Friday, 2 May 2014

Crafting Alongside Kids

What to do when you REALLY want to get something made, and they do to..

Creating with or for our kids can sometimes be hard, whatever art or craft activity we get out, they are immediately interested in it aswell. And lets be honest here, sometimes that can be just plain annoying!

Perhaps you have a last minute card to make, and you hold a pretty high standard for yourself, visible glue will not be tolerated! What do you do when your pre-schooler begs to 'help' you?

Stamped Aeroplane Garland

When the answer is NO

"Mum, Mum, can I please carve stamps with you?"

The answer was no.

I wasn't going to let my 4 year old carve stamps with sharp carving tools (call me over protective but I value his fingers)

But I did want him to be involved. I was carving stamps to use for his birthday party, we used them in a variety of ways, including in the aeroplane garland above, on wrapping paper and the food boxes.

I wanted them to be made well, but I didn't want my high standards for my own creations to put my son off having a go, so this is what I did.

  1. Acknowledge him. - "I see you are really interested in carving stamps with me, it looks like a lot of fun."
  2. Explain WHY he couldn't - "These carving tools are very sharp, and I would never want you to be hurt, so I won't let you use them." (Notice I emitted "because I don't want you ruining my stamps")
  3. Give him options - "If you want you can wait until I have finished carving them and help me with the stamping, or I can give you some scissors and foam and you can make your own stamps now."
  4. Encourage his efforts - "I can see you are concentrating really hard on your stamps, you have cut up a lot of foam very carefully with your scissors" - Rather than praising his efforts I prefer to 'feedback' to him what he is doing, and encourage the behaviours and skills rather than the art itself. (concentration, persistence, fine motor-skills, patience, care)
Concentrating very hard on his careful cutting and sticking

The result?

About 2 hours of very enjoyable side by side crafting and several sets of very nice stamps!

Once I had finished my stamps, he stamped 9 sheets of large newsprint that we made into wrapping paper for his pass the parcel game. He used 3 shapes, a cloud, an orange Dusty Crophopper and a black Echo & Bravo stamp (characters from the Planes movie - his chosen party theme).

My favourite part was that he told stories the entire way, this is Dusty racing in front, this is Dusty getting lost in the storm, this is Echo and Bravo and their friends rescuing Dusty stamp, stamp, stamp and so on. It was a very entertaining narrative and all the while we were producing very personalised and useful wrapping paper.

I think it can be hard, but very fulfilling to create a space where we give our children quality tools and supplies, some safety and messiness boundaries and then allow them to create without passing judgement on their artwork or correcting them. (the words good, nice and well-done are banned in our household) You will surprised at what they can do!

Painting Planes at the party

Keeping Them Quiet (and focused!)

You could have heard a pin drop when the 6 four years olds sat down to paint their planes at his party, it was amazing, and BONUS there was barely any mess. I think by giving them good quality art paints, fine brushes and interesting and challenging items to work with they really stretched their skills, imaginations and concentrated really hard.

They same could have been said of one of The Make Cafe's kid's fabric printing workshops today. Imagine a room full of 5-12 years old quietly concentrating on their masterpieces. The only thing we could hear was the parents quiet whispers of awe in the background!

Kid's Fabric Printing
Equipped with the tools, safety, and product boundaries and the right environment, our children will astonish us with their creativity, storytelling and artful insights. We just have to give them the chance!

If you are keen to learn more about stamp carving yourself we are actually running a new stamp carving workshop as part of a larger fabric embellishment block course. Well worth checking out!

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