Fun kids' crafts for fine motor skills development 5 easy, fun kids’ crafts that help your child with everything from fine motor skills development to math . By Liz Bruckner More than just a way for kids to spend an afternoon, doing fun kids’ crafts is also beneficial for their growing brains in the areas of fine motor skills development, as well as improving their math, literacy and socialization. “The skills kids cultivate during creative experiences not only play a role in their overall development, spending time with your child in this kind of hands-on learning helps encourage creative exploration and play, and can really benefit the parent-child relationship,” says Keri Zingle, owner of Craft Caravan (www.craftcaravan.com), a Vancouver-based company that ships all manner of craft supplies to your mailbox. Not a crafty parent? Good news: Activities need not be overly creative to be beneficial. Even the simplest project can contribute to a child’s advancement when craft time is fun and involves engaging activities. Here are some guaranteed simple and fun kids’ crafts that fit the bill. Cut it close Draw a few shapes on a piece of construction paper. Start with a circle and square, then add more challenging options like stars, octagons and trapezoids to mix things up. Ask kids to cut along the lines of the easiest shapes first, and when they finish, praise and encourage them to try the rest. Developmental benefit: Hand-eye coordination, arm and hand muscle strength, fine motor skills. Bring out the beads Make a trip to your local craft store and stock up on jewelry wire, bead caps and multiple shades and sizes of beads. Once home, cut the wire to necklace or bracelet length, add a bead cap closure on one end, and let kids loose. Encourage them and model (but don’t insist) how to work in colour and size patterns (i.e., two small red beads followed by four large, blue beads) until they reach the end, then put another bead cap in place. Developmental benefit: Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, early math skills, pattern recognition.Make like a tree With the help of family members or friends, set out several pieces of green construction paper and ask each person to trace and cut out their hand shapes. Tape each shape to the top of a large piece of paper, arranging them as leaves on a tree. Have kids huddle up and work together to add a trunk, grass, apples and a few birds or squirrels to complete the picture. Developmental benefits: Socialization, communication, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination. Get artistic with accessories Gather up some of your kids’ rarely used craft accessories and set them on a table with scissors, paper and glue. Using as many craft pieces as possible, make something small (a stick man with pipe cleaner limbs , pom-pom hands and wiggle eyes, for example) and encourage your children to do the same. When they finish, ask each child what he or she would like to make next. When they decide, instead of producing your own version, step back and see what they put together on their own. Offer suggestions if they get stuck, but let them take ownership over how the project turns out. Developmental benefits: Independent thinking, creativity, socialization, fine motor skills Cue the collage Draw and cut out a giant block-letter version of your child’s first initial onto a piece of construction paper or cardboard (the letter should take up most of the sheet). Next, spend time leafing through magazines and newspapers, talking about what she sees, until she finds pictures of items that start with “her” letter. When she finds it, have her cut out and glue it to the block letter. Continue on until the letter is covered, at which point kids can add smaller versions of their initial cut from other pieces of construction paper, or embellish it with small bits of ribbon, buttons or beads. Developmental benefits: Literacy, communication, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination.