While kids crafts offers children the chance to create through art or an opportunity to be creative, the fact is that crafting is a means to help children build skills. Because of that, I wanted to put together a resource detailing kids craft supplies and how simple craft items can be used to help kids improve fine motor skills, executive functioning, motor planning, and other developmental skills. There’s more; Kids can use crafts as a coping strategy. Crafts are one of the therapeutic activities for teens or children of all ages that not only allow children to express their selves, but to create. Let’s talk more about the specific craft supplies for kids and how they can be used as a therapy tool.
Kids Craft Supplies In Therapy
The therapeutic use of crafts has been the history of occupational therapy since the very beginning. The use of crafts began in mental health with a huge focus on basket weaving. Therapeutic crafts have sustained their relevance and continue to be utilized in many occupational therapy settings today to include pediatrics, mental health, outpatient and skilled nursing, among others.
Why? Because crafts can work on many skills with a focus on functional skills, or meaningful activities. Most all craft activities have some type of motoric and cognitive skill component. Individuals can work on their fine motor control and manipulation, bilateral coordination, tool use, hand strength, visual motor and perception, motor planning, and grasping skills. Crafts allow for work on executive functioning skills to include attention, focus to task at hand, task initiation and completion, planning, sequencing, organizing, following multi-step directions, and problem solving. Craft activities can also provide a fun time for therapists to connect with clients and develop a special rapport.
Crafts have recently regained their popularity and are back in style with increased vigor and emphasis across all populations. Children and adults are participating in craft activities both available on social media as well as at craft events in local craft stores and art studios. Adults meet with friends to create and engage in social interaction while learning new skills and creating works of art from their own hands. For many, crafts are a form of occupation. Children likewise enjoy crafts for similar reasons as they are able to use their skills to create something they can share with others and take home to enjoy while having a sense of accomplishment and success.
Children love to make crafts both in school and during their own time. They have fun exploring different materials and using them to create unique and original items which they can then share with others and display. To see the smile on the face of a child when they have completed a craft, no matter the end product, is simply priceless. Precious smiles with development of skills are the reward to pediatric therapists as they work with children every day. Perfection is not the goal, but the process.
Art Therapy for Children
Art therapy for children is a powerful therapeutic activity. There is an entire profession dedicated to the use of art and crafts in therapy. In the occupational therapy profession, the use of arts and crafts offers a meaningful occupation to build essential skills for function. While it may seem like play, there is much happening behind craft activities! Crafts and art in OT sessions are the tools or the medium to improve functional skills in patients.
Craft Kits for Kids
Craft kits are one of the best tools for pediatric therapists. These craft sets are a set of kids craft supplies selected to help kids build skills. Craft kits for kids can come in any shape or size and they offer a sense of intrigue and possibility for children. Therapists use these motivational materials to address therapeutic goals while children develop confidence in their skills along with self-esteem and ultimately, product production.
Activity Kits for Kids
When therapists choose a craft they are targeting specific child goals. Using craft supplies, selected activity kit for kids allow users to build skills through creating art or crafts. They address improving skills with scissor manipulation, grasp, fine motor coordination and manipulation, tactile tolerance and stimulation, organization, sequencing, or following multi-step directions. Craft projects in a group lead to an opportunity for socialization and social skills development too. Crafts can easily be downgraded or upgraded to address multiple skill levels. Furthermore, therapists can position materials during the process of crafting to facilitate crossing midline, hand dominance, left and right awareness, postural control, range of motion, and motor planning. Again to reiterate, it is the process of the activity with skills addressed rather than the complete end product.
Using craft kits can be so much fun and taking them a step further by creating themed kits are always the best! Craft kit themes can include food items, craft items, sensory items, holiday items, or seasonal items. Decide the craft kit theme you want to create and start off to the store to gather your materials. A simple, easily replenished, go-to craft kit should be a part of the pediatric therapist’s bag, cart, therapy room, or clinic. So many wonderful skills can be practiced and addressed with craft kit items while also allowing for child creativity and freedom to explore. Let’s take a peek at two fun craft kits that are cheap to create using everyday craft supplies for kids and use easy to find items.
Kids Craft Supplies Kit
This small craft kit contains simple items for use in craft and art activities which can be found at a local dollar store, chain store, or craft store. It contains only the items for art pieces and crafts, but not the necessities such as paper, glue, and scissors. This craft supply set may be more useful in the clinic setting as the other necessities are readily available for use. However, locating a set of must-have craft supplies for kids is as easy as an internet search.
Below is a list of craft supplies that build skills. Click on the links to purchase the craft items.
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Buttons – addresses size relations and fine motor coordination and manipulation. Buttons can also be used to string onto pipe cleaners for crafts which addresses fine motor control and precision, eye-hand coordination, perception, and bilateral coordination.
