Crafting With Kids Gift Guide-2023

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Crafting, baking and creating are some of my favorite things to do. When I made the decision to become a pediatric occupational therapist, it was partly because I loved the idea of being able to do the things I love with all the kids I work with. My colleagues will tell you that when I am working with my kids and they are doing a Paint By Sticker or coloring, I am usually by their side doing something similar to model for them but also because it brings me such joy to craft and create. Crafting with kids is a great way to work on a variety of developmental and occupational therapy goals without it seeming like they are “working”. For me, the biggest benefit of crafting with kids is how they can work on improving fine motor, grasping, manipulation skills and in a fun way. Additionally, doing arts and crafts with kids encourages problem solving, creativity and imagination and once a project is completed, confidence and self-esteem can be hugely boosted. It also provides an outlet for them to express their emotions, have fun and develop a sense of mindfulness. As they get older, they will be better equipped to deal with stressful situations and handle them effectively, thanks to the skills they learned through arts and crafts projects.

I am really excited to share this years arts and crafts gift guide. I tried to include mostly new items and as many as possible that could be used for kids of varying ages and with a variety of interests. There are options for kids of all ages (tween and teen items as well!) and a lot of these are things that can be done with a friend, sibling or parent so you can sneak in some social skills practice. I did my best to link to local toy and bookstores when possible because I know that you might be able to find many of these gifts in your very own local toy, gift and bookstores. What I know about local toy and gift-stores is that they have a bunch of hidden gems of arts and crafts projects, gifts and sets. Go to your local stores and find out what some of their best sellers are.  Oftentimes, they know what’s really big and popular with the kids.

1. Toddler Art Kit-when introducing toddlers and little ones to art and crafting, the best thing you can do for them is to give them a bunch of different materials and let them explore and see what they can come up without giving them specific instructions. Giving them ideas is okay but open-ended play and exploration is so good for the development of fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills, while also working on improving problem solving, imagination and creativity. This awesome art kit from Fat Brain Kids comes with over 100 different art materials if varying size, colors and textures. Some of the materials provided are large buttons, crinkly paper, over-sized felt stickers, pom-poms and so much more. When working with younger children, it’s important to limit the amount of materials you put out as to not overwhelm or confuse them. For example, put out some colored paper, crinkly paper and some glue and crayons and see what they create.

2. Sew Easy! Stuffed Animals-this beginners sewing kit is perfect for little hands! The kit comes with everything your child needs to make 3 adorable stuffed plush dolls (penguin, sloth and llama). It comes with precut felt with prepunched holes, child-friendly sewing needles and stuffing for each doll. This is a great way to work on improving hand-eye coordination, encourages bilateral coordination skills, improves visual motor and visual perceptual skills while also working on developing fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills. It’s also a great project to do with younger children who need to work on improving executive functioning skills such as focus, attention, organization, task completion and improving frustration tolerance. In the end, they have a cute stuffed animal that they will be so proud of because they made it with their own two hands.

3. Djeco Pointillism Point Painting-I love so many of the Djeco art products because they are simple yet unique. This point painting set offers a new way to paint without using messy paintbrushes! Dip 4 small sticks in the paint and fills in the dots on the templates. Each set comes with 4 6×5 picture cards, 4 bottles of paint, 1 paint palette, 4 wooden painting sticks, a tablecloth to protect your work area and an instruction booklet. Kids choose the colors they want to paint their animals in which encourages creativity and imagination. This is a great way to work on developing fine motor, grasping (encourage your child to hold the stick just as they would their pencil or other writing instruments) and manipulation skills, improves visual skills such as hand-eye coordination and visual tracking and works on improving focus, attention and task completion.

4. Nail Polish Color Maker Kit-oh man! I wish this had existed when my now 13 year old was younger….she would have loved it! The Nail Polish Maker Kit from Nailmatic is such a fun gift! The kit comes with all the supplies needed to make 4 water-based polishes with your kiddos. It contains a thorough instruction book, 5 different colored/glittered solutions, 4 bottles to fill, a ruler and labels for your child to design and come up with fun names for their personalized nail polish. If you have a kid who loves to pamper themselves but also needs to work on improving fine motor and executive functioning skills, this kit is for them. I love that you can sneak in ways to work on improving graphomotor skills while designing labels.

