DIY Creative Play Ideas

6 min read

Last Modified 26 April 2024 First Added 26 April 2024

Author Katy

The most mundane of household items can spark creativity for small children. A pile of scrap paper can become a fantasy landscape, discarded boxes transform into a new robot best friend, toilet roll tubes become a marble run and tissue paper can become a beautiful stained-glass window…

There are so many wonderful creative projects to inspire you online, we thought we would pull together some of our favourites to share as part of our Creativity Learning skill.

Scrap Paper, Card and Crafty Bits

A stash of scrap paper and crafty additions is useful for many art, craft and DIY projects. It’s easy to start, find a sturdy box or container (a biscuit tin was always the go-to for us!) and start collecting interesting scraps. Wallpaper samples, colourful magazine pages, Christmas cards and wrapping, interesting packaging and lettering, tissue paper, sweet wrappers, ribbons, sequins, buttons…anything small and colourful enough to glue to a page could spark their inspiration.

Very young children will enjoy gluing precut shapes, and as they get a little older they can cut and stick independently to create a collaged masterpiece. Try cutting squares for a colourful mosaic, recreate a beach scene, or give them lots of glittery stars, sequins and some black paper so they can dream up a sparkly cosmos.

We love this detailed guide to making beautiful paper flowers and this Frozen-inspired paper doll. Simple origami is a fun way to improve their fine motor skills as well as create fun objects from paper – try this guide to very simple origami for young children.

Paint Projects

Paint is the perfect creative medium for little ones, it’s bright, colourful and gives so much scope for different creative projects. Handprints are a great place to start with very little ones, and the texture adds another layer of sensory exploration. Spark an early love of painting by creating something unique from their handprint,  we love all of these ideas for handprint animals and other crafts

Your child’s early paintings might not resemble much, but offer plenty of praise and encouragement and show them how much their art means by displaying around your home or cut out smaller artworks and stick to folded paper to create cards that family members will treasure.

As they grow, offer more complex activities such as this interesting scratch-art idea, these fun potato print activities or switch it up by painting with ice.

The Soft Stuff

There are so many ways to create creative play opportunities with shop-bought or homemade play dough. Make your own slime and playdough with these easy recipes, or shop our full Soft Stuff range below for a huge selection of colours, textures, tools and playsets.

If you are looking for DIY projects and fun learning activities, what about this adorable home ice cream parlour? Add in exchanging play money for your ice cream to boost the learning opportunities. We also love this idea for setting up a play dough bakery, it’s absolutely packed with ideas for improving your child’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as well as expressing their creativity.

You can also set your child mini ‘challenges’ to create something out of dough. You might only offer one or two colours at a time to avoid the dreaded brown sludge of them mixed together, but theres still plenty of scope for making some wonderful creations. What about make the best monster, car, alien plant, their favourite food (a paper plate will pull their play dough meal together!) or anything you can think of. Friendly competition between siblings can drive creativity too, you could even fashion a winner’s trophy to offer the best playdougher of the day.

If you need more ideas for getting creative with playdough,  try these playdough monsters (with a fun counting element!) or what about this Space themed activity for extra sparkle and a fun science learning opportunity…

Making Music

Music is an important creative outlet for many adults, and fostering an early love of creating their own will set them on a path of enjoying music for their whole lives. At Early Learning Centre, we stock lots of fun, exciting musical instruments and toys for your little ones to play and learn with, but you don’t need to spend money to create great music. You could make this elastic band guitar or a lollystick harmonica. Or what about these noise-makers, easy to make and they look great.

Start a family band, give prompts for creating tunes, and get involved by learning the words to songs that they make up.

Making music improves memory and concentration. It’s also a really positive way for children to express themselves. Feelings and emotions can be overwhelming for little ones, and playing an instrument or singing gives them a way to express how they are feeling, share their joy, or even work through what’s bothering them.

We hope we’ve given you some ideas for getting creative at home. Whatever activities you offer, always let your child take the lead, maximise activities that they enjoy by adding new dynamics or mediums and offer plenty of encouragement and praise, even if they show frustration. As you encourage them to grow in confidence, let them try new things, make a mess and create something that they really enjoy. Encouraging creativity has proven benefits across all areas of their growth and development and you’ll be spending quality time making wonderful childhood memories with them too.

Engaging in creative activities offers children more than just a fun. It unlocks their imagination and fosters critical thinking skills. By allowing kids to explore and experiment in a hands-on way, these activities help develop their problem-solving abilities, emotional intelligence and understanding of self-expression.Ultimately, nurturing creativity through DIY projects equips children with the confidence and innovative mindset they’ll need to navigate life’s challenges.

For more information on how creativity is an important developmental tool, visit the next article in our Learning Skills series; The Benefits of Cultivating Creativity in Children.

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About the Author


Expert in Miniverse

Katy Clouds is the newest addition to our writing team packing nearly 10 years experience in online copywriting and several awards.

Katy is a serious Miniverse collector and follows all the latest trends in miniatures – look out for lots of collectibles content from her coming soon!

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