Arts and crafts are fun for all ages. And did you know that you get lifelong benefits from these types of creative projects?
According to education.com, young children benefit from arts and crafts in a variety of ways, such as:
- Using items like pencils and crayons to learn fine muscle control and hand-eye coordination.
- Gaining perceptual abilities from colors, shapes, and textures.
- Making choices and problem solving, such as deciding on colors and techniques for their artwork.
- Experiencing success through accomplishing their own personal creations.
- Learning scientific principles like states of matter with liquid paint that dries to a solid.
Those are some great reasons to craft with kids. But kids aren’t the only ones who benefit.
Research shows cognitive benefits of continuing creative pursuits such as craft activities throughout life and into old age. (See recent studies here and here.)
When you craft with kids, you benefit too!
Ready to get crafty? Here are a few tips for crafting with kids that I’ve learned over the years to make things easier.
10 tips for crafting with kids
- Plan for the mess. Arts and crafts with kids have a way of getting messy! Don’t let that deter you, though. Think through your activity and plan for any messes that may happen. Some steps to consider? Cover the table and/or floor with an inexpensive tablecloth, drop cloth, shower curtain, or newspapers. Have kids wear old clothes, a craft apron, or even one of your old shirts to cover up. Even take the whole project outside if it’s feasible in order to plan ahead and help keep the mess contained.
- Determine the right amount of time. Setting up a craft project and then cleaning up afterward can take some work. Be sure you have the time to complete the whole project you have planned so you don’t have to stop, clean up, and then start again to finish it later. On the other hand, don’t make it too long. Younger children can’t sit still and focus on projects for too long. They’ll get bored and fussy. If you have older and younger children, perhaps plan for younger children to complete a shorter project and have another activity for them while older children finish something more complex.
- Keep realistic expectations. Not every child is going to be artistically gifted, and young kids aren’t going to produce beautiful projects each time. It’s about the process and not just the end result. Be patient with mistakes, and don’t take over for them. It’s just a childhood craft project. Be sure they know it’s OK if it’s not perfect.
- Make something yourself. You want to end up with a perfect birdhouse from the craft project you planned? It’s probably wise to just make your own. You will be less tempted to take over for your child, and you will have the finished craft that you envisioned. It’s also easier to teach by example while doing it yourself. If your kids are engaged in a project they can do on their own, it may be tempting to do something else while they’re occupied, but arts and crafts projects give you a good opportunity to spend time together, talk, and bond over a shared experience.
- Give clear instructions. Make sure children have a clear understanding of what you want them to do. Remind yourself to be patient and repeat instructions as many times as needed. Little hands often work slowly, and children who are preoccupied with one task can’t always think ahead and remember what to do next. Clear communication at the right time in the task is key.
- Encourage new skills. Sometimes kids will balk at trying something new – especially if they are the perfectionist type or get frustrated trying to learn something. But they’ll never know if they can do it if they don’t try. Don’t set expectations too high, but encourage kids to give their best effort toward a new skill, whether it’s painting a birdhouse or learning to draw a lion. Make sure they know it’s OK to make mistakes, and encourage them not to give up – without pressuring them too much.
- Enable self expression. That lion picture turned out to be purple and green? It’s a child’s way of exploring different possibilities. Arts and crafts are a great way for children to experience things on their own terms. Get children involved in picking projects they want to do. Be sure to allow plenty of opportunities to be creative (art). Don’t just plan projects that have a defined goal (craft).
- Make sure tools and materials are age appropriate. If cutting, gluing, etc. are involved, can your child handle those tasks? If so, be sure to have the safety scissors and nontoxic glue stick ready. If there’s a task your child can’t handle, consider having that part done ahead of time to keep the project moving. If you have to stop and do part of the project yourself, your child may lose interest or argue over wanting to do it without help. Know your child and think through any steps that may be problematic. And always keep dangerous small pieces away from young children!
- Be patient. I mentioned this in some of the tips above, but it’s worth repeating for any activity with kids. Patience is required!
- Have fun! Arts and crafts projects are meant to be fun. If you’re finding it stressful to plan and execute arts and crafts projects, you may want to find a way to simplify and make it more fun. Put on some music you all like, or just chat as you work, but keep it fun and enjoy the time together!
Do you have any other tips for crafting with kids? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Craftsy Giveaway – March 2016
Thinking through some craft ideas? Well Craftsy wants to make it easy for you!
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In celebration of National Craft Month, Craftsy is giving away a mystery box of crafting supplies. Enter to win a mystery supplies box for you and a friend!
Craftsy is giving away a special mystery box full of some of the Craftsy Supplies Shop’s most popular offerings for your craft. Valued at $700, this mystery box is ready to be transformed into your next show-stopping project.
Enter anytime before 11:59 p.m. March 31, 2016 — it’s fast, easy and free! Craftsy will notify the winner via email and ask them to share the name of the friend they’d like to receive the other box.
Craftsy has tons of craft supplies available for your next project. Check out their everyday clearance on craft supplies.
They also have a variety of free online classes that can help you plan your next craft project! Some of these classes are great for kids!