Simple Crafts



(Back to PLAY-GROW-READ! Main)

PLAY-GROW-READ!   

Simple Crafts and Activities
for Early Literacy Skills


The following is a list of simple crafts and activities that will help your child get ready to read by talking, writing, reading, playing and singing.

Talking: Activities that Invite Participation

Writing: Fun with Letters

Reading: Story and Book Activities

Playing: Activities that Encourage Play

Singing: Musical Activities

 

Talking: Activities that Invite Participation

Story Puppets (Talking and Playing)

Materials:

    • Construction paper
    • Craft sticks
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Markers/Crayons

Directions:

    1. Cut out shapes of familiar story figures (i.e., 3 bears, 3 pigs, brown bear, etc.) or make your own with construction paper and markers
    2. Color figures and then glue each figure onto its own craft stick
    3. Use as puppets to retell a favorite story or make up a new story!

(From The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers by Diane C. Ohanesian)




Rhyming Cards (Talking)

Materials:

Directions:

    1. Cut the cardstock into 3" x 3" squares
    2. Cut out the rhyming pictures and then glue them onto the cardstock
    3. Play fun games with the rhyming cards!



Say It Fast / Say It Slow (Talking)

Materials:

Directions:

    1. Cut the pictures and glue them onto cardstock or tagboard
    2. Then cut the pictures along the dotted lines indicated to divide the word at the syllable
    3. Play the game by putting the 2 halves together and saying the word "fast"; then separate the two halves as you say the word "slowly"



Weather Mini-Book (Talking and Reading)

Materials:

    • Pictures of different kinds of weather
    • Mini-books (see instructions below)
    • Glue
    • Crayons / markers

Directions:

    1. Glue pictures into book and label each picture
    2. Talk about the different kinds of weather that can happen

To Make a Mini-Book:

    1. Take an 8 ½" x 11" sheet of paper or cardstock and fold it in half the long way ("Like a hot dog")
    2. Next, open the paper back up and now fold it in half the short way ("like a hamburger")
    3. Open the paper back up — it should be divided into 4 sections
    4. Now open the paper back up and lay it on the table as though you're going to write on it
    5. Now fold the bottom of the paper up to the center fold
    6. Then fold the top of the paper down to the center fold
    7. Open the paper up again — the folds should divide the paper evenly into 1/8 sections
    8. Now fold the paper in half the short way ("like a hamburger")
    9. Using scissors, starting at the folded edge of the paper, make a cut along the center vertical fold just to the horizontal fold (only cut halfway to the other edge of the paper)
    10. Now open the paper back up and fold it the long way ("like a hot dog") again
    11. Now push the edges of the paper together so the cut you made forms into a diamond shape
    12. Keep pushing the edges of the paper together so that the opposite ends of the diamond shape touch
    13. Then fold the paper around so it is the size of 1/8th of the paper, and you have a 6-page mini-book!

(From The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers by Diane C. Ohanesian)




Emotion Cards (Talking and Playing)

Materials:

    • Cardstock cut into 4" x 4" squares
    • Pictures of people expressing different emotions or drawn pictures of various emotions
    • Glue

Directions:

    1. Glue emotion pictures to cards and then label each emotion on that card
    2. Feel free to make a matching card for each emotion so that you can play matching games with the cards
    3. Have child turn over one card at a time, or attach them together as a book and discuss each emotion — remember when they last felt angry? Sad? Happy? Excited? Nervous?

(From The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers by Diane C. Ohanesian)




My Story (Talking)

Materials:

    • One sheet of half-lined 8½" x 11" paper (can be found here)
    • Colored sheets of construction paper
    • Pens
    • Markers
    • Glue

Directions:

    1. Have your child draw a picture on the blank part of the paper
    2. Next, have them tell you a story about their picture
    3. Write down EXACTLY what your child says and then mount it on colored construction paper for a beautiful frame!
    4. You can also have them tell you the story first, then draw the picture.



Life Cycle Cards (Talking)

Materials:

    • Pictures of stages of a life cycle for an animal or plant (i.e., seed, stem, bud, flower, etc.)
    • Index cards
    • Stapler / hole punch and rubber band

Directions:

    1. Glue life cycle pictures onto index cards
    2. Attach index cards to make a book, keeping life cycle cards in order
    3. Talk about each stage of the life cycle with your child as you read the book together
    4. You'll be surprised how fast they can "read" the book themselves!

(From The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers by Diane C. Ohanesian)




Recipe Sequencing Cards (Talking and Writing)

Materials:

    • Markers and crayons
    • Index cards or paper

Directions:

    1. Ask your child how to prepare a common food (i.e. "How do you make pasta?")
    2. Talk about the materials and steps needed to prepare the food and write them down on a recipe card or piece of paper
    3. Have the child draw a picture for each step of the recipe
    4. Try following the steps of the recipe together and prepare a yummy meal!
(Back to Top)

Writing Activities: Fun with Letters

Everyday Activities to Help Get Your Child Ready to Write

    • Using scissors (It's okay if your child can't cut on a line at first)
    • Coloring, scribbling, painting, and drawing
    • Writing with an adult. For example, help your child create a play grocery list when you write yours
    • Playing with play dough. Rolling the dough into small balls or blocks is especially good!
    • Stamping paper with rubber stamps
    • Opening and closing twist-top jars or bottles
    • Building with interlocking blocks such as Legos
    • Picking up small objects like Cheerios (Note: Always be careful of choking hazards.)
    • Hole punching.
    • Manipulating paper — folding, tearing, wadding it into balls.



Make Your Own Mailbox (Writing)

Materials:

    • Tissue boxes
    • Construction paper
    • Glue
    • Markers
    • Paint
    • Crayons

Directions:

Have kids decorate their own mailbox to use at home to write notes to family members

(From The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers by Diane C. Ohanesian)




Making Menus (Writing)

Materials:

    • 8½" x 11" sheets of cardstock
    • Pictures of various foods (save flyers from newspapers or catalogs)
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Crayons and markers
    • Fake food for playing restaurant after the menus are made

Directions:

    1. Cut out different foods that your child likes and glue them onto the cardstock. (You can fold the poster board in half to make it like a book, or leave it as is — your preference)
    2. Label each food item on the menu with the crayons and markers — this helps your child associate meaning with symbol
    3. Feel free to decorate your menu and use it at home for meal times or to play restaurant



Design a House (Writing)

Materials:

Directions:

    1. Help your child cut out pictures of things to go in his or her house — beds, tables, food, people, etc.
    2. Arrange them in the house and glue



Cheerio Bracelet (Writing)

Materials:

    • Pipe cleaners
    • Cheerios (or any unbranded cereal O)

Directions:

    1. Pour a pile of Cheerios on the table in front of your child
    2. Have him or her pick up the Cheerios and string them on the pipe cleaner
    3. When finished, twist the pipe cleaner around your child's wrist as a bracelet

Safety tip: Always check to make sure your pipe cleaner does not have a sharp, pointy end. If it does, you can often bend it a bit to make it safer for your child.




Paper Plate Face (Writing)

Materials:

    • A paper plate
    • Glue
    • Old magazines or newspapers
    • A popsicle stick or paint stirrer (optional)
    • Yarn (optional)

Directions:

    1. Find some large pictures of faces in old magazines and newspapers
    2. Have your child cut out eyes, a nose, a mouth, and ears from different pictures of faces
    3. Glue them onto the plate to create a whole new face
    4. If you'd like, glue on some yarn at the top for hair and tape a paint stirrer or popsicle stick to the bottom so your child can hold up the face like a mask
(Back to Top)

Reading: Story and Book Activities


Make Your Own Rebus Story (Reading and Writing)

Materials:

    • Cardstock cut in half
    • Crayons
    • Markers
    • Stapler

Directions:

    1. Choose a familiar story, or make up your own
    2. Write it out, using pictures for some of the words (for example, if you choose "The Three Bears," use pictures of bears, chairs, bowls and beds to fill in those words in the story)
    3. Staple the pages together to make an easy book for your child to read!

(From The Storytime Craft Book by Kathy Ross)




Making an Animal Matching Book (Reading)

Materials:

    • Multicolored cardstock cut into strips (4" x 8")
    • Multicolored cardstock (8" x 8")
    • Pictures of animals (4 animals per book, 2 pictures of each animal)
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Crayons and markers
    • Velcro buttons
    • Stapler

Directions:

    1. Choose one piece of 8" x 8" cardstock and 4 pieces of 4" x 8" cardstock
    2. Fold the piece of 8" x 8" paper in half and staple it along the short left-hand side to the other 4 pages to make a book
    3. Next, staple along the opposite short side of the 8" x 8" paper to make a pouch. This pouch is the front cover of the booklet
    4. Color and cut out one set of animals, then glue one animal onto each page of the book
    5. Color the other animals, then cut them out and glue them onto a separate sheet of cardstock
    6. Cut out each of these animals so that each one makes a small matching card
    7. Attach one half of a Velcro button to the back of each matching card
    8. Attach the other half of the Velcro button onto the page of the book with the corresponding animal
    9. Now you can match each animal card to the animal glued on to each page of the book and use the pouch in the front cover to store the matching cards