5. Cool Maker Popstyle Tile Bracelet Maker-I would have loved this when I was a kid and it’s something I know my daughter would have also loved in her earlier crafting and jewelry designing days. The super-easy pop-on bead system lets kids create and recreate 10 unique bracelets without any knots, cutting, or clasps, perfect for young bracelet makers! With 170 awesome beads to choose from, featuring gold chains, emojis, faceted, peek-a-boo, striped beads, and letter stickers. Your child will love exploring endless style combos and expressing their personalities! The included storage keeps bead organization hassle-free, so your child can focus on the fun part: making, wearing, and sharing their amazing creations! One of the things I love the most about this bracelet making set is that if your kid doesn’t like what they created or wants to make a change, they can do so easily. This set is great for working on improving fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills, works on improving hand-eye coordination and improves executive functioning skills such as focus, attention, organization and planning skills.

6. Make Your Own Discovery Bottles-sensory play is such an important part of child development, especially for so many of the sensory sensitive kids I work with. One of the projects I do with my kids is to make a calm-down jar which is exactly what this kit is doing. Discovery bottles/calm-down jars are great for kids who might have a difficult time with controlling their big feelings and emotions by providing them with a visual distraction to help distract them from things and help them regulate emotions. By physically shaking them, they are helping to calm their bodies down and focus on and pay attention to their feelings. This kit contains 2 custom bottles with safety caps, 4 bottles of extra-fine glitter, sequins, mineral oil, plastic hoop and stick, dye tablet and a fish figure to make two sensory jars. It also comes with a big instruction booklet that gives you 4 other ideas and instructions for other bottles using stuff you might have around the house. In addition to the sensory benefits, there are a lot of fine motor, visual motor and executive functioning benefits to making the sensory bottles.

7. Make Your Own Glow In The Dark Puffy Stickers-i’ve been obsessed with stickers for as long as I can remember and I love that it’s one of those things that kids continue to love to this day. My favorite stickers when I was little were the puffy ones or the ones filled with liquid that you could play around with. This adorable DIY sticker making set from Klutz will become a favorite if you have a kid who loves to craft and loves stickers. Kids can make 60 one-of-a-kind puffy glowing stickers using the materials provided in the kit. This set comes with a puffy sticker maker that you layer the sticker template, foam piece and the adhesive squares inside of and push it together to get them all to form a sticker. The set also comes with an instruction book that provides your child with inspiration (this is especially helpful for those kids who have a hard time coming up with their own ideas). Kids can work on improving fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills, improves hand-eye coordination skills, improves coloring and graphomotor skills and encourages creativity and imagination. Additionally, kids feel so good about themselves when they complete the stickers and put them in a book or give them away to friends or family.

8. Play Monster Knitty Bitty Kits-over the years, I have had my school-age/tweens show an interest in learning how to knit but I have found many of the kits are too challenging or that they aren’t quite ready to use needles for projects so I have been on the lookout for kits that use more of a loom and a crotchet hook instead. These little kits are adorable and perfect for your school-age kid/tween who not only loves to craft but also still likes pretend play and to collect little toys. My daughter would have LOVED these when she was younger! Each Knitty Bitty comes with 3 styles to create along with a round knitting loom in the perfect size for your cozy friend. It also comes with very clear directions and instructions Mix and match outfits between the Bitty’s to have a whole wardrobe of adorable outfits!

9. Stampies-if you are looking for a fun way to introduce crafting to your toddler, Stampies from We Might Be Tiny are perfect. I’ve used this set at my gym when playing with playdough, putty, washable markers and paint for stamping and just love all the ways you can use it depending on what kinds of things your kid needs to work on. Not that I have used it for this, but they can also be used to make designs on cookies. This set includes a wood stamper with a base that you can change out the 15 different silicone animal stamps. It’s not only great for working on improving creativity and imagination skills, it’s a great activity to encourage sensory exploration with little ones. Stampies are also great for working on improving fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills, encourages visual motor and bilateral coordination skills and can work on storytelling skills.

10. Instax Camera and Photo Journal-one of my favorite gift ideas for tweens and teens who aren’t really into toys but still want to spark their creative side. My daughter has had an instant camera for years and takes it to all her friend gatherings. It’s a great way to have actual memories of your time with friends and family without it being taken with a phone camera. I love the photo journal because it’s a great way to motivate a child to work on writing and drawing. Over the years, I have recommended that parents have their kids document and journal when they are on vacation by having them take a few pictures every day and then write about their pictures. Journaling is not only good for working on graphomotor skills,  it’s helps children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They also learn how to handle difficult situations and work through their big feelings through writing and reflection.

