red, yellow and/or white

       scissors

       glue

       clear tape

    Cut a circle with a 8cm diameter from construction paper. I use the inside of a masking tape roll; it's just a bit smaller than 8cm. The larger the circle, the more pointy the rocket's nose cone. Cut a slit from one side of the circle to the center of the circle. Overlap the two sides of the slit, forming a cone shape, until it is slightly larger than the paper towel tube. Secure the ends with a piece of clear tape. Place a bead of glue around the top of the paper towel tube; fit the nose cone on the glued end.  (Note: it will take a while for the glue to dry, so plan an activity for the child after making the rockets to allow the glue to dry.) 

    Cut three (3) fins for the rocket. For the shape, I use a shape roughly described as half a trapezoid, 6.5cm wide by 7cm high, with the top corner rounded. See a scanned image here. Fold 1cm of the side measuring 7cm back on each fin.  Apply glue to the 1cm fold and stick to bottom of paper towel tube. 

    Cut curly ribbon into 15-20cm long pieces. Attach to the inside of the bottom of the tube with clear tape to form "fire" coming from the bottom of the rocket.

    Allow creation to dry, then "Zoom Test" it. 

    Note: For an extra-fancy rocket, allow child to paint paper towel tube before gluing nose cone and fins. 

See also: Space Craft Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Horse's Tail

      yarn

      something to wrap yarn around depending on how long you want the tail; I use the shorter distance of a photo album

     Wrap yarn around album 20-30 times, leaving 15cm  (6") extra on the starting end (of the first wrap) and the final end (of the last wrap).  Carefully remove wrapped yarn from album. Tie 15cm extra ends together around the yarn loops to keep the loops together. Secure it tightly. Cut the loops of yarn about 5cm (2") from where the loops are tied together being careful not to pull on the yarn (this is great practice for little ones just learning how to use scissors). Take one of the cut loops and wrap it around the 5cm ends securing them. When at the end, tie it off with one of the 15cm pieces; then tie it to the other 15cm piece. Tuck tail into back of pants and you're a horse! For more fun, cut felt or construction paper pieces in the shape of ears and attach to head band or hat to make horse's ears. 

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Noah's Ark

    2 thin paper plates

    magazines with animal pictures

    scissors

    stapler

    construction paper

    glue

    Stack paper plates together. Demonstrate to child how to staple the edges together. Staple around the whole circle. Cut paper plate in half and set aside. Cut construction paper to fit into pocked made by the two paper plates. Cut (or tear) pictures of animals from magazine. Glue to construction paper (it makes less mess if one side is done at a time). Once glue is mostly dry, place construction paper with animal pictures inside paper plate pocket and you have Noah's Ark. 

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Puzzle Piece Picture Frame

    simple wooden picture frame w/ flat molding

    sand paper

    jigsaw puzzle  pieces

    glue (I use scrapbooking glue)

    When selecting puzzle pieces, choose ones with a color you want to highlight. If you plan to supply a photo for the frame, select a color that complements the photo nicely. If surface of picture frame is smooth, sand before beginning. Spread glue liberally over one of the four sides of the frame. Place puzzle pieces on glued side, making sure pieces are close together. Apply glue to each of remaining three sides and apply puzzle pieces. Repeat process for 2-3 more layers until wooden frame is well covered. Lie flat to dry for at least a day.  

    Variation:

    replace picture frame with a frame made from scrapbooking cardstock.

    Apply glue and puzzle pieces in same manner. It takes at least three layers to make the cardstock sufficiently stiff. This method works well if the frame will be hung on an office-type partition. For a sample of the finished product look here.   

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Foam Picture Frame

    colored sheet of craft foam, large enough to accommodate photo plus at least 3cm border

    foam shapes (I find a bucket of various shapes & colors at the discount store for $6)

    exacto knife

    2 - 3cm magnet strips OR wooden picture frame with a plane surface

    glue

Before presenting the craft to the child(ren). Cut sheet of craft foam into a frame. Smaller frames, for 3x5 or 4x6 photos, work best. This is most easily done with an exacto knife by an adult. If there is some theme involved (holiday, color, shape, animal, etc.) sort appropriate foam pieces for theme. Each frame will take as many as 20-30 shapes depending on size and inspiration. 

Allow child to apply glue to foam pieces and place on foam frame. When finished, allow frame to dry. Apply magnet strips to back of frame, supply photo and use on refrigerator or other metallic surface. If using picture frame, you may need to sand it to properly prepare the surface. Once foam frame is dry, apply glue to prepared picture frame and glue foam frame to it.   

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 Paper Noise Maker 

    standard 8.5 x 11 piece of paper 

    scissors

    cellophane tape

    pencil -- new, unsharpened one works best

Starting from one corner of the paper, roll the paper around the pencil until the whole paper is rolled around the pencil. Secure corner with a piece of tape. Lift paper and allow pencil to fall out. On one end of the rolled paper, cut the slanted end straight across with the scissors. On the same end, make a diagonal cut 1-2cm below the straight across cut; this cut should only cut 3/4 of the way through. Straighten out the flat of paper left attached. It should be the shape of an arrow (triangular). Bend the triangular flap over the end of the tube. Place the end with the flap in your mouth; do not touch the flap with your tongue. Blow to make noise. Experiment with blowing to make lower and higher pitch noises.  

