By Shelly Radic
Finger painting, play clay sculptures, sock puppets, and even simple coloring sheets are welcome additions to any birthday party. Craft activities like these entertain while providing opportunities for side-by-side play, creative expression, and exploration.
Craft activities delight throughout the party. Experienced party planners recommend starting the party on a creative note by engaging guests in a craft activity as they arrive. As their projects take shape, guests have the opportunity to meet each other and become comfortable with the party environment. Including a craft activity in the middle of a party offers a nice change of pace from high-energy games. Quiet craft activities can calm children, helping prevent chaos and tears. Art projects also provide a good transition activity before eating or opening gifts. Best of all, the masterpieces guests create can be taken home as a treasured reminder of the party.
Tips for managing art activities:
Chose simple art activities the birthday child enjoys.
Have the birthday child make a prototype several days before the party. This ensures that glue sticks properly, paint will adhere to surfaces, and little hands can manipulate art materials without frustration.
Chose projects that can be completed in a variety of ways.
With larger parties (six or more guests), separate the guests into two or more groups with 3-4 children in each group. Assign an adult or teen-age helper to each group so children can receive more individualized attention.
Purchase “oops” supplies so children can start over if necessary.
Provide several sets of needed craft tools (scissors, glue, markers, glitter) so multiple guests can work at the same time. When borrowing craft tools, mark the owner’s name on each tool for easy return.
When planning multiple crafts, organize an “art center” for each activity. Place all materials for that activity in a box on the table. Place the prototype example and a set of directions on the table so guests and helpers understand what to do.
Create individual kits for each guest. Place kits in plastic zip loc bags with child’s name. When the project is complete, place it back in or on top of the bag for easy identification.
Use plastic disposable tablecloths, old sheets, or paint drop clothes on top of and underneath activity areas.
For messy crafts, keep a bowl of damp paper towels or pre-moistened towelettes nearby for cleaning sticky fingers and faces.
- Ask guests to wear old clothes or bring an art smock or oversized t-shirt to keep clothes clean. Have a few extras on hand in case someone forgets.
Craft Activities for Preschoolers:
- Coloring sheets
- Finger painting
- Mural painting
- Painting t-shirts, hats, shoes, pillow cases, light switch covers, tote bags, or rocks
- Jewelry making with macaroni, large beads, shrink plastic, marshmallows, cereal, licorice, or other candy
- Play clay sculptures
- Mosaics with torn paper, natural materials, or colored pasta
- Rubber stamp projects
- Puppets from paper plates, paper bags, socks, gloves, or paint sticks
- Frames for artwork
For more ideas on how to incorporate crafts into your preschoolers next birthday party, check out Shelly's ideas for an Arty Party!