Crafting with kids can be messy, but it’s loads of fun. It’s also a great way for your toddlers and preschoolers to hone their motor skills, coordination, and artistic flair. But what if you’re all thumbs and better at wielding a ladle than a paintbrush? No need to worry.

Last October, the Lien Foundation in Singapore created Startwell, a campaign to “reclaim the Singapore childhood” through activities and initiatives developed by similarly-minded partners.


The newest initiative is Science of Play. This “recipe book for purposeful play” was developed by 30 preschool teachers with help from the SEED Institute and the Lien Foundation. The teachers volunteered their time and expertise to design craft activities that busy parents can do with their children.

The aim? To remind academically-focused parents of the importance of play, an often-neglected aspect of Singapore childhood.

The 100 (or so, more will be added) activities are divided into themes that embrace childhood play: Dinosaurs, Construction, Animals & Insects, Transportation & Flight, Food & Supermarket, and Others.

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Each activity makes use of readily available items at home or easily collected ones, and takes no more than an hour to complete. Instructions are accompanied by clear, well-planned pictures illustrating every step.

The craft pages also indicate the skills that a child will learn in the process of creating each particular craft. For example, a craft like Thread A Leaf, which is featured below, would help your child to develop fine motor skills like threading, intellectual skills like comparison and observation, emotional skills like appreciation and engagement, and social skills like sharing.

Ready to start? Try these.

LEAF HUNTER

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What: How many types of leaves can you find?
Created by: Audrey Koh, who describes herself as “a passionate early childhood educator”

Step 1

Gather the materials.
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Step 2

Visit the nearest neighbourhood park. (Check out the Nparks website to find out which parks are closest to you.) Pick up as many different types of leaves as you can find. At the end of your hunt, sort the leaves according to their shapes.
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Step 3

Wash and dry the leaves.
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Step 4

Apply the white glue on the leaves and paste them on the coloured papers.
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Step 5

Try to imagine what the leaves could become. For example, a leaf could be the wing of a bird. You could even make an alphabet collage with the leaves!
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THREAD A LEAF

What: Children will weave a piece of yarn in and out of a leaf.
Created by: Ling Bee Lain, Head of K2 Level, St. James’ Church Kindergarten

Step 1

Gather the materials
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Step 2

Take your child/children out on a nature walk, around the neighbourhood or the park. Look out and collect leaves (fallen) of various sizes and colours in a plastic bag. At home, place these leaves on the table. Arrange them either in sizes OR shades of colours (from light to dark).
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Step 3

Have children punch holes around the edges of the larger leaves (about the size of an adult’s palm).
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Step 4

Invite your child/children to weave through the holes along the edges of the leaves. You may tape the end of a piece of yarn for easy threading. Encourage creativity by allowing them to weave along or across the face of the leaves.
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Step 5

Your child may use stickers or markers to decorate the leaves. He/she may create different weave patterns on each leaf.
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THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

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What: Doing this craft gives children a better visual experience of the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
Created by: Kristy Tan, Vice Principal of a childcare centre

Step 1

Gather the materials.
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Step 2

Draw and print the food items that are found in the book. Cut the shape of the food items using scissors.
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Step 3

Cut a hole (big enough for the hand to go through) in the middle. Use glue to paste the plastic eyes on the tip of the sock.
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Step 4

Distribute the food items to the child/children.
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Step 5

Put your hand into the sock and tell the child/children that they are going to feed the hungry caterpillar according to the story.
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Step 6

Read the story. As you read, get the child or children to come up to feed the caterpillar. For instance, “on Tuesday, he ate two pears! Who is holding on to the pears? Come and feed the caterpillar! All right, let’s count one… two…. Two pears.”
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Step 7

Complete reading the story, letting the sock caterpillar ‘eat’ through the fruit cut-outs.

If you and your little ones liked these, do more! You can find other craft ideas at the Science of Play website. You are also invited to contribute your craft ideas (go to ‘Suggest An Activity’ under the ‘Explore Themes’ header), post pictures of completed crafts, share and discuss your experiences with other parents, and use the given hashtags when you share your child’s creations on social media. Grooming a young creator may not always be child’s play, but the process is filled with fun and learning. Most importantly, it will inject a healthy dose of play into your child’s life. And that’s what we want, don’t we?

All images courtesy of Science of Play.

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