Crafts For Kids

Crafting with kids can be fun for them and for you. A little preplaning will ensure the projects are a sucessful and a non-frustrating experience.

Crafting with kids is a great way to spend time together and be creative in the process. As a mother for eleven years and a Girl Scout leader for six, I want to share some lessons I have learned about doing crafts with kids.

1) A well-stocked box of craft supplies is essential tool to have if you want to have a positive and successful creative experience. The supplies do not have to be expensive or even store bought. One of most frustrating experiences for both you and your child is to have the inspiration to do a craft and then find out you do not have basic essentials such as glue. Later I will discuss what sorts of materials can be kept in your craft box.

2) The project should be doable in a short amount of time. Most kids do not have the patience or attention span to work on a project that will take several weeks. It is satisfying to have finished project within an hour or so. Exceptions to this may be papier-mâché projects that must be allowed to dry for several days between tasks.

3) Projects that use recyclable material are a great tool for teaching children about reducing the waste stream that plagues our society. There are so many items that makes their into your garbage or recycling bin that can be reused in a craft project""think creatively. These items have the additional appeal of being free, and what can be better than that?

4) Listen to your kids. They may have great ideas for variations on the project that you have planned. There is no "right way" to do crafts and they may be able to come up with some innovative and unusual ideas. It will help build self-esteem if they feel as if their ideas are worthwhile ones that you care about.

5) Gather your materials and clear a space. It is important to make sure you have everything you need before you begin. It is frustrating to start a project and then realize you don't have the necessary materials. Also frustrating is feeling like you don't have enough space to spread out or that the space you do have can't get dirty. Craft projects can get messy so be sure to clear your bills off of the dining room table and put down some old newspapers. If you are concerned about keeping your kids clothes relatively clean, have them don a smock, an old oxford shirt or large T-shirt to protect their duds.

6) Sometimes it is just the process, not the product that counts. Spending uninterrupted quality time with your kids is really what they crave. The kids are sure to love whatever they made, even if it doesn't come out "perfect". In addition to being able to spend time with you, they will gain skills in manual dexterity and problem solving and develop their creativity

Now let's look at what you might put into your craft box.

A craft box can be as simple any spare box you have around the house. Large plastic storage containers are great but so is the lowly cardboard box. If you start to find that your craft box is too disorganized and you can't find anything, you may want to subdivide. Many people like to organize their crafts into smaller shoe box sized storage containers that can be labeled with tbe contents of each for easy accessibly of items. If you really want to go all out, tape pictures of the items on the outside of the boxes to get the kids involved in keeping things organized. Coffee cans or plastic utensil trays are wonderful for storing markers and paintbrushes. The small compartments of fishing tackle or tool boxes are good for storing small items such as buttons, sequins, beads, and the like. Large manila envelopes are good for storing flat paper items such as doilies, sheets of stickers and pages from magazines you have cut out. Baby wipe containers are useful for storing crayons or other small items such as pompoms and feathers. The lids snap shut, ensuring the items won't spill out. One final idea for keeping things organized is to keep your craft supplies separated by holiday. Keep paper hearts and doilies in one envelope and Halloween theme decorations in another. Label them and you will always be able to find what you need, year after year.

Make sure all items are non-toxic. Read the labels on the items you buy and make sure they are safe for kids. On a related note, also make sure the supplies you are using are age-appropriate. Very young children tend to put everything in their mouths. Be sure to keep small items such as buttons and beads away from them.

Items for a well stocked craft box

1. Markers. Try not to scrimp here. Brand-name markers seem to last longer and have more intense colors than the bargain bin ones. One set of wide and a set of fine point should be all you need. Remind your kids to replace the caps as soon as they are done using one to avoid lost caps and dried out markers.

2. Paint. You can get tempera paint (also known as poster paint) in either a liquid or powder form. The liquid form is quick and easy to use but can be expensive. In the less expensive powdered form, tempera paint can be mixed with water in small amounts, limiting waste. This also allows you to control the viscosity. If you add just a small squirt of liquid dish detergent to tempera paint, it is much more likely to wash out of clothes. In addition to tempera you might also want to have a set of watercolors.

3. Brushes. Usually you can buy a set of ten or twelve brushes in a variety of widths for not very much money. A small set for the water colors paints is useful too. If you plan to use brushes to apply glue to your projects, you might want to have a second set for this purpose. In any case, rinsing your brushes well after use will prolong their life.

4. Things that stick things to other things. This includes, glue and tape in their various forms. White school glue is terrific. It dries clear and quickly and washes out from clothes and hands easily. Glue sticks are especially useful with young children. They can control the application with the greatest of ease. Hot glue guns are great for some projects with but it is best if an adult uses it. The glue can get hot enough to cause serious burns if it gets on your skin. Scotch tape is a good to stock up on, as is various colors of electrical tape. To really outfit your tape supply throw in a roll of duct tape for durability and some masking tape should you want some thing that can be removed at a later date without ruining your project.

