I love asking for the Dumpling’s help in my arts and crafts because it’s a great way for us to work together…even if she’s more troublesome than helpful most of the time. Now that she’s older, I began involving her in more steps throughout the process whereas in the past, she was only responsible for only one task (or the entire activity consisted of only one task).
One of the first “big girl” projects we did was making suncatchers out of tissue paper for Valentine’s Day. There are many tutorials online—I just tweaked and combined steps from various ones to suit the needs of working with a two year old.
- Tissue paper cut into squares
- Plastic tray or plate (make sure it’s bendable)
- Elmer’s glue diluted with equal amounts of water
Notes Before Starting
Whenever the Dumpling is involved, I always do the prep work behind the scenes beforehand. For example, I had the tissue paper cut and the glue diluted at the start of the activity to avoid dealing with my daughter growing impatient.
I brought out only the supplies needed at each step. For example, I had the tray and tissue paper out during step one and kept the glue hidden until step two. Otherwise the Dumpling would fidget with the glue prematurely.
I also learned that activities often don’t go as planned with a toddler. If I ask the Dumpling to do X and she ends up doing Y, then Y it is! Even though it’s frustrating at times, I have come to accept that exploration is more important than results at this stage.
Step 1: Layer the pieces of tissue paper onto the plastic tray
This was actually a good exercise for the Dumpling to practice her fine motor skills since the tissue paper required gentle handling—she crumpled and ripped a few, but casualties were expected. I was on the sidelines spreading clumps apart, filling in thin areas, and putting the pieces back into the tray because she kept taking them out after she was done.
Step 2: Drench the tissue paper with the glue mixture
I put the diluted glue in an old plastic sauce container for the Dumpling to pour in. To prevent her from taking the now wet tissue paper out (yep, she was still at it), I took the tray away immediately and thanked her for a job well done. Yay!
Yes—that’s it. She helped with two steps.
Step 3: Let the tissue paper dry completely and peel off
The entire sheet should come off easily without tearing.
Step 4: Cut into hearts or other desired shapes
The Dumpling was quite pleased with the results, but it took her a while to realize that these are fragile (the epiphany came after destroying the fourth one) and needed to be handled with care.
Craft Idea #1: Instead of taping the hearts on a window like traditional suncatchers, I strung them into a mobile and hung it inside the Dumpling’s tent.
Craft Idea #2: Use them in Valentine’s Day cards.