A well-chosen craft project is the antidote to the dreaded scourge of summer vacation and rainy weekend days–boredom. Kids love to make things and to show off the things that they make with their own two hands. Whether you need to occupy one kid on a rainy Saturday, or entertain a whole crew for summer camp, youth group meetings or a birthday party, your best tools are a well-stocked craft supply cabinet and a working knowledge of kids’ crafts.
Craft projects help kids develop skills that go far beyond the obvious. In fact, doing crafts teaches kids self-sufficiency, patience, problem-solving and teamwork, according to “The Hipster Librarian’s Guide to Teen Craft Projects,” written by Tina Coleman and Peggie Llanes. Whether your child weaves a basket out of construction paper, crafts a jewelry box from craft sticks or creates a googly-eyed paperweight from a rock, she is learning to follow instructions and sequence tasks. When your child completes a craft, she is learning how a project moves from planning to completion. Crafting also sparks creativity in children, teaches them that there is more than one way to accomplish a task, and fosters the satisfaction of making something from scratch instead of buying it from a store.
Crafts are appropriate for children of nearly any age, and many types of crafts can grow with your child. Hand a box of craft sticks to a 6-year-old, for instance, and he may create a simple trinket box. In the hands of a patient 12-year-old, that same box of craft sticks may become a castle, complete with a working drawbridge. Some crafts can lay the foundation for a lifetime of enjoyment. Knitting, crocheting, pottery, weaving and woodworking can all begin with simple craft projects and grow into lifelong leisure pursuits or, for those who really enjoy them, career paths.
Make crafting a family affair by including your kids in your own craft pursuits. Instead of giving your kids a purchased craft kit, let them work alongside you when you craft. Most children can use real tools safely with adult supervision, so let your child use a real hammer and nails to build a toy boat, or show him how to safely use a sewing machine or circular saw.
Encourage kids to explore different types of crafts by keeping a ready supply of raw materials on hand. Fill a cabinet with baskets of fabric and wood scraps, art supplies, clay and yarn. Provide ample space for them to work on their craft projects, including a place where they can keep safely put projects in progress between steps–a clothesline to hang paintings, for instance, or a shelf where they can let glue dry overnight.
Dig into your childhood summer camp memories to come up with timeless craft projects that never lose their appeal to kids. You can purchase hanks of plastic lacing, sometimes called gimp or lanyard, in many colors. Kids will spend hours learning how to make square, round, butterfly and diagonal patterns for bracelets and key rings. Other familiar camp crafts include wooden craft stick trinket boxes, God’s eyes, woven potholders and spool knitting.
- painting image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com