Few four-year-olds don’t enjoy anything more than making a giant mess. You probably can’t fathom letting your child make a mess on purpose, but children can learn a lot when they’re making a mess. For example, 4-year-olds improve their fine motor skills by cutting and gluing. Create a little more order in the art chaos by planning messy art projects. Yes, your house will be littered with craft supplies while your child is busy creating, but when you hang those priceless art projects on the refrigerator, it’ll be worth it.
You’ll be finding glitter on your floor for months, but it’s a good craft medium that your child can create with on her own. Many dollar stores sell glitter in many colors, and craft stores offer a dizzying array of hues, but they are usually more expensive. Give your child a piece of heavy paper or card stock and a bottle of glue. Encourage her to draw a picture or write her name with the glue. Hand her a package or two of glitter and have her shake it all over the glue. Show her how to turn her paper over to remove the excess glitter. As she does so, she’ll reveal a sparkling masterpiece.
OK, it’s more likely to be hand, or even arm, painting, but when your child uses her body to create a picture, she’s improving her gross and fine motor skills. Tape a large piece of poster board or butcher paper to the wall and give your child a variety of colored tempera paints. Ensure that the paints are washable or you’ll have a bigger mess than you bargained for. Show your 4-year-old how to dip her finger into the paint and draw on the paper. Encourage her to make hand prints or foot prints.
Clay and other modeling mediums is another way to build your 4-year-old’s fine motor skills. You don’t need to buy expensive clay from craft stores. You can make your own creations at home for just a few cents a batch. Stir water and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until the salt dissolves. Add a few drops of food coloring if your child wants colored clay. Remove the clay from the heat and add cornstarch and cold water. Stir the clay until it’s smooth and then return it to the heat. Warm the clay until it’s thick. Let the clay cool, give a lump to your child and let her go crazy. Give her cookie cutters, plastic spoons and other kid-friendly tools to use. Store-bought craft dough works well too, and it’s fairly inexpensive.
Free For All
A craft free-for-all creates one of the biggest messes around, but it also encourages creativity you might not have otherwise seen from your child. Get out all of the craft supplies you have on hand such as paper, crayons, markers, glue, scissors, stickers, colored pom poms, sequins, glitter and fabric scraps. Lay it all on the kitchen floor or other hard surface and let your child go nuts. Even better, get down on the floor with her and do some creating of your own. Your child has likely made you many masterpieces, and this gives you an opportunity to return the favor by making her something that you’ve created with her in mind. Set aside an hour or more to clean up the aftermath.