5. Scissors. Get safety scissors if you have young children, left handed scissors if you have left handed children and some specialty scissors if you really want to get wild. Scissors now come with a variety of cutting edges, which can add flair to any craft project. A utility scissors will cut more resistant materials such as wire or plastic milk jugs with ease.

6. The Fun Stuff. Here are some ideas for items you can keep on hand jogging the creative minds of even the most artistically blocked child. Googly eyes, glitter glue, string, felt, fun foam, stickers, crayons, pliable wire, pipe cleaners, wooden spools, stampers, buttons, sequins, ribbon and colored tissue paper are just a few items you may want to have on hand.

Finally a word on recyclable materials. Just about anything goes. Foam trays from fruits and vegetables, plastic strawberry baskets, margarine containers, shoe, cereal and cracker boxes, plastic milk jugs (be sure to rinse well first), egg cartons, pie tins, tin cans, toilet paper and paper towel tubes and old magazines will get you started on having a "junk" section of your craft supply box. While you are at it, why not add a box for materials found in nature if you have the access. Pine cones, acorns, feathers, leaves, small stones, twigs"¦you are only limited by your own imagination

Now, lets get started!!

Quick and Satisfying Crafts with Paint

1) Put several different colors of paint in each of the compartments of an egg carton. Place a sheet of paper in a baking dish. Put a marble in one of the compartments and roll it around to cover the marble with paint. Using a spoon, place the marble on the paper and roll it around. Take another marble and place it in a different color paint and do the same. Lift paper from baking dish and allow to dry.

2) In a clean jar put 2 tablespoons of paint, one tablespoon of dishsoap and a cup of water. Shake well. Pour some of the mixture into an aluminum pie pan. Have your child BLOW (not suck in!) bubbles into this mixture. Once a pile of bubbles has formed, have them place a sheet of paper gentle on top of the bubbles. As they pop, beautiful designs will form.

Two ideas for recycleables

1) Coffee Can Steppers: Take two same sized coffee cans with lids. With a "church key": can opener punch two holes on opposite sides of the can near the top. Make sure the sharp points you produce are on the inside the can. Now, measure a length of rope or string twine about three times the length from your child's knee to the floor Thread this rope through each can and tie ends together. Pull the rope so that the knot is on the inside of the can. Your child can decorate the cans with contact paper and stickers or paint.

2) Wind Chimes: Take a wire coat hanger and any metal objects you think might sound interesting when clanging around in the wind. Some ideas are: old soda cans, compact discs, old silverware, cookie cutters, washers, nuts and bolts. Tie these to the coat hanger trying to keep the heavier items towards the center to help with balance. Arrange and rearrange the items until it hangs and makes noise to your liking.

Some Holiday Ideas:

1) Valentines Day Candy Baskets: Cut out two large (about 7 inches across) hearts from pink, red or white oak tag. Put hearts together and with a hole punch punch holes around the circumference of the hearts approximately every quarter of an inch. With a contrasting color of ribbon "sew" the hearts together but leave space at the top of the heart to create an opening. Be sure to tie one end of the ribbon in a knot so that it does not pull through. When you have reached the end, tie off that end. Punch two more holes on he top heart near to where the lobes come together to form a point. Tie another piece of ribbon here into a loop for hanging. Decorate the heart however you wish and hang on your favorite valentine's doorknob.

2) Noise makers for Fourth of July, New Years Eve, Purim etc.: Fill a plastic cup with beads dried beans or buttons. Take a second cup and tape it's rim to the first cup with colorful electrical tape. Decorate with stickers or paint and shake away.

Crafts from Nature:

1) Take a large gourd with a smooth surface. If it is not already dried (the seeds will rattle when you shake it) you must let it sit for a while until it is. Using a black crayon and a little elbow grease cover the entire surface of the gourd. Take a tissue and polish the gourd until it shines. With a safety scissors or other blunt object, scrape interesting designs into the crayon so that the color of the gourd shows through. If you make an error, it can be covered up with more black crayon.

2) Nature's Critters: Just about any natural object you find can be turned into a "Critter" Put some googly eyes on a pinecone, add some felt ears and a yarn tail and you have a mouse. Smooth rocks can be painted to be just about any animal you desire. Try making a ladybug or a bumblebee to start.Maybe a colorful array of beetles can brighten up your child's dresser.

Crafting with kids can be fun. Kids have all sorts of great ideas too so be sure to listen to them and enjoy!

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