The youngest family members sometimes want to get in on the action like older children. At holiday time, you may well find your young child wishing to make a decoration just like the big kids. This craft activity is suitable for even the youngest toddler. It's inexpensive and easy, and it can be done over and over again if you wish. All you need is an old Christmas cookie cutter and some paper, as well as some crayons, markers or paints and paint brushes.
Choose a cookie cutter that does not have a closed top. The cutter should just be the outline of the shape. Make sure that it's fairly sturdy, too. A plastic cutter or a heavy metal one will work best. You may also wish to choose a cutter with a broad, open shape. A bell, a Christmas tree, snowman or a gingerbread house should work well. Steer clear of shapes that are intricate, with lots of small parts, like reindeer, candles, or stars. These shapes have too much detail in general, and the narrow portions will make the craft too difficult for a young child to enjoy.
Position the cutter on a piece of paper so that there is nothing but paper under it. Do not allow the cookie cutter to hang over the edge of the page. An adult will likely need to hold the cutter in place for the child, but older toddlers and preschoolers may be able to hold it with one hand and work with the other. Give the child a crayon, marker, or paintbrush dipped in paint. Most children will want to choose their own colors for this project, so be sure to arrange for the child to have input into the color selection.
Have the young artist color inside of the cookie cutter! Very young children will simply make a few marks and be done. Older children will work to cover the paper within the cutter's borders with color. Accept whatever effort your child wants to put into the project. After all, much of the fun is in the process of making these things. The emphasis should be on the fun of making and doing rather than on the appearance of the finished product.
When your baby indicates that he or she is finished coloring, keep the cookie cutter in place for just a few more minutes. Use a black crayon or a black marker and trace around the inside of the cookie cutter. This will create a wonderful outline effect that will give the picture form and substance, no matter what kind of coloring was done by the child.
When you lift up the cookie cutter, the tree, bell, or whatever will seem to magically appear on the paper. Young children will have difficulty even grasping that they created this treasure! You will probably find that your child will be pleased with his or her efforts, and will crow, "Again!" And you will know at that point that the craft has accomplished its purpose. Your child's self-esteem has grown a notch, along with feelings of success and accomplishment.
A few quick snips of the scissors will allow you to display this decoration wherever you'd like. Punch a hole in the top and add a yarn loop for a cute Christmas tree ornament. Hang the masterpiece up on the refrigerator. Tape it to the wall. Wherever you display it, be sure to show your child how very proud you are of their work. It means a lot to your children, and will be a pleasant memory for a long time to come.