Making a Finger Book (Reading)

Materials:

    • Cardstock in 8" x 8" squares
    • Pictures of animals from clip art or other sources (books, Google, etc. — they should be no smaller than 5" x 5" so that you can make holes big enough for the child's fingers)
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Yarn or string
    • Hole puncher

Directions:

    1. Glue the picture of the animal onto the piece of cardstock
    2. Use scissors (or an exact-o knife) to cut a hole so that the child can stick their fingers through the book to complete the animal picture (i.e., their finger becomes a dog's tail, a penguin's legs, a monkey's arms, or whatever else you can come up with)
    3. Make as many pages as you like and attach pages by punching holes in the sides of the cardstock and using yarn, string or rubber bands



Cereal / Food Box Books (Reading)

Materials:

    • Food and cereal box fronts (i.e, the front of a macaroni & cheese box; fronts of small boxes of cereal work really well for this)

Directions:

    1. Cut the front off of cereal, macaroni and cheese, frozen food, cookie or any other food boxes you use in your house
    2. Find about 5 to 8 box fronts that are approximately the same size and punch a hole in the top left-hand corner of each box front
    3. Then just thread the rubber band through the holes to attach the box fronts to each other and you have a flip book ready to read!



My Word Book (Reading and Writing)

Materials:

    • 8½" x 11" sheets of cardstock folded into mini-books
    • Clip art or magazines with pictures of all sorts of things cut out
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Markers or Crayons

Directions:

    1. Let your child chooses 6 pictures that they really like and glue one to each page in the mini-book
    2. Label each picture and then talk to your child about the pictures, adding description and new vocabulary whenever you can



Name Books (Reading)

Materials:

    • 8½" x 11" sheets of cardstock cut into quarters
    • Pictures of objects that begin with all letters of the alphabet
    • Glue sticks
    • Crayons or markers

Directions:

    1. Select sheets of cardstock so that you have one per letter in your name plus a cover sheet (i.e, for "Trish," I would need 6 sheets)
    2. Staple the sheets together to make a book
    3. Select one picture for each letter in your name (i.e, for "Trish," I might pick out a table, a radio, an igloo, a seal and a hat)
    4. Glue one picture per page and write the name of each picture under it, emphasizing the first letter of each picture

Alternate Directions for Younger Children:

Simply find pictures that all begin with the first letter of the child's name (i.e., for "Trish," I would choose a train, a table, a telephone, and other things that begin with "T")




My Letter Book (Reading)

Materials:

    • 8½" x 11" cardstock cut into halves
    • Stapler
    • Pictures of various objects that begin with different letters (from clip art, magazines, etc.)
    • Glue stick
    • Markers or crayons

Directions:

    1. Write your child's name on the front of the book
    2. Find or draw pictures that begin with the first letter of your child's name
    3. Paste the pictures into their "Letter Book"
    4. Write the name of each object under each picture
    5. Read the book together, emphasizing the first letter sounds of each word

Adaptation for Older Children:

Create a page for each of the other letters in their name, or create an entire alphabet book, one letter per page.

Adaptation for Younger Children:

Make a book of shapes and colors — recognizing differences in shapes and colors helps prepare their vision for letter recognition.




Letter Trees (Reading)

Materials:

    • Construction paper
    • Magazines / newspapers / pre-printed letters of the alphabet
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Crayons / markers

Directions:

    1. Draw a tree with branches on the construction paper
    2. Have kids find the letters of their name or just the first letter of their name in magazines, etc.
    3. Cut out the letters and glue them onto their tree
    4. Look at and talk about the way the same letter looks different — capitals and lowercase, different typeface and font, etc.

(From The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers by Diane C. Ohanesian)




Making a Name Necklace for Your Child (Reading)

Materials:

    • Colored foam letters
    • Hole punch
    • Yarn

Directions:

Punch holes in the letters of your child's name and string the yarn through so that your child's name can be read when they wear the necklace!

(Back to Top)

Playing: Activities that Encourage Play


Measuring Footprints (Playing and Talking)

Materials:

    • Construction paper
    • Pens / Markers / Crayons
    • Scissors

Directions:

    1. Have children trace and cut out one footprint for each foot
    2. Use the feet to measure different objects around the house to see how many "feet" they are

(From The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers by Diane C. Ohanesian)




Environmental Print Matching Cards (Playing and Reading)

Materials:

    • Cardstock or cardboard cut into 3" squares
    • Pictures (from clip art or the internet) of various environmental print signs (i.e, street signs, stop signs, restaurant signs, exit signs, anything you see around you in everyday life)

Directions:

    1. Make sure environmental print pictures are cut so that they fit onto the cardstock cards
    2. Glue pictures onto the cardstock, making sure you have 2 of each picture
    3. Use the cards to play a memory game or a simple matching game



Story Puppets (Playing and Talking)

Materials:

    • Construction paper
    • Craft sticks
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Markers / Crayons

Directions:

    1. Cut out shapes of familiar story figures (i.e., 3 bears, 3 pigs, brown bear, etc.) or make your own with construction paper and markers
    2. Color figures and then glue each figure onto its own craft stick
    3. Use as puppets to retell a favorite story or make up a new story!

