The desire to create is inherent in all of us and for children, that’s especially true. Children of all ages enjoy the creative process, whether it’s painting with brilliant poster paints, fashioning objects from clay, or stitching together felt pieces. Taking raw materials – from empty egg cartons to dried beans – and reimagining them into a personal vision of beauty is a measurable accomplishment is truly personal. When kids are provided with the proper materials and a little guidance, the possibilities are endless!
In addition to creative engagement, hands-on craft activities teach kids a host of other skills, as well. Can you remember how hard it was the master a pair of scissors? Younger children actually develop fine motor skills through activities like weaving and stringing beads by strengthening hand and finger muscles, thus improving coordination.
Crafts are also crucial in the development of higher thinking skills. According to the recent article, “How to Increase Higher Order Thinking” by Alice Thomas, M.Ed. and Glenda Thorne, Ph.D., “Higher order thinking, or “HOT” for short, takes thinking to higher levels than restating the facts. HOT requires that we do something with the facts. We must understand them, infer from them, connect them to other facts and concepts, categorize them, manipulate them, put them together in new or novel ways, and apply them as we seek new solutions to new problems.”
How exactly do crafts help develop higher thinking skills? Open ended drawing teaches children about special relationships, for example. Mixing colors and layering paint demonstrates cause and effect. Creating collages communicates patterns and rhythm. Each form of craft activity challenges children to evaluate the available materials, assess the possibilities, and reimagine a whole new project. Paper towel tubes become marble runs, socks become puppets, and baby food jars become snow globes!
Crafts are also an important way for children to build self-esteem. For the child who is a Tactile or Kinesthetic Learner, a traditional lecture-based classroom can be a confusing and frustrating place. These children have an innate need to explore the world around them on a physical level and may even have trouble sitting still for long periods of time.
The act of creating engages these students on a tactile level and creates a positive emotional response to learning. The resultant “work of art” is a badge of honor for these students.
Ready to get started?
In addition to traditional snowflake cutouts, shoebox dioramas, and jar lid refrigerator magnets, there are a wealth of ideas for kids’ crafts for every holiday, event, age, and skill level.
One of the best, most comprehensive resources for parents and teachers alike is Pinterest. If you’re not familiar with the site, Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website. Users can “pin” images and manage various themed boards. The plethora of children’s craft ideas is astounding! Use the search feature and keywords to find exactly what you need, plus save images to your boards for the future.
Another wonderful resource is Education.com’s crafts section. The site is broken down into helpful categories like Beads and Jewelry, Paper Crafts, and Fabric Projects. Or, search by grade for ideas.
Or, you can simply gather supplies and see how your child is inspired!
Whatever craft project your child chooses, remember to match skill level with skill requirements for completion to avoid unnecessary frustration. And, with crafts – as in life – beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
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