The Classic Handprint Turkey

1. Paint your child's hand and all fingers with brown tempera paint using a medium-sized watercolor brush.

2. Help him press his hand onto white or light brown construction paper, or a paper bag cut into a square. Be prepared to demonstrate this first.Your child may enjoy making several handprints right away once you have shown him how. If you would like one for display, let him practice this a few times, then help him press his hand onto the final paper, making sure to gently push down each finger, and pulling his hand straight up.

You can also individually paint each finger in a different color so the finished handprint will already have colorful feathers. You'll probably have to have your paint brushes ready to use, but if you can pull this off, skip steps 2 and 3.

3. Once the paint is dry, go back with a small paint brush dipped in red. and show him how to make a stroke along one of his finger prints to paint the red feather. (You can even do one or two with him hand over hand.) Toddlers are likely to make a bunch of paint swipes everywhere — that's OK. The idea is to get them painting and practicing.

4. Repeat step 2 with other colors: yellow, orange, green, black for the remainder of the fingerprint feathers.

5. Dip the stick end of your paintbrush in black and dot on eyes. Paint the turkey beard red.

Play Dough and Cookie Cutters

1. Use fall-themed cookie cutters (leaves, acorns, turkeys). You can find them in the the kitchen or craft section of large retail stores, or craft and hobby stores.

2. Roll out play dough (homemade is the best), and show her how to press cutters into the dough to make a variety of shapes.

Fall Tree

1. Ahead of time: Draw or paint a large brown tree trunk with plenty of branches on a large piece of construction paper (11 x 17 or larger), a cut out paper bag, or other sturdy paper.

2. Draw and cut out at least a dozen leaf shapes from various colors of scrap fabric that represent fall leaves (orange, red, bright yellow). 

3. Help your toddler learn to dot on glue, or rub glue stick or fabric glue on the leaves and place onto the various branches of the tree. This could be a great activity to do on a hard floor, allowing your child to move around while placing the leaves on various tree branches.

Painting With Fall Colors

Give your child several different sizes and kinds of paint brushes (watercolor brushes, real paint brushes, sponge brushes), lots of paper, and let them paint however they want with the colors of the season.

A Few Tips...

  • Be sure to sit with your child and model how to use glue, dip paint brushes into paint and water, etc.
  • Many toddlers are still putting things in their mouth, and craft time is a good opportunity to work on not doing that.
  • Give them the time and freedom to experiment with the different textures: sticky glue, wet paint, the feeling of different kinds of paper. Some children will be bothered by the feel of different materials; others will not.
  • Work on their understanding of verbal directions, but do not expect perfection. The primary goal of doing a craft project at this age should be to introduce them to various materials and let them use their creativity.

More Holiday Help