I love crafting with the children. No surprise there. I believe that encouraging creativity is just as important as, for example, learning your times tables. Being able to use either skill will be helpful in the future, but each skill needs to be practised otherwise it all becomes rusty. I’m not suggesting that these are the only two subjects that should be practised. The list is infinite.
When crafting with the children, I think the types of projects can be split into three. There are projects that I gather all the materials, maybe make an example and give them only enough support to enable them to tackle the project.
The second kind of projects comes out of boxes with perfect pictures and instructions.
The third kind of project is left totally up to them.
I like craft kits, but I find them limiting for the children. The photos of the end result are professionally made and the children, especially BL, become frustrated by not making a carbon copy. Both girls insist on following the rules as set out in the instructions. Inevitably, I end up helping more than I planned. This becomes a different experience, which of course they gain from in maybe a less hands on way.
They enjoy it when we all sit down to do the same project, with only my non-detailed instructions. They have the materials and we all make our own version, such as when we made the blossom bookmarks. There is no right or wrong, just your own interpretation.
The craft projects I find most intriguing are the ones when they do everything from concept to conclusion on their own. BL does this probably the most. She will ask for paint or paper and just gets on with it. She has ready access to most of the craft materials. The painted and glitter glue shells are hers, as well as the polar bear tile. Inspiration for these projects could have come from anywhere.
To me, the very best craft presents given to my children have been packages of craft materials. Their very own paper, card, stickers, glue (very important), lollipop sticks, pipe cleaners, pom-poms and so on. Throw in imagination and you’ve got it. They find their own route to create what is in their mind’s eye. They can practise their creativity. Honing their ability to problem solve at the same time. And maybe, just maybe, in the future they will thank the donor for empowering them to use their creativity to solve bigger problems. Who knows.
Edited: Happy coincidences. After writing this, I popped over to Pink and Green Mama. She is writing a series of posts about her favourite art supplies for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Tomorrow she is covering school age art supplies. Thought I’d add a link as it complimented this post!