We have done a wide range of art activities with kids at Kids Build Together, from playdough to painting, papercraft and printing.
A lot of parents dread craft time, and the most frequently heard comment is “I spent half an hour putting an activity together for them – and they spend thirty seconds on it!”
My answer to that is – don’t. Don’t look on pinterest for cute seasonal craft ideas. Don’t think about what you want your child to make at all – it should be entirely up to them.
You have probably heard “process, not product”.
We have a display cabinet at Kids Build Together where the children can display the artwork or building creations they are proud of. Sometimes a screwed up piece of paper is in that display cabinet. It may not mean much at all to you – but it might be the very proud product of a very complex process in a child’s mind.
So what is your role in the crafting process?
Over time, give them access to a wide range of materials such as clay, playdough, paper of different kinds, art pastels, pencils, textas, different kinds of paint, glue, sticky tape, collage materials like feathers or sparkles, pipe cleaners, large beads.
Find a space that isn’t too stressful to clean up. Outdoors is often the best space for this.
Show them some basic techniques and make the boundaries clear, from “don’t eat the playdough” to “wash your brush between colours”. Be firm, calm, and prepared to repeat until it sinks in. More detailed techniques as they get older might be how to observe something they are drawing, eg “you’re drawing the flower with one leaf, how many does it actually have?”
– Craft with them
Paint your own picture, create your own sculpture. Enjoy yourself.
Take photos of the process of crafting not just the product – pay attention to the hard work, the thoughtfulness, not the outcome.
In the early days, make a regular crafting time where you introduce techniques and materials (without saying what you want them to make). As the children get older, let them have access to the materials (or at least know where they are and try to say ‘yes’ to their requests), so that they can use these materials to explore ideas and learn about the world. You will find that children will work longest when it is something they are deeply interested in, where it is their own agenda and not yours driving the craft.
Exploring Spirals –