The giveaway is now closed and the winner (laureny) has been notified! Thank you so much for your great comments and your support.
When I was a young girl I was very artistic – I loved to create. Through primary school I won some awards and was even selected to create a class mural one year. From year 7 I went to a highly competitive school that had talented individuals not only academically, but creatively. Towards the end of school I found myself feeling “less than” in the art department and was finally steered to advanced placement art history by my favourite art teacher. I think I got the message and rapidly lost touch with my creative side after that and focused on academics and writing.
I was then faced with extremely artistic children. I watched other mothers happily crafting with their children plus sewing up a storm, scrapbooking, even cooking without recipes (talk about living on the edge!) I did not come up with my own ideas for crafts nor did I feel 100% comfortable in that realm anymore. I know other mothers feel the same with their young children so I thought I would share some of the resources and tips that have helped me over the years.
Don’t fear the crafting – except maybe glitter because that stuff is evil and gets everywhere!
Tips for handling craft sessions and reducing your stress levels:
- Read through the instructions and supply list carefully if it is not an open ended project. As a non crafter I tend to miss things that are implied – figure it out first. Some instructions definitely assume a crafting knowledge!
- Lose any expectations you have – this will make it more enjoyable for everyone. Most kids love the process of creating more than anything so do not worry if your toddler pours so much paste that you have to stick random things just to cover it up.
- Tailor the craft to your age groups – as my kids were growing up between the ages of 2 and 6 there were times I found a craft that was perfect for one child and not the other. To keep it simple, figure out how to tailor the craft to the other child/ren as well rather than having them play at a higher level. If it calls for cutting and your toddler is not up to the task, but your 4yo enjoys the practice – prep the night before and cut the pieces needed for the toddler so they are ready to go to the gluing or assembly stage with your help. Everyone still gets to craft together, but with less stress.
- Learn from that classic kids show “Playschool” and create a useful box – we collect random bits of recycling like toilet paper tubes, styrofoam pieces, (rare and wonderful) white cardboard, bottle tops of all sizes and shapes, empty spools from thread, ribbon scraps and wrapping paper from parties, etc. If you provide children with this box of goodies and an endless stash of glue or tape they will create whatever they want while you play along or watch.
- Don’t feel you have to come up with your own craft ideas – there are a lot of great resources from websites to blogs to kids magazines (see below). Consider yourself the facilitator and don’t worry about being crafty if you are not.
- Buy kits that include directions and supplies so you can relax and enjoy the crafting session (see below for a giveaway)
- Plus two tips from Janice at Learning 4 kids (see below for her site and ebook):
Craft activities with kids should be viewed as spending special time together and enjoying the process of creating something, with less emphasis on the perfection of the end product.
Mornings are a great time to do activities with kids as they are less tired. Plan and have everything you need ready and on hand before starting. Use recycled yoghurt tubs and meat trays to reduce clean up as you can throw these away. Keep the craft activity simple, it doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, less is best!! It is about having fun together, learning through play and feeling proud of what has been created.
Best craft blogs I used in the toddler and preschooler years
The Crafty Crow - features an enormous volume of craft ideas each week so you are bound to find something that appeals to everyone.
No Time for Flashcards - I first found this site when it started and Lulu was 3 years old. I returned for the first time in ages this week and was amazed at how the site has grown! We loved doing the weekly “letter of the week” crafts while Alice was at preschool and I still remember O for Octopus fondly. There are now activities and crafts in all areas including science and sensory with crafts sorted by type or age group.
Kids Craft Weekly - Amber’s newsletter was a great resource for me to access. You can go through her archives and see them all – so many simple yet creative crafts using mainly supplies you would keep on hand. There are also pdf files available for purchase on themes like Christmas crafts.
Blogs and sites I continue to use now that we are school age and mostly self directed – these sites have grown with me as our kids age together.
Let’s Explore - I adore Amy’s blog and still subscribe. She has downloads, ideas galore, talks about kid’s reading and writing, and shares her great finds (other websites, products etc)
Filth Wizardry - for preschoolers and beyond. Full of great and unique ideas.
The Artful Parent - another mother of 2 girls I love the ideas Jean shares. She also has her arts and crafts projects organised by type so if you are in the mood to let the kids paint you can find a project idea.
Sites new to me that I wish I had when my girls were young
Learning 4 Kids - Janice has created a wonderful site all about learning through play – creative and pretend play, sensory ideas, learning through music and more. She has just launched her first FREE ebook which is full of great activities for Christmas. The ebook features loads of ideas for your toddler and preschooler crowd, but even my 6 and 8 year old girls will love to do the “moving parts Santa” craft and other activities.
Childhood 101 - A fantastic Aussie site created by Christie that covers all areas of childhood. For the sake of this post I direct you to the create and make categories and also to her playzine that is on offer for $4.
Pinterest – What an amazing resource this is for crafting. You can search for almost anything (“reindeer craft” anyone?) and you have a visual overview before you even start clicking on ideas. You can follow people’s craft ideas pin boards, write a comment on a pin asking someone a question about the craft and create your own board full of ideas!
Boxed Play- this is the answer for all those parents who want someone else to sort out craft time for their kids.
Andrea has created a craft club of sorts – there is a startup box of supplies, you can join the site for access to song sheets, recipes, a newsletter etc. and then there are blocks of 10 weeks where you receive 10 Activity envelopes allowing you to have a coordinated craft each week with explicit instructions, suggested extension activities, songs to sing, questions to ask and books to read. The kits are designed for 2 kids and you can purchase the activity envelopes as stand alone products if you already have a stocked craft cupboard. She is a mum who knows her stuff and is providing a complete package for our kids. I think this is the kind of programme I would have requested from the Grandparents each year for the kids’ birthdays and Christmas rather than more toys and clothes.
Offline resources / Books that we love
Ed Emberley books – If you have a child that loves to draw, these books (any of them) teach them how to draw anything in a very clear manner. After they used Ed’s method for a while my kids felt confident to tackle drawing very complex and detailed images with their own style. What he does is break it down for them into the building blocks that most images consist of (ie rectangles, a circle here, 2 triangles there…). We have the animals and make a world books and have borrowed his thumbprint books.
Usborne books - They have the most amazing craft and activity books – we love them all and I highly recommend “365 things to make and do” and “365 things to do with paper and cardboard”. I just let the girls browse through for inspiration and we often have the supplies on hand for whatever takes their fancy. If you have older artists a big hit last Christmas was the set of art cards of famous paintings. My 6-8 year olds love seeing the different styles as they explore concepts like pointilism and still life drawings.
Giveaway from Boxed Play
Today Andrea is also providing your very own complete package in the form of 1 x 10 week programme for one of you. One Australian based winner will receive 10 Activity envelopes which include all the specific supplies for the crafts (any basic supplies like paint and crayons will need to be added by you).
Leave a comment telling me about your favourite crafting activity to do with your children or something you would like to try now that you feel brave!
For bonus entries: leave an additional comment for each one you do.
1 extra entry if you like Boxed Play on facebook
1 extra entry if you are a Facebook fan of my Home Life Simplified page.
Terms and conditions:
Open to Australian residents.
Giveaway closes November 30 (Wednesday) 6pm Brisbane time
Winner will be notified by email and if I have not received a reply within 48 hours I will draw another winner.
Contest is not affiliated with Facebook in any way and will take place on this blog including announcement of winner.
Find your simple,
Image credits: Creativity is
I am linking this post up with Creativity for kids in January 2012 – I am so happy to have recently discovered this wonderful site and hope it will help anyone who comes across this post in the future!