Before you start......
Mess is a necessary aspect of creativity, so it shouldn't be discouraged. But you can limit the damage by providing protective clothing (an apron or a parent's old shirt) worn over play clothes that don't matter much. Restrict the activity to one place which can be easily cleaned, and protect your working surface with newspaper or plastic. A balcony of a back porch is also a good place since mess can be easily cleaned.
First demonstrate the activity to the child, then encourage the child to try it. Give your child space to experiment and allow him or her to repeat the activity at some other time.
Children need to experience the process - the end result is not so important to them For example, somce children simply want to crumble up the play dough rather than form shapes out of it. Or they might want to create coloured water with paints rather than actually use the brush to paint a picture. So don't aim for perfection or try to improve on the child's work to make it look better. Allow them to experience the joy of creating. Give them the freedom to make mistakes. Let play time simply be a relaxed time where you let your children take the lead and enjoy seeing the delight on their faces.
Don't hurry the child. Even if you have only 15 minutes to spare, be fully present during that time. It's more important that your child has fun instead of only completing the activity.
By doing the activity with your child, you help him/ her build focus and of course give the qulaity time that they long for. Young children below age 5 are more likely to sustain attention if a patient adult is there with them. Even if you do not join in the activity, make sure you are nearby and can intervene or assist when needed.
A few fun activities you can arrange for your child to indulge in are given below.
Cutting and Pasting pictures from magazines
Coloured Sand, pebbles
Colouring Rice or Macaroni, sorting different coloured beans like rajma, channa, etc. into plastic containers. You could use muffin trays or ice trays as they also work well for sorting.
Using play dough
Colouring and Painting
Ladies finger printing
Cotton bud painting, finger and feet painting
Crayon Resist – this is a technique where you draw a picture/design with white crayon or wax candle, then lightly brush the whole paper with watered down paint of any colour. The parts drawn in crayon will resist the paint and the picture will magically show up. For more ideas/instructions look up 'Pinterest' or 'Google'.
Water/ Sponge Play
Playing with stickers
Story- telling or reading storybooks together