(From The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers by Diane C. Ohanesian)




Pizza Box or Shoe Box Flannel Board (Playing and Talking)

Materials:

    • Clean, empty pizza boxes (possible donation) or empty shoe boxes
    • Pieces of felt cut to the shape of the top of the box you are using
    • Glue

Directions:

    1. Glue the piece of felt onto the top of the shoe box lid or to the top of the pizza box lid
    2. You can also glue the felt to the INSIDE of the pizza box lid so that the felt won't be on the outside of the box where it is more likely to get ruined
    3. Make characters from a story out of felt or copy pictures, laminate them and glue felt on the back
    4. Store the pieces inside of the shoe box / pizza box and you have a flannel board that's ready to travel!



Towel Tube Binoculars (Playing)

Materials:

    • Empty paper towel tube
    • Tape
    • Yarn
    • Scissors
    • Hole punch

Directions:

    1. Cut the empty paper towel tube in half
    2. Tape the tube halves together side by side to form a pair of binoculars
    3. Punch a hole in one end of each side of the binoculars and make a neck strap with the yarn
    4. Go exploring!



Scavenger Hunt (Playing and Reading)

Materials:

    • Paper
    • Old magazines

Directions:

    1. Cut pictures of common house items out of an old magazine
    2. Glue the pictures to a sheet of paper and write the name of the object next to each item
    3. Go on a scavenger hunt around your house to see how many items you can find!
(Back to Top)

Singing: Musical Activities

Making Shakers (Singing)

Materials:

    • Empty plastic eggs
    • Dry beans
    • Dry rice
    • Tape
    • Marker

Directions:

    1. Have each child pick 3 pairs of eggs (6 total)
    2. Fill 2 with beans and tape them closed; fill 2 with rice and tape them closed; and tape 2 empty eggs closed
    3. The children can then work on matching which eggs make the same sounds and which eggs have no sound



Changing Face Cup Puppet (Singing)

Materials:

    • Scissors
    • 2 plastic cups
    • Masking tape
    • Permanent markers

Directions:

    1. Cut out a circle, about the size of a half dollar, on the side near the bottom of one cup
    2. Wrap the bottom half of the second cup with the masking tape
    3. Turn the wrapped cup over and place the cup with the hole over the wrapped cup. The hole will be the head. Draw a body under the head with permanent markers
    4. Draw a happy face on the masking tape showing through the hole for the head. Turn the outer cup just enough to hide the happy face and draw a sad face on the tape. Turn the cup again to draw a mad face and once more for a sleepy face. You will have room to draw just 4 faces. Do not turn the cup too far past each face or you will run out of space for the fourth face
    5. You can sing "If You're Happy and You Know It" and turn the cup for each verse.

(From The Storytime Craft Book by Kathy Ross)




Oatmeal Bongo Drums (Singing)

Materials:

    • Glue
    • 3 round oatmeal containers
    • Duct tape or packing tape

Directions:

    1. Glue the lids onto the oatmeal containers
    2. Use duct tape to fasten the three containers together in a triangle or straight line
    3. Have fun tapping the tops of the containers to make rhythms



Make a Ribbon Stick (Singing and Playing)

Materials:

    • One wooden paint stick
    • Colorful ribbon, paper streamers or narrow strips of scrap fabric
    • Masking tape

Directions:

    1. Cut the ribbon into two-foot lengths
    2. Use tape to fasten two or three pieces of ribbon to the end of a wooden pain stick
    3. Dance around to your favorite music with your new ribbon stick!



Nursery Rhyme Puppets (Singing and Playing)

Materials:

    • Heavy paper
    • Crayons and markers
    • Tape
    • Wooden craft sticks

Directions:

    1. Draw pictures of the characters from your favorite nursery song (like "Old MacDonald")
    2. Cut out the characters and tape them to the end of wooden craft sticks to make puppets
    3. Sing the song while acting it out with the puppets
(Back to Top)



For more information on early literacy or to schedule a workshop, call the Kent District Library Outreach Specialist at 784-2016 x2221, or email program_outreach@kdl.org.