Let's get crafty at Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get crafty with your children. We are big fans of fingerprint and handprint crafts which are not only simple to make but are a treasured record of tiny hands for grandparents and other special relatives. While a few pipe cleaners and a handful of beads can be turned into a pretty Christmas tree decoration.

GET CRAFTY THIS CHRISTMAS Here are just a few of our favourite ideas - easy enough for pre-schoolers with a little help from parents, but also equally popular with older children. Fingerprint Christmas tree card You'll need green and brown paint - or you could use ink pads - card, glue, and sequins. Children dip their thumb in the green paint and create a triangle shape by applying six thumbprints in a straight line for the bottom of the tree, five in a row above, then four, three, two and one until they have a Christmas tree shape. Then it's just a case of adding two thumbprints in brown paint to make the trunk. To add a bit of sparkle to the festive tree glue on sequin 'decorations'. With a bit of imagination, the fingerprinting technique can be also be used to make snowmen and reindeer. Handprint Rudolph picture Creating a picture featuring festive favourite Rudolph, using handprints for his antlers, requires light and dark brown card or thick paper and felt tip pens or crayons. If you have the artistic flair, draw Rudoph's face onto a light brown card and children can then colour in his facial features. Alternatively, there are plenty of downloadable templates online. Older children could cut out eyes, nose, and mouth from bits of coloured paper and stick them in place. Draw around both of your child's hands and cut them out - youngsters with scissor-skills could do this themselves - and simply glue them on the reverse of Rudoph's head at an angle to make the antlers. Candy cane decoration With pipe cleaners and a few red and white beads, youngsters can create a super-sweet candy cane ornament to hang on the Christmas tree. Twist a knot at the end of the pipe cleaner and then ask children to thread on red and white beads in a repeating pattern to the end. Twist the other end, so the beads stay put and bend into a candy cane shape. While one candy cane will look delicious, a dozen decorating the tree will look even more eye-catching. BENEFITS OF GETTING CRAFTY Arts and craft activities are not only fun for young children but also benefit their development. As well as giving children the opportunity to express themselves, become more creative and confident, crafting also hones their fine motor skills. Drawing lines and shapes all require dexterity and using both hands helps with bilateral coordination. Scissor activities help develop a range of fine motor skills that use the small muscles in the hand required for writing. Our craft ideas include all of the above, plus the candy cane decoration is ideal for getting to grips with repeating patterns and practicing counting.

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