Doing crafts with kids can seem like an impossible task when your kid can’t seem to sit still more than two seconds. “My kid won’t sit still long enough for a craft,” is a common excuse I hear from parents and care-givers. Whether your kid has ADHD or other sensory processing disorder that keeps their brain from focusing too long or they’re just a typical two-year old, it can be hard to make time to craft with these active kids.
Roo has always been a really active child. She went from rolling to crawling to walking and running in what seemed just weeks! She struggles at group activities like dance or gymnastics because they don’t move fast enough for her. There was a time that we took a break from school and crafting much because Roo just couldn’t sit still! Eventually I weighed the benefits of crafting with your kids against the frustration of getting her to finish a project and decided to make it work.
Busy kids like to keep moving and crafting is a pretty quiet and stationary activity, right? It doesn’t have to be! I worked with my active kid to find creative projects and crafts that worked for her fidgety attitude.
Here are a few craft ideas for your busy kid who can’t sit still. Finding crafts for busy kids seemed like a difficult task at first. Until I realized that I just needed to expand the natural movement and textile exploration crafting already includes.
Crafts for Busy Kids that Can’t Sit Still
Roo loves to finger paint. Many parents shy away from this because it is notoriously messy. But there’s nothing more interesting to kids than feeling the paint squish in their fingers! They can also experiment with color mixing. They can make shapes and pictures without worrying about holding the paintbrush just so.
To cut down on the mess, try using a tray on the surface your want them to paint at. This keeps the paper from running away and keeps paint smears in an easily rinsed area. Keep a close eye on them. No potty breaks for you! Because it’s inevitable that as soon as you leave the room, the wall will look like a great blank canvas.
You thought finger painting was messy? Just wait until you try body painting!
No seriously, you’ve got to try this.
Strip them down to just diapers or underwear and take them to the back yard. Spread a large roll of paper or a plastic table cloth on the ground along with some small tubs of washable paint. Some kids might need some help to understand that you WANT them to get paint on themselves. So paint their hand and press it to the paper to make a hand-print. Ask them what else they could make prints with. Feet? Elbows? Just ask them not to purposefully paint their faces to avoid getting it in their eyes and nose.
Or put them in the bathtub to paint themselves with bath paints.
This is not the busy kid’s activity to do the day before picture day at school. But to cut down on colorfully stained skin, provide only light and bright colors for them to use. Purples, blues, and reds tend to leave dark stains.
Large Scale Drawing or Painting
For this craft for busy kids, you’ll need a large roll of paper like this one. Tape or tack it to a wall, fence, or the floor and provide markers, crayons, or washable paints. The large work space will encourage activity and movement in the busy kids so they don’t have to sit still to work. Older kids might like to create a mural, younger kids might just like to scribble. Either way, this creative project is keeping them busy and active.
You could also use side walk chalk and paint and use your driveway as your large workspace. Roo loves it when I move the car from the driveway and we try to fill it with as many pictures and colors as we can. I have to admit that I love using the large blank canvas too, and they make great pictures!
Spray Bottle Paint
With an empty spray bottle and some watercolor paper, your busy kids can get moving in this fun craft. Just water down some washable paint to about 2:1 paint and water and pour into a spray bottle. Help them aim the bottle at the desired workspace and let them create.
The spray bottle may be hard for toddlers to operate, but it provides some great exercise of the gripping muscles in their hands. Most spray bottles have a varying stream function by loosening or tightening the end. Help the kids experiment with the different shapes and patterns they can make.
You could also fill the spray bottle with 1:2 ground chalk and water to use on the sidewalk.
Race Track or Town
You’ll need a tiny bit of drawing skills for this one. Think about your kids’ interests and favorite toys: cars, dinosaurs, dolls… Then create a flat scene on a large roll of paper to go with it.
Car enthusiasts could have a winding race track. Dinosaur lovers could have a prehistoric mountainside. Dolls could go shopping in a small town square.
Once you’ve finished a quick sketch of your scene, provide map colors or crayons and the toys. You could even provide a paper plate with some paint for the toys to create colorful tire tracks or footprints. We used this idea in another post about painting with kids!
This craft for busy kids is especially fun if you are working with two or more kids, but it can work well with just one too.
On a large table (your kitchen table should work fine) set out the supplies for several different crafts. Need some ideas? Search by category here. You should have one craft for each child, or between 3 and 5 for just one child.
Arrange each craft and its supplies in a row along the table before calling the children in. Tell them they have a time limit to work on the craft. The time I find works best is one minute for each year they are old, or five minutes, whichever is least. Remind them they don’t have to FINISH the craft in that time.
Set the timer and let them work. When the timer goes off, the kids rotate seats. They pick up where the last person left off and the timer begins again. Keep going until each child has had a turn with each craft, or if you have only one child let them work through each craft twice.
With one child, it’s your call whether to keep the time limit strict, or allowing them to finish. But with multiple, they have to drop everything and switch which could lead to some meltdowns. Most kids will just find enthusiasm in the rush of completing as much of a project as possible. Don’t expect their best work!
Invitation to create exercises encourage out of the box thinking and independent creativity. These activities are a bit different from your classical crafts for kids. These projects are open ended and have no definite purpose. You provide some supplies with maybe a vague idea of what could be created with them, then let the busy kids go. You’ll be surprised at what they can come up with when there is no instructions to follow.
Provide supplies such as googly eyes, glue, sequins, pipecleaners, and cardboard. They might create a robot, or a monster, or something else entirely. Or use playdough as a base and provide themed supplies like these spring time themed play dough stations.
Get the kids active before sitting down to craft with a scavenger hunt.
Go searching through the house for the supplies. Ask them to find something made of cardboard, something yellow, and something fuzzy to include in their invitation to create.
Proclaim a recycled craft day and go hunting through the recycling bin to find things to craft with. We found a bunch of cardboard boxes doing this one day, here’s what we created.
Get outside and go on a nature walk. When you get home, do some nature crafts with the object you found on your nature walk.
Crafting doesn’t have to be a sit still activity.
We expect kids to sit still too often throughout the day. Don’t miss out on encouraging their creativity by making them be still. Use some of these crafts for busy kids to keep your busy kid creating.
These are just some of the ideas I have and use when I am coming up with strategies for you to making crafting with your kids a priority. If you are struggling to craft with your kids, consider my Personal Craft Consultation as a solution. I can help you analyze your unique situation and help you find time to craft and find crafts that will keep your kids engaged.