Match holiday crafts to your child's creative strengths

Dec 18, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. ET

This holiday season, nurture your child's creativity with crafts and activities that are geared toward their natural strengths and tendencies.

Child cutting dough with cookie cutter

Contributed by Susie Monday

Got a tactile-learner? A kid who loves to dance? Or maybe your child really loves color? While every child has a constellation of sensory alphabet strengths (shape, color, movement and sound are just a few), your child probably has one or two that really stand out — that you notice in his or her art work or in elements of his or her collections and activities. The craft-making season provides ways for parents to nurture these strengths and make the holiday season more personal!


Is your child’s art always full of shapes? Cut out cookies! Make the process easier and faster by using dough from the grocery store refrigerator case. Find imaginative cookie cutters and combine shapes to make your own holiday inventions.


Make "stained glass" cookies with color-loving kids, using bread stick dough. Shape it to make the "leading" on a cookie sheet topped with foil. Use crushed colored sugar candies in the spaces, cook and melt at 350 degrees until the candies melt. Let cool before peeling off the foil.


Let sound-oriented kids make a holiday wind chime with metal, glass and wooden craft-store finds. And you can put your sound kid in charge of caroling!

video cameraMovement

Is your child always on the go? Your little movers can create a holiday skit, videotape it and play it back for relatives after Christmas dinner or during other holiday shindigs.


Appoint the light-loving child as the official photographer for holiday events. A lesson in digital app photo editing (PhotoPad is free for the iPad) or in designing digital slideshows or print-on-demand books puts this creative eye into action.


With your rhythm kid, fill small glass jars (such as baby food jars or small jelly jars) with a tablespoon of different shakable items such as beans, rice, red-and-green beads, and metal washers. Decorate the lids with foil tied around the tops and stickers for patterns. Shake along to holiday tunes and carols.

red ribbonTexture

A tactile child is the perfect one to wrap it up. Make bows, ribbons, homemade tassels and other embellishments for gifts and use wax crayon rubbings or sponge-and-paint prints on plain white shelf paper for custom gift wrap.


A linear thinker loves stories. Put him or her to work making handmade holiday books using photos that tell a story about one of your family traditions. Start with folded paper with a construction paper cover, hole-punched and tied with string or stitched down the center on the sewing machine for the binding.

cardboard boxesSpace

For little builders, create a holiday village using recycled boxes wrapped in plain paper, turned into houses with stickers, markers, doilies and colored paper. For the more ambitious, construct a gingerbread house.

Matching a creative thinking strength to the right set of materials and a fun challenge can make it more fun — and help your child build from his or her strengths.

About the author

Susie Monday is an educator, artist and co-author of The Missing Alphabet, A Parents’ Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids, with Susan Marcus and Dr. Cynthia Herbert.

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