From amyval ~ What kind of things do you do with a 3-5 year old? My daughter is turning 4 and loves to do crafts but I'm running out of ideas. She's a girl who needs constant "help" (or thinks she does) so what kinds of things could she do while I had some supervision?
From Aimee ~ Kate likes to paint with watercolors. She also likes to do those foam art thingies. They make crowns, door hangers, just tons of stuff and the kids simply put stickers and stuff on them. Kate also likes to make little puppets by coloring/drawing/cutting out people/animals and then taping them onto straws. After she makes the puppets, she puts on a mini puppet show.
From alaskagirl ~ A few things:
Pinecone Birdfeeders - Cover a pinecone with peanut butter, then roll in birdseed and hang from a tree. Macaroni necklaces - Dye macaroni with food coloring if you want. Then run some string (we used dental floss) through the noodles and make a necklace. Food Owls - Glue a pretzel (owl's head) onto a piece of paper. Glue a cheerio in each hole at the top for eyes and a macaroni in the middle for a beak.
From MommyKatie ~ A few things we've done: We made masks out of paper plates. Flowers out of tissue paper. Purses out of paper plates (folded, painted and used pipe cleaners as the strap). Took a foam picture frame and decorated it with foam stickers and a magnet for the fridge. Popsicle stick picture frames colored/painted and magnet on back again. Greeting cards with stamps/stickers. Bead necklaces. I let her go around the house with the digital camera and take pictures and we printed up the good ones and made a collage of her photos (most were pics of her dolls and the kitty and her sister). We also finger paint, sidewalk chalk art outside and bake cookies/pies.
From Quoth ~ If she feels she needs help, why not try a child led activity instead of making "a something". When I was at college, they constantly reminded us the learning and the fun is in the process, not the end product. Let her get creative. Junk modeling is ideal; collect kitchen roll tubes and loads of different shapes and sizes of boxes (soap and stock cube sized ones are ideal for adding to cereal boxes). Plastic lids from milk bottles, anything you have. Charlie will spend ages choosing what she wants and where it goes. Once it's dry, she can paint it. Add some PVA glue to the paint so that it adheres to the surface of the boxes. No, it doesn't resemble anything in my eyes but she's enjoyed doing it independently and learned to experiment and explore with different media and techniques, what works and what doesn't. They get more out of finding out for themselves than from us telling them why it works or doesn't. Charlie loves printing with junk too; I put the paint in paper plates for easy clean up, then provide a variety of boxes, yoghurt pots, a plastic pot scourer, kitchen roll tubes etc for her to print with. Think shape and texture, what would make an interesting print? Try cheap plastic cars for painting tyre tracks, or make roller ball pictures by rolling a ball in paint and dropping it in a tray lined with paper. These are things that don't require adult help once it's set up; they don't need guidance in placing things in the right way or right place for it to resemble a picture in a book or online. Structured activities are great for learning to follow instructions but it's good to balance it out with child led activities to let them take charge and get creative.
From ErinFiat ~ My kids have recently become stamp-a-holics. I had a new set out the other day and a few new inks...they went nuts. DS is especially fond of the scrubby. DH mentioned that if this is a family activity, the family budget could help with stamps (since up to this point, it's been business profit and my spending money). Uhm yeah!!! I think, since we're working on letters, I could probably justify the grins and giggles font.
From Quoth ~ Other activities you can let them get on with once you've set up: String painting - again, paper plates with paint in, drop the string in then drop it on paper to make wiggly patterns. When we do a mini beasts theme in nursery we use brown paper and pink paint to make worms. Collage - I have a big tupperware type tub filled with scraps of material, wool, wrapping ribbon, tissue paper, sequins, buttons, coloured straws cut up, those wee foam shapes, coloured craft matchsticks, mini pom poms etc. Charlie spends ages glueing them on paper to make a collage picture. When I'm not busy I'll sit with her as she cuts up bits of paper, straws and ribbon to restock the box. Use natural things in collage to explore texture and properties of materials. Try sawdust and curly woodshavings (for pets cages), bark chips, and leaves. Or use different pasta shapes, lentils, peas, popcorn kernels, beans etc. Depending on the age and stage of your child it might require supervision though if you think they're liable to stick it up their nose or in their mouths.
From Amber ~ My daughter will be turning 3 in a week. Some of the things we do are : I'll write something (her name, etc) out in glue and let her glue kix, beans, whatever onto it and let it dry and hang it up in her room. I'll let her paint on construction paper or paper plates with her hands or a paint brush. Sidewalk chalk is also a big thing with her. I trace her hand onto paper, cut it out, then let her draw on it and glue it on construction paper, or even glue it into the inside of greeting cards from her.