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Crafts to Help Toddler Development

Everyone loves to receive tokens of appreciation during Valentine’s Day. Goodie bags filled with candy, printed cards or blooming bouquets are all sweet ways to dote on our loved ones; even more special are handmade gifts, little offerings, hecho a mano, that express heartfelt attention that cannot be replicated by a store bought present.

This year, I am excited to spend an afternoon of crafting with my 3-year-old daughter. She loves all things pink, which comes in abundance during Valentine’s Day, and the thought of making her Daddy a special gift makes her giddy with excitement. Although an afternoon of ribbon and glitter is sure to be fun, knowing that our handmade Valentine’s Day crafts are also helping to promote the development of her fine motor skills makes me especially happy.

Before they venture into kindergarten, our toddlers need to master a few crafting skills and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to practice. Here are five crafty skills that also translate to toddler development while you create your Valentine’s Day tokens of love:

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Scissors: Using child-friendly scissors, with adult supervision, is a skill our kids should practice often. Help them correctly hold the scissors, knowing that toddlers will find unique ways to handle the tool. Allow them time to snip small pieces of paper; cutting in straight lines won’t come until later. Draw a shape with a large tip highlighter and ask them to cut along it.

Markers, Pens, Crayons: These are all great tools that encourage your toddler to manipulate their fingers in anticipation of their writing adventures later in life. Be sure to offer a variety of writing instruments, as some kids prefer the feel of one over the other. For example, my daughter enjoys coloring with broad tip markers versus colored pencils or crayons.

Decorative Hole Punches: In addition to being super cute and creative, decorative hole punches allow your toddler to strengthen their grip. Gripping a hole punch in two hands helps them to determine the level of strength they need to use, too.

Tongs: Instead of using their fingers, ask your toddler to use tongs to place embellishments on your Valentine’s Day craft. Place a small dot of glue on the craft, and with various sized embellishments laid out, your toddler will be practicing many small motor skills that are necessary for their development.

Threading/Weaving: Valentine’s Day crafts call for frills of ribbon and lace, which is the perfect opportunity for toddlers to practice the small motor skills necessary to thread. After your child has practiced gripping with their hole punch, ask them to weave a decorative ribbon through the holes. Make up different patterns for each craft, asking them to repeat. Let their tiny fingers manipulate the craft, allowing them to figure out the most efficient way for them to weave and thread different types of string, yarn and ribbon.

Above all else, enjoy the creative spirit you are creating for your child and take pride in knowing that you are also promoting the development of their fine motor skills.

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