8 Easy Educational Crafts for 2-Year-Olds
Your 2-year-old may not be in school yet, but these crafts improve growth and development, teach important skills, and help her reach milestones.
Two-year-olds develop quickly both cognitively and physically, according to Laura Phillips, PsyD, ABPdN, clinical neuropsychologist at the Learning and Development Center for the Child Mind Institute. Certain projects can further improve growth and development, helping your child reach milestones quicker.
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“The content and materials of arts and crafts are helpful in fostering the development of specific motor, cognitive, linguistic, and pre-academic skills,” says Phillips. “They also allow for the interpersonal exchanges that are critical for brain development, lifelong learning, and social-emotional competence.”
Here are eight arts and crafts for 2-year-olds to do at home. It’s important to remember, though, that two-year-olds aren't fully independent, so your child might act frustrated or uninterested with crafts. Even so, “presenting your child with tasks that are a little bit challenging, but still within his ‘zone of proximal development’ (within the realm of what he can do with some support) helps to nurture frustration tolerance, perseverance, problem-solving, and secure attachment,” says Phillips.
One-year-olds thrive with finger painting, but two-year olds have better fine motor dexterity and coordination. This enables them to “scribble and draw simple strokes with a crayon,” says Phillips. Consider offering different canvases besides paper—such as cardboard, paper plates, or grooved wood—for an added textural experience.
“Improvements in perceptual skills, problem-solving, and frustration tolerance—along with developing conceptualization capacity—mean that 2-year-olds are more capable of matching objects,” says Phillips. Here’s an example of a matching craft: Lay out different stickers, and have your child pick out all of the red ones. Then she can stick them onto a piece of paper for a red-themed collage.
As your child makes dots with these jumbo-sized markers, you can teach her how to count. (“Let’s make four dots on this page! One, two, three, four.”) Here’s an added bonus with these 2-year-old crafts: “You may also notice that your toddler starts to use one hand more often than the other, hinting at the establishment of hand dominance,” says Phillips.
To teach color matching, help your child combine paints in different colors (for example, mix red and blue to make purple paint). Talk through the steps to enhance communication and linguistic skills. Your child can also make artwork with his new shades; using a paintbrush encourages fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and visual judgement.
Sidewalk chalk has plenty of benefits: it gets kids outside, improves fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and encourages creativity. It also offers a nice break from other drawing supplies like crayons and pencils.
Want to develop extra strength in your child’s fingers and hands? Swap your paint brushes for little pipettes! Your child can fill the dropper with paint, hold it above his canvas, and release the contents slowly. The end result will be abstract artwork that’s perfect for hanging on the fridge!
Not only do collages improve fine motor skills, they also teach cause-and-effect relationships and encourage self-expression. Start by cutting paper into strips; a 2-year-old child is probably too young for scissors. Gather the strips in a bin, set out child-safe glue, and demonstrate how to paste the items onto a surface. By following your actions, your child will learn communication skills and imitation.
While your 2-year-old can’t trace difficult letters and shapes, she might be able to trace basic lines. Draw some straight, zig-zagged, and curved lines on a sheet of paper. Hold your child’s hand and trace them together; eventually she’ll be able to follow the guidelines herself. This craft exercises her hands and her brain!