1. Make this: Bath-Time Animal Buddies
Appeals to: The kid who loves to make a splash
What kids gain: Fine motor skills, imagination, creativity
What you’ll need: Plain sponges without scratch pads (one sponge for each animal); paper; marker, scissors
What to Do:
Before you start: Draw or print out animal shapes you find online if you feel your child would rather trace than draw freehand. Just make sure the template you use is the right size for the sponges.
Step 1: Have your child make an outline of his favorite animal on a sponge, either by drawing freehand or by tracing the animal shape. Assist your budding artist with tracing and next, cutting, if necessary.
Step 2: Cut out the sponge animal along the lines.
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 to create as many sponge animals as your child wants.
What to do next: Tidy up, grab a few, and off to the bath you go!
2. Make this: A Sponge-Paint Masterpiece
Appeals to: Your future Picasso
What kids gain: Fine motor skills, pattern making, creative decision-making
What you’ll need: Sponges; kid-safe, washable, water-based paint in multiple colors; disposable bowls—one for each color; craft, construction, or white paper; newspapers or a drop cloth, to contain the enthusiasm and mess!
What to Do:
Step 1: Cover crafting surface with newspapers or drop cloth.
Step 2: Draw or find fanciful printable shapes online. Include a moon, the sun, stars, flowers, even butterflies. Help your child trace the shapes and cut the sponges as needed.
Step 3: Pour paint into bowls—one for each color. Place on crafting surface.
Step 4: Help your child gently dunk one side of each of the shaped sponges into a color of her choice, and show her how to stamp or dab them onto the paper. For a different effect, show your child how to drag sponges instead of stamp them.
Step 5: Let the masterpiece dry.
What to do next: Display it, perhaps, at The Louvre, or maybe in prime real estate at home!
3. Make this: Sponge Puzzles
Appeals to: Your future fashion or interior designer, or engineer
What kids gain: Fine motor skills, creativity, logic, spatial reasoning, resourcefulness
What you’ll need: One large pack of sponges (without scratch pads); a marker; scissors; a printable 7-piece tangram template, available online
What to Do:
Step 1: Print and cut out the tangram and each of the individual geometric shapes, called tans, that make up that design.
Step 2: Help your child use a marker to trace the paper tans onto sponges—one tan per sponge.
Step 3. Cut and separate the tans so your child sees he has seven in all.
Step 4: Encourage your puzzle master to let his imagination run wild as he rearranges the tans and fits them together to form his own unique, creative patterns.
What to do next: Look for other tangrams online—including animals, boats, and rockets. Your child will love arranging the pieces to mimic the shapes, and he’ll boost his spatial understanding at the same time!