We made cards for their parents. Combining thumb-print craft ideas I’ve seen elsewhere, and the so-appealing inchie idea, we got these:
I was planning on making three each, one for them to give to their parents, and two more for each set of grandparents. Because I am a kick-ass, family-friendly, grandparent-inclusive caregiver.
I was planning, I say, because, having completed one set of cards I can inform you all that this craft is TOO HARD for two-year-olds. You wouldn’t think so. (Well, maybe you would. Maybe you are wiser in the ways of toddlers and thumbs than me.) But I didn’t think it would be a problem! All they have to do is push that thumb into the paint, and then onto the paper. Sure, they’ll need help steering the second thumbprint at the right angle to make the heart, but it’s stamping. We’ve done lots of stamping! We love stamping!
First off, did you know that it’s very difficult to stick out just your thumb? It is! You try and try to stick out just your thumb, but your pointer finger keeps sticking out, too! And when you tuck your pointer finger in, your thumb tucks back in, too?
Also, it is extremely difficult to press the pad of your thumb to the paper. Please note: There are TWO hard things in that sentence. 1) It is hard to get the pad of the thumb down, rather than the tip. Which matters, because the tip is the wrong shape entirely. You don’t get hearts when you press down the tip of your thumb, you get … blots.
and 2) what is also hard, very, very hard, is pressing, so as to get a neat oval. We were not so good at pressing, even with Mary holding our thumbs in a valiant death-grip. We were very good at jabbing, poking, and smearing, however!!!
In fact, and I’ll tell you because you are my invisible friends on the Internet … not all those thumbprints are theirs. No. Some are very cleverly faked. A grown-up baby finger is just about the size of a toddler thumb, you see… but SHHHHHHH. We are not telling their parents. Because at this point, even I don’t know which are which. And DOES IT MATTER?
No. It does not.
I had started this project, and we were going to finish it!!! I don’t often get that way. I wasn’t cranky, mind you, just pragmatically determined. Normally, when I can see something isn’t working, I either adjust it to meet their capabilities, or scrap it altogether. This project? I wanted to DO IT. Even if it meant doing part of it myself. Which is totally cheating, and goes completely against my crafting manifesto of exploration and free play and letting their work be their own, warts and all … but there you have it. I wanted hearts for Valentines Day, and hearts we were going to get, dammit. By hook or by crook. Or baby finger.
I think this would be a great craft for five- or six-year-olds and up. Maybe a particularly coordinated four-year-old could swing it.
A couple of notes:
I found that it was best to angle the paper, make one thumbprint, then shift the paper to make the second print. It was far easier to shift the paper than to get the child to shift their thumb to the correct angle. Older children could manage to place their thumbs on their own, I’m sure.
I drew the inch squares first, and had the kids make their prints within the frame. That was silly. It would have been faaaaaar easier to make the hearts on a plains sheet of paper, making sure there was sufficient space between them to cut out an inch square around it. You’d waste some paper, sure, but SO MUCH EASIER! (Also, no visible lines on some of the squares.)
So. A bit of a fiddly disaster-craft for my group, but SO CUTE! If you have school-age kids, this would be an absorbing and totaly do-able craft.
This is a pipecleaner, also called chenille wire, or chenille stem. An adult has twisted one end a few times, resulting in this:
Couldn’t be simpler! A five-year-old could manage the twist. My toddlers cannot. The ends are a bit “pokey” in our parlance, so I’ll often wrap it with electrician’s tape, or duct tape. Today I didn’t. I will warn their parents…
Pinch the end away from the twist, like so:
The tots can do this. Theirs do not emerge looking quite so heart-like. Theirs emerge looking like stick people who have had a nasty run-in with a pencil sharpener, and are now in traction. Poor sad stick-people. Poor battered pipe cleaners. Nice, NICE mommies and daddies who will say “It’s BEAUTIFUL!!!!”
Make a second loop, putting it through the previous loop before twisting. Make a second heart (stick-person-in-traction). Now you have a two-link chain of hearts! Continue as long as there is interest or pipe cleaners.
Ooooo… very long!
So what is it? It’s A Craft, is what it is, a Valentine craft. (Because of the Hearts, see.) Crafts don’t have to BE anything. What’s it for? Its purpose is to keep the tots amused, to give them a chance to practice some fine-motor skills, to experiment with a different medium. As all parents know, crafts at this age are about the process, not the product. (In other words, for confused non-parents: it isn’t anything. It’s never anything.)
The nice thing about this craft is that when you’re done, you can take it apart and make something else of it. As many times as you like!
Time for crafts! The nice thing about working with little wee ones is that you don’t need to worry about being uncreative, uber-traditional, or cheesy.
You can be ALL those things! They’ve never seen it before, have they? And their parents? Any parents worthy of the name, first-time or tenth-time parents, will be thrilled and delighted with whatever their tot brings home, crafted with their very own pudgy little hands. And really: sticking firmly with tradition is teaching them their heritage! Initiating them to their culture! And cheesy? Cheesy is age-appropriate, people.
So. Simple, traditional, cheesy. Cliche, even. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Heck, when you’re two? Wheels are fascinating!
We have the pink and red paper, the lace doilies — white AND silver — the scissors, glue, red thread and coathangers. Pink and red paper and paper doilies straight from the dollar store.
First, we make hearts. Lots and lots of hearts. One per family member of each child, which tallies some 20 hearts. With a few extra for spoilage.
Then they draw pictures, one per heart: mommy, daddy, and any siblings, while I make the toppers for the mobiles.
And as we draw, we chatter. We chatter about our artwork…
“I’m making numbers!”
“Numbers? You’re supposed to be drawing daddy.”
Child in question looks at the teeny loops dotting her heart.
“Okay. It’s daddy!”
We chatter about our families …
“I’m drawing my mommy!”
“I’m drawing my daddy!”
“My mommy has a vulva.”
“My daddy has a penis!”
“I am drawin’ Juh.”
“‘Juh?’ There is no “Juh” in your house.” (He means his brother, George. I know this, but his speech has been getting very sloppy these days, and we’re working on careful pronounciation.) “Who are you drawing?”
We chatter about the Really Important Distinctions of life …
“My daddy has a penis!”
“I am drawin’ my mummy’s head.”
“My daddy has a big penis.”
“I am drawin’ my mummy’s eyes.”
“My daddy has big, hairy penis.”
“I am drawin’ my mummy’s hands.”
“My daddy has balls, too!”
“I am drawin’ my mummy’s hat.”
“My daddy has hairy balls!”
“Are you gonna draw your daddy’s penis?”
“No-oo! That’s PRIVATE!”
At the end of our happy innocent table talk, we have created five mobiles, once for each happy, anatomically-correct family.
Bring on Valentine’s Day!