At my library, we do crafts at toddler and preschool storytimes.
I know not every librarian does crafts at storytimes, but there are several reasons I choose to do so. First of all, coloring, gluing and other craft activities are a great way to develop a child's fine motor skills. Crafts also provide a great time for parent and child interaction. Tied in with the encouragement of interaction, creation of of a craft project also provides a tangible object to promote discussion of storytime at home.
Here are my favorite crafts to use with this age group. They are all relatively mess free, and simple to prepare. I hope you find them useful with any and all young children.
1. Collage: Collage can be done with toddlers and preschoolers in a variety of ways. It is a great form of open ended art that can be adapted for all ages. One of my favorite forms of collage to use in storytime is the magazine cut out collage. I cut out pictures related to that week's theme and let the kids create collages out of them. Stickers also make a great collage medium.
2. Torn Paper Art: All this requires is a stash of torn construction paper. Simple have the kids glue it to decorate whatever you wish. I do this a lot with animals.The only preparation is tearing the paper and printing out an outline of that week's animal.
3. Bingo Dauber Art: Bingo Daubers, or Do a Dot daubers are a great way to create a variety of open ended art projects. You can find some great printouts to use with these daubers as well.
4. Paper Plate Projects: Paper plates are one of my favorite craft supplies. They can been used in so many different ways. For instance, I've cut them in half and had the kids glue tissue paper on to make jellyfish. I've also had kids glue yarn hair and sticker eyes on paper plates to make people. This is one of my favorite crafts at an "All About Me" storytime. Head here for more great paper plate craft ideas.
5. Yarn Art: Yarn works great to add an element of texture to any craft project. When I use it I typically cut little pieces for the kids to glue on. Depending on the project, it can be anything from "hair" to "grass".
These are just some of the common types of crafts I do with toddlers and preschoolers. I would love to learn your favorites as well!