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 re-imagining them into a personal vision of beauty is a measurable, personal accomplishment. When kids are provided with the proper materials and a little guidance, the possibilities are endless!
How children learn through crafts
Not only are crafts fun, children learn so much through the process. “Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past,” says Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University. “Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.”
Why crafts help develop fine motor skills in children
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.
“The development of fine motor skills helps children function in their daily lives. From buttoning a shirt to writing note, people use these skills at home, school and work. Children need opportunities to practice these, just as they would their spelling words or multiplication tables. Arts and crafts are fun and easy way to practice fine motor skills,” explains Margo Dill of Bright Hub Education.
How crafts develop higher thinking skills and problem solving abilities
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 build self-esteem in kids
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.
MomsOnEdge.com lists these Top 10 ways that crafts build self-esteem in kids of all ages:
“1. Arts and crafts invites the child to experiment with supplies, techniques, and directions that are often foreign and intimidating. Tackling and becoming adept at creative new tasks brings satisfaction and gratification to children of all ages.
2. Arts and crafts encourages children to push themselves to plan and finish an entire project. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they are responsible for completing an entire task from A to Z.
3. Arts and crafts classes produce a fertile environment for meeting and interacting with new people. It can be difficult for some children to venture beyond their comfort zones and intermingle with children they don’t know. It is very flattering and a boost to self esteem for children to hit it off and work with new friends.
4. Arts and crafts classes force children to take risk and put themselves and their work “out there”. It is a gamble to create something and show people because there is the possibility of receiving criticism. Children, especially teens are averse to this type of hazard. A supportive arts and crafts trainer creates an environment where children feel comfortable exposing their work. Children who learn how to tackle risk are better suited and more comfortable tackling appropriate risk as adults.
5. Arts and crafts teach open mindedness. Creative questions do not have finite answers like math or physics problems. When doing arts and crafts children learn how to explore the many different possible solutions to the problems that they face. Being imaginative and open minded allows for them to invent solutions that are exciting and inspired. Children gain the confidence to tackle many problems in creative and ingenious ways.
6. Arts and crafts aid in dispelling a child’s “limiting beliefs.” It is very common for children to create ideas about their own abilities that restrict their activities. Thoughts like, “I am not smart enough to do this,” are destructive and chip away at their self esteem. Craft projects teach children how to change damaging preconceived notions. Children learn how much they truly are capable of and build on each experience gaining confidence with each project.
7. Arts and crafts projects illustrate to children that they can achieve success. It is good for children to discover that they can be victorious. Success feels great and inspires children to reach for more and attempt harder and harder tasks.
8. Arts and crafts allows an opportunity for children to let loose and have fun. In a relaxed and non-competitive atmosphere children can explore their carefree and imaginative side. Seeing that they are multidimensional beings contributes to their overall sense of well being and a healthy sense of self.
9. Arts and crafts classes permit children to see themselves in a fresh, new light. It is important that kids have the opportunity to survey many different pursuits. Allowing kids to choose the activities that excite and delight them gives them the confidence to later pursue their own interests and eventually choose meaningful careers and pastimes.
10. Arts and crafts promote a passion for learning! Kids who have expanded their confidence through creativity and developing a healthy self esteem are curious about learning new things. The self assurance that they build doing arts and crafts overflows into all of their endeavors making for a rich and highly satisfying childhood.”
Resources for children’s crafts
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!
About Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc.
Back to Basics Learning Dynamics is the undisputed leader in 1-on-1 tutoring in Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania for over 60 subjects including art and photography. Since 1985, our commitment to a 1-on-1 teaching method has differentiated us from other educational service providers.
We serve the diverse needs of a range of students – from those who simply need some academic support, to those who are learning disabled, hearing or visually impaired, ADHD, gifted, or on the Autism Spectrum including High Functioning Autistic and Aspergers.
And, we offer a menu of services that includes the widest array of educational options in the tri-state area: 1-on-1 tutoring in over 60 subjects, translating and interpreting in 21 languages, speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavior specialists, reading specialists, ELL teachers, homebound services, and psycho-educational testing. In addition, Back to Basics offers exceptional, 1-on-1 test prep for tests including the SAT, PSAT, SAT II, ACT, GRE, PRAXIS, GED, and HSEE. Back to Basics also offers summer school, original credit, and credit recovery, plus unique enrichment options and professional development.
And, Back to Basics operates a unique Department of Education-approved 1-on-1 K-12 Private School in Wilmington, Delaware.
Photo by Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.