11. Glow In The Dark Mixed By Me Aaron’s Thinking Putty-if you have a kid who loves slime or putty, this is a great gift for them. I am a huge fan of all the Aaron’s Thinking Putty products and them as a company because they have a commitment to helping all members of their community and hires young adults with disabilities to work for them. This awesome DIY Glow-in-dark Mixed by Me Kit contains 5 tins of clear Thinking Putty, six bags of color and/or special effect putties, colored pencils, labels, a tin to hold all your components and a dual instructional mat—everything your kid will need to make their very own glow-in-the-dark putty. Once the kids are done making their putty, they can decorate the labels on the tins, come up with fun and creative names and then play for hours and hours. This kit is great for working on increasing grasp strength, improves fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills, encourages bilateral coordination and works on executive functioning skills such as following directions, focus and attention. Additionally, playing with putty and other sensory materials are great for working on self-regulation.

12.Finger Knitting Fun Book -finger knitting is a great way to work on improving fine-motor, grasping and manipulation skills while also working on improving hand-eye and bilateral coordination, motor planning, attention and organizational skills. There are so many things that a child can make using yarn and their fingers and any time a child successfully makes something, their confidence and self-esteem soar. In this adorable book, there are 28 different projects to make and are geared towards children as young as 4 but probably better for 6-12 year olds. The book includes complete step-by-step instructions with photos that help with learning. Activities range in level of difficulty with things as simple as bracelets and necklaces and can be as advanced as a pillow. If you are a knitter and have tons of extra yarn sitting around and a kid who seems to be interested in crafting, this is a perfect gift for them.

13. Funny Mats-if you need ways to keep your kids entertained at the table and don’t want to rely on a screen, these are perfect for you. These fun table top coloring mats come in a ton of different designs and can be used over and over again. Some of the designs are sea creatures, sports, princesses, pirates, ballerinas, numbers and so many more. They are compatible with most washable markers or you can buy a set made specifically for these mats. This is not only a fun way to keep your kids entertained and to encourage sitting at the table, it’s a great way to work on improving graphomotor and coloring skills, improves hand-eye coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills and works on improving focus and attention.

14. My Book of Beautiful Oops Activity Book-the Beautiful Oops! book was one of my favorite books to read to the kids in my social skills groups over the years, especially for those kids who are so worried about everything being just right or perfect. It’s so hard for some kids to be flexible and see the beauty in their work when they have something very particular in mind. The book is full of pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and more to show kids that mistakes or “oops” can turn into something special and unique. When I found this activity book that goes along with the book, I was really excited and thought how it would make such a nice addition to this gift guide because sometimes parents, caregivers and other grownups need a reminder and practice that it’s okay to not be perfect. This activity book is a hands-on journal of sorts that encourages kids to use their imagination and creativity to think outside of the box. For example, there are pages filled with colorful paint splats with the prompt to turn it into something fun. My Book of Beautiful Oops is works on so much more than just creativity, it’s a really fun way to work on improving grasping, drawing and other graphomotor skills, works on hand-eye coordination and it could be a really fun activity to do with a friend or a sibling to work on taking turns, being a flexible thinker and working on compromising when it comes to ideas.

15. Fashion Plates-this has been on my gift guide for years and while this is the most common and most well-known version, there are so many other ones to choose from (which I will link below). Kids can create your their own unique fashions with this mix and match drawing set! The Classic style set linked here contains fifteen fashion plates, twenty sheets of papers, eight colored pencils, two rubbing crayons, one crayon holder, one drawing tablet, one fashion carrying case and one fashion folio idea guide. Fashion Plates are a fantastic way to work on improving  fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills, works on improving hand-eye coordination and bilateral coordination skills, improves visual motor and visual perceptual skills and works on increasing focus, attention and organizational skills. Additionally, it encourages creativity and imagination in little artists.
Fashion Faces
Action Plates-Fashion Plates but SuperHero themed
Barbie Fashion Plates
Fashion Angels Fashion Design Light Pad Sketch Set






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