See also: General Music Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Kazoo

    paper towel or toilet paper tube

    rubber band of the size to fit over end of tube

    square of wax paper of a size to fit over end of tube

        allow 3cm extra to secure with rubber band

    white glue (optional, this will hold the wax paper more securely)

    markers or paint to decorate tube

Decorate tube with markers or paint. Apply ring of glue around one end of the tube 1cm from the end of the tube. Place wax paper square over (glued) end of tube; secure with rubber band. When child hums into open end of tube the wax paper vibrates to make the kazoo sound. Experiment humming different sounds into kazoo. Make kazoos with different length tubes and compare the sounds.  

See also: General Music Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Turtle "Tambourine" - really more of a rattle

    two paper plates

    handful of beans, lentils, rice or macaroni

    stapler

    green construction paper

    markers

    scissors

Cut turtle leg shapes (trapezoids work well) and a head shape (circle w/ a long neck) from green construction paper. Allow child to decorate bottom of both paper plates; the will be the shell of the turtle. Place paper plates together, decorated sides out, insides together to form "tambourine". Staple together inserting legs as appropriate. Leave the neck area unstapled. Place handful of beans/lentils/rice/macaroni in to turtle body and staple the rest of the paper plates together, inserting neck and head where appropriate.  

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Jelly #1 (aka Jellyfish) - the creation of my three year-old!

bell shaped clear plastic container (a 1lb deli container works well)

assorted colors of yarn and/or curling ribbon

scissors

clear double-sided tape

Supervise child as they cut yarn and/or ribbon into long pieces for the tentacles. Apply double-sided tape to the inside rim of the clear plastic container (I found I needed to do this myself, it was just too much for my three year-old). Stick yarn and/or ribbon to the outward sticky side of the tape. Have fun. My three year-old particularly enjoyed dancing and twirling with his jellyfish. For photographs click here

See also: Ocean Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

Jelly/Jellyfish Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Snake Sock 

white tube sock

markers

craft eyes

super glue

red felt (approx 3" x 1")

Allow the child to decorate the white tube sock snake with the markers. Supervise the child as they cut a snake tongue from the red felt. Super glue craft eyes to "top" of toe end of snake. Super glue tongue where the sock will naturally fit in the child's hand (think puppet). Play.  

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Jelly #2 (aka Jellyfish)

small white plastic trash bag

newspaper

rubber band

wax paper

white paper

scissors

crayons

tape or glue

Crumple and stuff newspaper into small white plastic trash bag. When full, secure with rubber band. Pull wax paper into long sheets (2.5-3 feet). Cut wax paper into strips about 2" wide (and 2.5-3' long). These are the tentacles. Slip one end of wax paper tentacles under a loop of the rubber band to secure. Draw several simple fish shapes on the white paper and cut out. Decorate with crayons. Glue or tape fish to tentacles. These tend to be rather large jellies and kids love 'em.

See also: Ocean Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

Jelly/Jellyfish Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Sea Star (aka Starfish)

white paper

crayons

brad

scissors

paint/markers

sand

Draw simple starfish shape on paper. Provide paints or marker for child to decorate sea star. While paint is still dry, sprinkle sand on wet paint to create bumpy texture. When paint is dry, have child cut sea star out using scissors. Cut one arm of the sea star off where it attaches to the body of the sea star. Poke small hole in the arm and the body of the sea star near where the leg should attach. Assist child in feeding brad first through the body and then the arm and secure. The arm should be able to rotate and "hide" behind the body of the sea star. If sea stars lose a leg, they can grow another, just like this craft.  

See also: Ocean Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Butterfly Window Ornament

clear contact paper

assorted colors of tissue paper (optionally cut /tearinto shapes or allow child to do this w/ scissors or by tearing)

yarn

single hole punch

cellophane tape

Cut clear contact paper into butterfly shape or draw butterfly outline on contact paper and allow child to cut out butterfly shape. Remove backing from butterfly shape and show child how to decorate by sticking pieces of cut/torn tissue paper. For best results, encourage child to cover all of sticky part of the contact paper. Trim edges of tissue paper overhanging butterfly shape if desired. Assist child in punching hole in "body" of butterfly. Thread six inch piece of yarn through hole and tie ends together to form a loop. Hang from sunny window using tape.

See also: Butterfly Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Scaly Fish

11x17 poster board in desired color(s)

clear contact paper

large sequins in desired color(s)

scissors

glue

Draw a rough outline of a fish on the poster board. Draw an oval/circle in the inside of the body of the fish approximately 2" from the edge of the fish. Assist the child in cutting the fish shape from the poster board. Then help child cut oval/circle from middle of fish. You should now have a fish with a large hole in the middle and a 2" border all around. Cut two pieces of contact paper approximately 1" larger than the hole and fix to one side of the fish. Decorate sticky contact paper with colored sequins. When finished decorating, place other piece of contact paper over hole to seal sequins. If desired use glue to decorate 2" frame with more sequins.  

See also: Ocean Resource Study Sheet (unit study resources)

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Rainbow

white paper towel (dry)

red, blue and yellow food colors (liquid)

cookie sheet or other water-tight tray

1/4 c water

painting shirt or smock

Lay paper towel on tray. Help child to drip about 6 drops of each color on "random" parts of the towel. Allow the child to pour 1/4 cup of water on the paper towel. Help child to tip the cookie sheet from side to side and watch as the colors blend. When satisfied with the pretty colors, pour off excess water from a corner of the cookie sheet. Allow creation to dry either flat on cookie sheet, or on a drying line.

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