Child-Led Crafting can increase problem solving skills and self-esteem. And it can be great Summertime Learning Fun!
This Day 7 of our 10 Days of Summer Learning Fun Series! I hope you have been enjoying this series!
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What is Child-Led Crafting?
On any given day, if you were to drop by unexpectedly, you would probably find my kitchen floor littered with paper scraps, wooden popsicle sticks, and glue guns. This is not a product of my own craft addiction. No, it’s my all my kids’ fault.
Each of my kids will find some type of craft to do at some point in almost any day. All on their own, with no prompting from me. Child-led crafting is when a child comes up with an idea for a creation and carries it out without much help or direction from an adult.
During the school year, we follow a curriculum that I have planned out with some input from them. But during the summer, I pretty much allow them to decide what to learn and create. So child-led learning and crafting is a good fit for us during the summer.
Belle is my paper crafter. She is really into planner decorating right now, although I can’t really figure out why. She has nothing to plan except the occasional sleepover or church event. Ok, maybe she does need a planner. Anyway, I expect she will use this skill more as school starts back.
Rella is obsessed with doll crafting. Pretty much everyday she makes something new for her doll. She gets on Pinterest and searches for doll projects, gathers the needed materials, and puts it all together with little to no input from me.
Superman loves woodworking (on a 8-yr-old level of course.) He has gone through 2 giant boxes of wooden craft sticks in the past month. He creates airplanes and cars and bow and arrows. Whatever his little mind can come up with, he creates it with wood.
How Child-Led Crafting is Beneficial
There are some days I would prefer to throw the craft sticks and foam sheets in the trash and declare a ban on crafting forever! It can be a messy proposition and I get sick and tired of stepping on wood shavings and reminding kiddos to clean up after themselves.
But I understand that creating things and working out the best way to do something is beneficial to their growing minds. It helps them to learn to solve problems and uses their small motor skills. It is relaxing and enjoyable to craft, and they can have pride in the end result. I can’t tell you how many times my kids have come running with a craft to show me what they have done.
I am a creative person myself and I love a good craft, so sometimes I am guilty of coming up with a great craft that I think they will enjoy, and it completely flops. I will have some great craft planned for a history unit, and they would rather do their own thing. So I have come to realize that letting them lead in the crafting is more beneficial to them, and easier for me. It stretches their imagination and creativity to come up with the craft on their own, and they remember the lesson better too.
Encouraging Child-Led Crafting
So, how do you encourage your kids to craft on their own? Some kids wouldn’t pick up the scissors and glue on their own ever.
Give them a reason
Princess creates doll crafts because we can’t afford some of the great accessories that are sold through American Girl. So she has found ways to make the items herself. Are they as well-made and beautiful as the ones from the catalog? Maybe not, but they are one of a kind and there is great pride in knowing that she made that doll cake or chair or dishwasher all by herself. I think some of the enjoyment of her AG doll is creating new items for it. If she didn’t create items for her doll, I daresay the doll wouldn’t get played with very often.
Give them access to supplies
It’s not much fun to try to do a craft that you don’t have the supplies for. Even if you have a reason to create something, if you can’t find the parts to build it with, you will only end up frustrated.
I would recommend that you have things like paper, glue sticks, glue gun, craft foam, and craft sticks in a bin so that it’s readily available if they need it. We also keep a bin with recyclable items like cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, scrap material, and milk jugs in it. It’s amazing what you can create out of something most people would throw away.
Help them see how fun it is
I enjoy crafting. I was much like Princess as a girl. I created all kinds of great things for my room even as a teenager. My mom would take us to the Wal-Mart crafting class every Wednesday afternoon, and I would come home all excited about the new craft I was going to try. I think I have passed that love of creating on to my kids. But even if you don’t love crafting, you can help your kids to love creating by giving them the opportunity to get messy and feel the joy of creating something awesome!
Give them inspiration
Some kids can create something amazing with no prompting at all. They can think of something they want to make, and go to work making that item and it turns out amazing. Others need some inspiration. You can provide inspiration by having craft books available, or helping them navigate Pinterest, or showing them a YouTube video. The craft can be child-led even if you use books or online sources for inspiration as long as the child is the one deciding what to create. Not all art projects have to be spontaneous. There is great enjoyment and satisfaction in creating even if you followed someone else’s directions.
Don’t expect perfection
I know, I know. Everyone posts these amazing craft projects on social media, and when you try to make it, it turns out awful. There is a whole website dedicated to failed Pinterest projects.
There is a huge temptation as a mom to help our kids to “fix” their crafts to make them better. I mean if you were making that project, it would look alot better, right? But that’s the beauty of child-led projects. They get to figure out what they could have done better. It’s all part of the learning process. So congratulate him the lopsided airplane… the next one will be better.
I vowed to keep this post shorter, and here I am at 1,200 words again. It’s really hard for me to stop when I’m talking about something I love! So I want to hear from you. Do you love crafting? Do your kids create spontaneously? Leave me a comment and let me know! Follow me on Pinterest for some great crafting ideas too!