It is probably somewhat unsurprising to anyone, that my kids love craft & creating almost as much as I do. Multiple times a day, I get asked if they can do craft. We build handwork into our homeschool days. There are always multiple projects on the go at once, with their desks and the school table and the lounge room and their bedrooms littered with pages of stories or drawings blutacked on the walls or knitting needles that aren’t mine (and also sometimes are) jamming in to my leg when I flop onto the lounge at night time, once my day is finally done. We’ve had child-instigated puppet shows, and art gallery openings, and film projects. My craft room currently looks like a bomb went off in it, and for once, it’s not my fault. Mostly.
I was inspired to share a bit about crafty kids after a couple of recent things. The first was when Bear was sick for a few days, and resting on the lounge, but also starting to get well, and wanting something to keep him occupied. He disappeared briefly and then later on when I checked in on him again, he was knitting away, and Beetle was cruising around with a new blankie for his duckie. Off his own initiative, my beautiful Bear had decided to knit everyone a new blanket for their teddies. Then my mum arrived with a bag of yarn that she no longer needed, and thought I may use…and promptly had it snaffled by the kids. Bear wanted a ball for knitting. Boy2 wanted to crochet a ripple blanket. So much for that yarn being “for me”.
It doesn’t just happen though, that a 12 year old boy woke up one day with a burning desire to start knitting. It starts all the way back in his toddler years, when we would colour and paint and bake and craft ourselves silly, all day long, in between playing trains, of course. It starts with independant play time accompanied by mummy nearby working away on her own project. It starts with tucking a small boy under a blanket made with love, and with home made clothes, and making gifts.
From almost as soon as they were born, our babes have been surrounded by crafting and making and creativity. It really is no surprise that they’ve absorbed that into their own lives as creating being a thing that is as natural as eating and sleeping and reading.
Our house is scattered with craft projects. There’s a bag at the end of the lounge with my current crochet. There’s a quilt over the back of the same lounge being handquilted. The coffee table basket holds our books and also my cross-stitch project. There’s a basket on the bookshelf with the kids yarn and current knitting projects. Yet more odds and ends are stored in the tv cabinet. They have their desks in their rooms with basic writing and drawing supplies, and a fully stocked (truth be told, overstocked) IKEA trolley in my craftroom with a stack of general craft supplies, both basic and obscure. On top of this, I also will share my own supplies as needed & requested, for various projects.
I think this constant exposure to ongoing projects and also easy access to supplies is one of the key factors in supporting their creativity. If they want to make something – they can. It doesn’t require extensive set-up or lots of planning, it can just be done. And it’s normal for a project to take time, and require a few different sessions to complete, rather than just the immediate gratification of an instant finish.
We also build in lots of craft time into our school day. Handwork is a daily agenda item. Main lesson is often very creative too, with art journaling to record what they;ve learnt, or a dramatisation of a reading as a comprehension exercise. Then afterschool there is plenty of free time to balance active outside play, personal creative projects, reading, games, and the like. The opportunity is always there, for when the mood strikes. And strike it often does. In the last week alone, we have had multiple yarn projects, dolls blanket sewing for the younger three, Boy2 planning a wardrobe overhaul for Cookie Monster, painting, cutting, card making, letter writing & tapestry.
Building on my own inability to sit with my hands still, I also try to encourage a habit of multi-tasking when watching tv. We don’t have much screen time, mainly just our family movie night on Friday nights, but when, for instance, someone is unwell and watching netflix on the lounge, I will let the non-sick kids sit for a bit and watch an episode of Mr Peabody and Sherman, on the proviso they have something in their hands. They see me doing the same thing, if I am watching tv, I am crafting at the same time. It’s just what we do. Creating and keeping our hands busy is such an integral part of our daily happenings, that when we travel, particularly on a road trip, one of the first things we pack are the kids travellers notebooks (all custom made by Car) and pencil case with essential journalling supplies to allow them to draw and write and paint along the way. It’s always fun coming home to notebooks full of random little sketches or a story they jotted down about a random emu running along the side of the road.
Some of my favourite memories of hanging out with the smalls come from our times of chilling out together and crafting, and I’m so thankful that I’ve managed to pass on my love of making pretty things to them. I’m sure in years to come, they, like many of us, will go through seasons of life where making is very much not a thing for them, but I hope that eventually they will circle back and be able to pass on the skills they learn now, to their own families. In forty years or so when they are allowed to leave home. (Yes I am completely ignoring that Bear is 2/3rds of the way to adulthood, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt my friends!).
Below is a bit of a guide to things that I would include in a kids art collection for those folks just getting started, or looking for some ideas to freshen up or try new crafts with their kids. Our craft space is very kid-friendly, with a washable floor, so I don’t need to be too precious. Likewise, when we are at home, they are in playclothes so I don’t get totally hung up on ensuring they wear smocks.
OUR MUST HAVE SUPPLIES:
A4 art diary, to keep paintings/drawings collated and not left on random scraps of paper floating around…or not as much anyway!
Lined writing book
Butchers paper – great for crafting and also using as mess mats
Range of paintbrushes
Jar for paint water
One nice set of coloured pencils (I love Lyra pencils) – pencils seem to accumulate around here, and we end up with 30 yellows and nothing else!
Acrylic paint – we prefer tube paints so we can squeeze out a bit and a whole tub doesn’t get contaminated by an unwashed brush.
Watercolour paint palette (Micador is awesome colour + very reasonably priced)
Collage supplies – old magazines/catalogues, patterned paper, tissue paper
crayons – we use Stockmar, in a mix of stick and block
glitter (if you dare!)
Fabric, in lengths and scraps
EXTRAS WE LOVE:
Basic sewing supplies
Stamps + ink (I’ve found spending a little more yields much better results & less frustrated kids)
Air dry clay
Mixed paper stocks – watercolour, canvas, cardstock
Carving rubber/lino + carving tools
FROM AROUND THE HOME:
Empty boxes from the recycling bin
Toilet paper rolls
Cotton tips – a fun painting tool!