Finding time to sew becomes much harder when you have a toddler. My desire to spend time on my favorite hobby has inspired me to make up and search out easy, creative ways to occupy my little one. Here are 15 of my favorites. The best part is that you probably have most of these items sitting around your craft room already!
1. Buttons. I have a huge collection of buttons, and at the moment most of them are mixed up in a bin. My daughter loves to play with these. A bunch of different colored buttons and some containers to sort them in to makes for all kinds of entertainment. If the child is old enough, have them sort them by color or size or even string them on some yarn. (*Note: Buttons can be a choking hazard. This activity should be done under supervision.)
2. A button snake. Get a piece of ribbon and attach a big button to one end and a square of felt to the other. Cut up a bunch of felt scraps and make a slit in the center of each one. Your child can practice their fine motor skills while threading the felt on to the ribbon. For more educational value, you could cut the felt out in different shapes and have them tell you the shapes while they add them to the snake.
3. Canning rings. This one was actually for my daughter when she was a baby. She was restless, so I grabbed a handful of canning rings from the closet and tied them together with some yarn. This noisemaker turned into one of her favorite toys. For an older child, you could have them thread the rings on to a stick or a piece of ribbon.
4. Scraps. If your child has some fabric of their own to play with, they may be less likely to mess with the fabric you are using. I have a big drawer of felt scraps that my daughter can play with and then they can easily be stuffed back in.
5. Stamps. It helps to have some drawers in the craft room that your child is allowed to get in to. Sarah loves to pull out all of my rubber stamps and line them up on the windowsill, naming the pictures on them. When she gets a little bigger, I may get brave enough to actually give her an ink pad to stamp with.
6. Beads and jars. I had this flower vase in my craft room that has a wire grid on top for arranging flowers. The holes happen to be just the right size for fitting beads through. I can keep Sarah busy for a long time by giving her a big pile of beads and having her drop them through the holes. (Again, this is a potential choking hazard.)
7. Popsicle sticks. These have all kinds of fun uses. Sarah loves to drop them into containers. They are the perfect size for the holes in her flower vase. It is also fun to give her an empty water bottle to drop the sticks into. We especially like these brightly colored ones from the dollar store. The kids craft section at the dollar store is one of our favorite places.
8. Pipe cleaners. Another dollar store item with infinite possibilities. They are fun to push through the holes in a sugar shaker or a colander. You can also bend them into fun shapes or thread beads on them.
9. Pom poms & ice cube trays. We do lots of fun things with these little fluffy balls. They are great for color sorting. Sarah also likes to pretend they are food. Ice cube trays are perfect for sorting pom poms, beads, buttons, etc. Another fun activity with pom poms is to tape a piece of contact paper to the wall sticky side out and let your child stick pom poms all over it.
10. Baby food containers. Have some of these sitting around from the baby food days? The little lids make them great for filling with anything. Sarah actually stole these off the counter and created this activity herself.
Are you catching a theme of colorful items and small containers? Sarah had lots of fun helping me take photos for this post. She played for at least half an hour by herself after I finished my pictures.
11. Sparkly things. I have a container of old earrings, pins, and other jewelry that I’m saving for various craft projects. Sarah loves to sort through the “pretties”.
12. Elastic. Stretchy string is endlessly entertaining. This was especially successful when Sarah was a baby.
13. Ribbons. Like my fabric scraps, Sarah is welcome to dig through my drawer of ribbon and lace. She loves to bring me all of her stuffed animals and have me give them bows.
The basic idea is to look around your craft room for things that your child can play with so that they will focus on those instead of the things you want them to stay out of. What are your favorite ways to keep your littles busy?