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Twelve simple, no fuss craft ideas 

There's a lot to be said for elaborate and spectacular craft projects  but sometimes you just need something quick and easy to keep the kids busy for those last twenty minutes before dinner is ready.

These simple craft ideas don't require lengthy preparation or special supplies. Chances are you will have the materials on hand to launch straight in and when it's all over you won't have a whole lot of mess to clean up.

1. Paper chains

Cut some paper into strips. If your child is good with scissors – let them do the cutting. The strips don't have to be straight. Take a strip of paper and join one end to the other, forming a circle, and fasten with tape or staples. Take another strip of paper, thread it through your first loop and fasten as above. Keep on adding to the chain. As soon as they've mastered the art of the sticky tape dispenser young kids will be able to make paper chains on their own.

2. Foil coins

Cut a series of different sized circles from hard cardboard. Then cut some foil squares – large enough to completely cover your largest circles. Have your child wrap each of the circles up in foil. Get an old orange bag or purse to keep the coins in. These are great to use as money in pretend games of shop. You can also encourage your child to line the circles up from smallest to largest.

3. Confetti

This activity is so simple but so compelling for a young child. Introduce your child to the hole punch and provide some coloured paper from which they can punch out circles. Keep the confetti in your useful box – you can use it to decorate future craft projects!

4. Paper lanterns

Fold a rectangular piece of paper in half lengthways. Then make numerous cuts at even intervals from the fold towards to within about two centimetres from the opposite side. When you've made cuts along the entire long side of the paper, unfold and sticky tape the two short ends of the paper together. You can make handles using ribbon or another strip of paper. We recently had a great miniature lantern making session using coloured post-it notes. Just make sure you get the variety that are sticky at the short end and you won't have to use sticky tape at all!

5. Edible necklace

If you keep 'hole-y' cereal in your pantry (nutrigrain, cheerios, fruit loops etc) you can show your little one how to thread the pieces of cereal onto a piece of string or wool using a blunt wool needle. If you don't have a needle on hand you can wrap stickytape around the end of a piece of string to make it stiff enough for small fingers to manage. When they're finished with the necklace they can eat it!

6. Leaf art

Step outside together and collect some interesting looking leaves and bark. Then have your little one paste them onto a large piece of paper to make a nature scene. If you're feeling brave you can also stick dry dirt and sand to your nature picture.

7. Coin rubbings

Empty your coin purse on the kitchen table. Show your little one how to make a coin rubbing by putting a coin under a piece of paper and rubbing over the top with a crayon. You can also rub over leaves, cardboard shapes and more.

8. Cutting and sticking

Get into the habit of cutting suitable pictures from magazines or newspapers and keeping them in a clipping box. The ritual lends itself to two great no fuss craft ideas – cutting sessions and sticking sessions!

9. Paper chain people

Concertina fold a long piece of paper an draw a picture of a person (or animal or whatever takes your fancy) with their arms and legs outstretched. The hands and feet should be located on the folds of paper. Cut around the outline making sure to leave the paper joined at the hands and feet. Your little one will get plenty of joy from watching the chain of people appear and can spend some time drawing faces and clothes and colouring-in.

10. Animal shapes

When my daughter was a toddler she would endlessly have me cut out animal shapes from colourful paper so that she could  draw faces on them or colour in their legs. It's a great way for young kids to learn about different animals, but I must confess it can be hard on the parent forced to do all the cutting!

11. Drawing faces

A great one for toddlers and preschoolers alike. Draw a series of circles on a piece of paper and have your child draw in the facial features. Older kids can be encouraged to draw different, increasingly sophisticated, expressions. If you have more than one kid who is of pen weilding age, have them produce a collaborative effort. Keep the finished products - they make terrific artwork for birthday cards.

12. Paperclip necklace

Remember these? It may not sound like your idea of a great time but many kids love the challenge of joining paperclips together - especially if they've never done it before.


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