Children love to experiment with colors and textures. They love to make things themselves and love giving gifts.
This writer was born to craft. As a very young child, construction paper, a roll of scotch tape, a pair of blunt point scissors, and a small box of Crayola crayons yielded jeweled crowns, flowers, and paper dolls.
Art class in elementary school brought new ideas. Play dough, colored tissue paper, macaroni, paint – even ordinary crayons were opportunities to examine and experiment with light, color, texture, depth, and layering. Attempts to recreate projects at home – often with a substitution of materials – brought their own interesting variations.
Sunday School, Brownies and Girl Scouts, day camp, and craft kits provided more opportunities for creativity and construction. Church and community fairs, particularly around the autumn and winter holidays, provided a wealth of inspiration for new craft projects to give as gifts. Craft stores and catalogues provided inspiration, as well.
Children grow up and become Moms and Grandmothers, and time is usually too precious to spend it on complicated, time-consuming crafts projects. But, sharing a love of crafts with grandchildren is one of the many benefits of being a grandparent. Not only do children benefit by spending time with their grandparents, but they also love making things with their own two hands.
With thought and effort and a great deal of patience, adults can adapt craft projects for children of almost any age. Craft stores often have clearance bins, and some stores have sales every week. Salvaged materials (paper towel tubes and wire coat hangers, for example), things found in nature (pine cones, acorns, and milkweed pods, to name a few), and re-purposed items (such as small jars, colorful bottle caps) can be used for many craft projects that also provide an opportunity for learning and experimentation.
Very young children especially love colors and textures and working with their hands.
Anna P. was just two years old when she created her own Christmas cards. Tracing a large cookie cutter onto a re-purposed green file folder gave Anna two large trees, one for Great Grampa and one for Great Gramma.
With her tiny but surprisingly nimble fingers, Anna intently peeled glittery stickers from their backing and stuck them carefully to her Christmas tree. Then she gleefully squeezed Elmer’s Glue (by herself, with only a little help from her grandmother) onto pom poms, blew on the glue to make it more tacky, then pressed the gluey orbs onto her tree using her personal guidance system. Once the pom poms were gone, and being merrily unrestrained by an adult’s thinking that stars go on top of a Christmas tree, Anna peeled the adhesive backing from foam stars (salvaged from another craft kit) and wantonly scattered them on the tree around her stickers and pom poms.
In the end, both Christmas trees were prominently displayed, with Anna proudly pointing them out to everyone with whom she came into contact and declaring, “I made that!”
Anna’s younger sister Natalie, fifteen months younger, has also expressed an interest in crafts, albeit she still tries to taste test most things.
Try to see things from a child’s point of view as you gather materials: colorful Styrofoam trays; fat, round pine cones; pretty stones and shells; ribbons; buttons and beads; colorful bottle caps; acrylic paints; bits of yarn, plastic canvas, fabric scraps, and squares of felt; mint tins; small glass jars and pretty bottles; googly eyes; stickers; and anything else that catches your fancy.
Supplies should include glue; Tacky and Elmer’s Glue and glue sticks work well on many projects, but while hot glue guns work well on some projects, care should be taken around younger children – even low temperature glue guns can burn. Pinking sheers and scissors that make fancy cuts are good to have, as are regular scissors and paper punches. Scotch, painters, and masking tapes come in handy at various times. A ruler, paper clips, straight pins, fabric pencils, and rubber bands are also handy items to have on hand.
Clearance bins in craft stores such as A.C. Moore (http://www.acmoore.com) and Joann Fabrics (http://www.joann.com) often have stickers, beads, ribbons, acrylic paints, and fabric markers at deep discounts.
We will have the opportunity to meet crafters and artists, visit fairs and museums, and explore some local shops as we seek inspiration for kid-friendly craft projects throughout the year. Your suggestions are always welcome.