Colored craft sticks – addresses fine motor coordination and manipulation. Adding other craft elements such as googly eyes, stickers, washi tape, etc. addresses fine motor precision, bilateral coordination, and eye-hand coordination.
Crayons – broken pieces of crayon addresses grasp and distal control while the child colors or draws.
Doilies – addresses fine motor manipulation, bilateral coordination, and patience as the child works to separate the doilies to obtain just one.
Foam sticker shapes – addresses shape recognition, tactile tolerance, fine motor manipulation and coordination, pincer grasp and bilateral coordination. Removing sticker backs and applying to a surface are key components. In fact, stickers build a lot of skills in occupational therapy goal areas.
Googly eyes – addresses fine motor manipulation and coordination and pincer grasp. Googly eyes can sometimes be challenging to pick up from a flat surface.
Pipe cleaners – addresses bilateral coordination, fine motor precision, in-hand manipulation, eye-hand coordination, pincer grasp, and visual motor and perceptual skills. Pipe cleaners can be used for lacing straw pieces and buttons and creating shapes.
Pom-pom balls – provides a tactile experience and works on pinch and eye-hand coordination for placement. Patterning can also be addressed.
Regular craft sticks – these are great for creating fun “buddy” crafts.Use crayons to color and other elements for decoration such as googly eyes, sequins, and stickers which addresses fine motor coordination and manipulation, fine motor precision, visual motor, bilateral coordination, and grasp.
Sequins – addresses fine motor control and manipulation. They are challenging to pick up and manipulate for placement onto glue dots. Patterning can be addressed.
Small glitter tubes – addresses graded control for sprinkling. Tactile tolerance can be addressed if the glitter is sprinkled with a pincer grasp.
Straw pieces – addresses bilateral coordination, scissors skills, fine motor coordination and precision, and pincer grasp. Cut straws into pieces for art an activity or for stringing onto pipe cleaners.
Washi tape – addresses tactile tolerance, bilateral coordination, scissor skills, pincer grasp, size relations and pre-writing skills if used for shape formation.
Yarn – provides tactile tolerance especially when placing onto glue and addresses fine motor manipulation and coordination, scissors skills, and prewriting skills if used for shape formation.
Craft Kit for Kids
This larger, three tier craft kit contains ALL that you need to work on art and craft activities with kids. It houses all of the craft and art items found in the smaller craft kit with a few more additions. It also allows storage for scissors, glue, paper, and more drawing and writing tools. With this kit, you simply grab and go as all items are there for use in completing the entire art piece or craft. This kit would serve itinerant or traveling therapists well as they do not always have the necessities readily available in the settings they may be working.
Here is a list of the additional craft supplies in the kit and the skills they can promote:
Bottle and glitter glue – addresses school tool use, fine motor manipulation, hand/finger strength, bilateral coordination, graded control, and tactile tolerance. Partially closing the twist top can promote an opportunity for increased hand strength.
Glue sticks – addresses school tool use, fine motor coordination, bilateral coordination, graded pressure, and tactile tolerance.
Hole punches (thumb and hand) – addresses grasp, bilateral hand use, hand and finger strength, and eye-hand coordination. These small hole punchers are great for building thumb stability and strength in the arches. This reduced effort hole punch strengthens the hand and are ideal for children.
Ink stampers – addresses fine motor coordination and manipulation, bilateral coordination, and graded control. Patterning can be addressed.
Markers, pens, pencils, and colored pencils – provides options for color as well as drawing and addresses grasp, distal control, eye-hand coordination, and pressure regulation.
Paper – a variety including construction paper, card stock paper, doilies, foam sheets, paper plates, and paste board (which can be recycled paste board food boxes).
Puffy paint – addresses fine motor manipulation, hand and finger strength, bilateral coordination, graded control, and tactile tolerance.
Ribbon – addresses fine motor manipulation and coordination, bilateral coordination, scissor skills, and eye-hand coordination.
Scissors – regular and adaptive scissor options addresses scissor skills, grasp, bilateral hand use, hand strength, and eye-hand coordination.
Using craft supplies to build skills is easy with a quick trip to the dollar store or online shopping session. What craft supplies do you have in your home already? Many times, thinking outside of the box can expand your craft supply. Try using these recycled materials to make crafts and build skills.
A final word on Kids Craft Supplies in Therapy
With these two craft kit examples, you have a better understanding of what type of craft supplies to add to your home or therapy practice. Use the craft supply list to build kids craft kits you would find most beneficial according to your needs and the needs of your clients or children.
Enjoy creating your craft kit for kids and have fun exploring the items with kids while building important skills and providing opportunities to build child self-esteem and confidence.