#1. Children's Scissors
I often hear, "Oh Mrs. B, you're brave!" when a parent walks into my classroom a sees scissors at each child's spot for our Table Time activity. What they mean is... "My child has never came into contact with scissors, except when I wasn't paying attention and they cut their hair into a mullet."
Children learn in many different ways. But some things are learned best by doing, by trying. If I simply explain how to hold the scissors, but never give them an opportunity to use them, to try them, can I expect that suddenly in Kindergarten they will pick up pair and cut like a pro? Absolutely not. We often use scissors in preschool, and still we are correcting grip and teaching them how to hold and turn the paper. Practice makes perfect.
They love to chop things to smithereens! Give them a magazine or the junk mail. Give them post cards that come in the mail to invite you to somebody's home party. Give them scissors and let them go. It is not necessary to make them practice cutting lines or shapes. Just cutting something into tiny unrecognizable pieces will result in fruitful building of fine motor skills and comfort using scissors. Don't be scared, give them the scissors! :)
I like Wescott brand, but Fiskars is great too. You can usually find these at the beginning of the school year for about $2. Or you can grab them here.
#2 Dot Painters
I am up for any type of paint, but if you want to make a minimal mess these are the painters for you. You can usually find them at Michael's for about $15.00 a set. Use a 40% off coupon and that makes them about $9. Totally worth it. You can choose from a few different sets of colors, each set containing six painters. You can also buy them here.
#3 Free Art
Save the TP tubes and egg cartons. Grab a bin and fill it with recycled items, unused coffee filters, paper, glue and markers. Don't forget the scissors. Throw in a roll of tape (this makes a great fine motor activity). Then, just let them go. Give them the opportunity to create and use their imagination! When they are looking at an app, video game or TV show, kiddos are simply accepting what someone else has put in front of them. This does not necessarily foster the best environment for them to explore their own creativity.
So spend the $20.00 and give them an opportunity to learn through doing and to be creative!