How to Get Creative with Kids, Even if You “Aren’t Crafty”
Making things – drawing, painting, playing with clay – is important for kids. Arts and crafts develop motor and critical thinking skills, patience, creativity and problem solving. Depending on the project they can also give you a few moments’ peace while making dinner, or be something fun you can work on together to create cherished memories. But it can be difficult to encourage creativity in your kids if you don’t feel very crafty yourself.
The good news is it’s not that hard to get started.
You don’t have to dedicate a lot of space, time or money to building a crafty space, but having some essentials on hand and accessible will make crafty times easier, more pleasant and more frequent.
My list of essential crafting supplies for kids includes white and colored construction paper, crayons and markers, paint, stickers, scissors, glue and tape.
Paper plates are great to hold paint and can be cut up for a lot of different projects. Other supplies like clay, beads and other goodies can be purchased as you like or if your child shows interest in those crafts.
It’s great if you can keep all of your art supplies together, in or as close to the area where they will be used as possible. When my daughter was little she painted in her high chair at the kitchen table, so I kept paint, paper and a large T-shirt for her to wear in a nearby bookshelf.
A plastic tub can hold a lot and gives your child a place to put things away when they’re done.
I know the potential for mess keeps a lot of mamas from wanting to let their kids do crafts, but you are in control of what is used and how. If glitter makes you crazy, don’t bring it into the house. Buy a vinyl tablecloth to cover the floor (there is one permanently on the floor in the art area in my daughter’s playroom) and keep newspaper handy for covering tables.
Don’t let little kids paint (and maybe even draw with markers or crayons, depending on the child) without supervision until you’re confident they won’t draw or paint on the walls or go wandering around the house with a loaded paintbrush.
Try not to freak out about the mess, but do clean up quickly when they’re done; it’s just easier.
Hit Pinterest and Crafty Blogs, But Don’t Get Overwhelmed
If you feel like you need or want to give your child a specific project to work on (which most of the time you really don’t), Pinterest and crafty blogs can be great inspiration.
Check out my art and kid’s activity boards to get started, or do a specific search such as for a holiday or using a specific craft supply. If you just search kid’s crafts you’ll fall down a rabbit hole you might never come back from.
Get in There with Them
Don’t be afraid to try something alongside your kid. In the beginning you will feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, but your child doesn’t care if what you do looks like high art. They just want to spend time with you.
Being creative together is good for both of you and will help form lasting memories for both of you, too.
Sarah E. White is a crafter, knitter, blogger and mom in Arkansas. She writes about knitting for About.com and CraftGossip.com and writes about crafting with and for kids, creativity for moms and other busy people and creating the life you’ve always wanted on her blog Our Daily Craft. She likes to make things with her five-year-old daughter as often as possible.