Doing anything with preschoolers and kindergartners can be a chore – but hosting an arts and crafts afternoon for a group of them? Well, that could be a recipe for disaster. Never fear though, we just hosted a super fun “crafternoon” (as I like to call it) for my youngest daughter and four of her friends, and I can’t wait to share some of the details with you!
The theme for the crafternoon was inspired by the new Rice Krispie Shapes. My daughter was also learning about shapes and colors in Junior Kindergarten, so it seemed like a fun way to continue the learning at home – and in a way that bared no resemblance to learning, just to fun (the way it should be!) Everything was based around the idea and theme of shapes, with references to art as well, like in our gallery wall backdrop, which I will share more about in a bit!
And before I get too far into this post, I have to apologize for the photo quality! There is only so much you can do in November in Canada at 5 pm – darkness is setting in when the kids get home from the school bus these days, but I hope the images still convey the fun we had!
The first thing to do is prepare your materials. As a mom and a kindergarten teacher, I can’t stress the important of having materials prepped and ready to go. Imagine this: The children are painting but you only have two paintbrushes. You run downstairs and start digging through a container of random craft supplies to find more paint brushes. When your return, what will you find? Will the kids be sitting patiently, awaiting their paintbrushes? I doubt it (and if they would be, please send them my way!) More than likely, your preschool aged children would have found something else to use as a brush, and a big mess is likely on the way. So tip #1: Prepare ahead! I like to place all of my materials for our crafternoons in a bin so I never have to go looking for things.
As I mentioned before, we created a fun gallery wall backdrop for our crafternoon party. Is this something I would do if it were just me and my daughter? Not necessarily, but since it was a party, I decided to have a little fun with it. This is something ANYONE can create and for little to no cost. I thumbtacked a roll of craft paper to my dining room wall (use command strips if you dont want holes) and used frames that I already owned to display some paintings that my older daughter created for her sister. Boom! 10 minutes, $1 (for the kraft paper), and you have some cute party decor that fits the arts and crafts theme.
Have several activities available for them to choose from – kids love choice, and it gives them a sense of independence and ownership. For me, I planned the following:
- Name Mats: They could paint inside these, or glue cereal shapes inside the letters, or use them as playdough mats.
- Sponge Paintings: I cut sponges into shapes and the kids used them as brushes to create pictures with the paint
- Model Magic Ornaments: The children used cookie cutter shapes and stamps to create ornaments for their trees
How could I let them choose without allowing utter chaos to ensue? The name mats and sponge paintings used almost the same materials, so I put out all of these materials and tools first. That way they could choose which they wanted to do first, and if they finished early, they could play with playdough. After we were done with the super messy things, we simply placed the non-disposable things back in the bin, placed our artwork on the counter to dry, and balled the entire tablecloth up with all of the garbage inside. Clean up was a breeze!
After we cleaned up the painting mess, it was time for a little snack. I chose to do this before our last activity because I knew the table was clean! We had a great menu to choose from – all of the snacks were delicious, healthier options (as far as party food goes!) and carried the theme of SHAPES. The idea for this, as I mentioned, came from the Rice Krispies multi grain shapes cereal, which my daughters have been gobbling up ever since it came out a few months ago. I love that it contains no artificial colors or flavours, and packs in a bunch of nutrients they need – plus 20% of your recommended vitamin D! It’s one snack I can feel good about letting them munch on, whether on it’s own or with milk (although given the choice, they love it with milk as a bed time snack!)
For the party, we decided to mix it up with some other shape foods to create a Shape Cereal Mix – we added some cereal, mini Dorito triangles (from our halloween bags!), circle(ish) popcorn, and square pretzels. Which brings me to another tip: If it looks fun, they don’t realize it’s healthy. Shapes, food on sticks, that food was gone quick! Other foods on the menu included a meat, cheese and cracker tray, and fruit skewers (each with a square, triangle, and circle element), and pizza (square pieces with circle pepperoni).
One of the things that the girls had a lot of fun with was these food sorting mats. The object was to find the shapes within your food. In kindergarten, that is the goal of learning shapes – to find them in the real world. Seeing a line drawn circle on a page is one thing but to transfer that knowledge to recognizing a piece of pepperoni on a slice of pizza as a circle is the real goal. The kids loved that they were encouraged to “play” with their food! (PS – Want to download your own food sorting mat? Click here! The star, tree, person, and fish were in the cereal, the cloud was the popcorn, and the circle, square, and triangle were represented in every snack dish.)
After the snacks were finished, we worked on our last project for the day – we used cookie cutters to cut christmas shapes (star or snowflake) out of model magic that would dry to create a Christmas ornament. I bought red and white model magic, which the kids could swirl together for a fun candy cane effect.
I also gave them some stamps to use so they could put their names on the ornaments, and we used a straw to cut holes for string. Big Sister even came out of her “cool cat” room to help with this one – or was it play?! Hmm… Either way the help was nice, and the kids enjoyed having her around. If you have a tween or older sibling that will help the younger ones out – use them! The little kids love it.
Before the girls left for home with all of their arts and crafts in tow, we gave them this little favor as a way of saying thanks for coming! It was just a bowl of cereal (Rice Krispies Multi Grain Shapes of course!) in a cellophane bag, with a personalized spoon attached with twine. This was so simple but I absolutely loved them!
We had so much fun at our “crafternoon”, and hope we’ve inspired you to host your own – now that you aren’t afraid! These are the fun memories that they will cherish forever, and with some simple planning, you don’t have to endure the mess and disaster we often foresee when imagining our preschoolers and paint within 10 meters of each other. (Trust me, I still see it in my nightmares sometimes.) A crafting time can be a great bonding and learning activity, so don’t worry and just go for it! They will more than thank you for it in snuggles later that night… once they’ve had a bath.
And if you’re looking for the new Rice Krispies Multi Grain Shapes cereal, they’re available now at grocery stores everywhere!
Disclosure: I am part of the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.