Spring break is upon us and kids are suddenly everywhere! Apart from taking knitting to the playground like an old grandma, I’d like to share some ideas for ‘creating’ with, or alongside your children, keeping them busy and you free to be crafty as well!
Being born to a scrapbooker my daughter apparently learned fast. When she was just 2 years old I went to pick her up from playgroup – the other kids had ink pads upside down and all over the place while my precious little gem was sitting busily in the corner stamping away with skill and precision amongst the madness!
Kids love to make stuff, and their needs are quite simple. My daughter is now 4 and with a little baby sister on the way is completely obsessed with all things ‘baby’. To keep her busy a couple of days ago – I set her up on the carpet with some pregnancy magazines, scissors, a gluestick and paper – she happily snipped out baby pictures and glued them onto her ‘collage’ for over an hour!
Whenever I scrapbook – Ivy likes to join me. Sometimes we sit together at my work table, other times she will create on the floor or at her mini table and chairs.
Keeping a stash of goodies for art creations on hand always makes for fast and easy entertainment. I keep a large rectangular basket under her table and chairs full of ‘her stuff’ (translated = the ugly stuff I no longer want to use!) – cardstock, stickers, photos, diecuts, and a box full of ribbon scraps, silk flowers, buttons etc. On top of her table is a metal canister with her scissors, pens and gluesticks – everything handy for when she wants to start creating, which she does spontaneously almost every day.
Kids love pictures of themselves, their family and friends. I always give Ivy the proof sheet of tiny photos when I get pictures printed, and when I go to Staples I try and remember to grab a bunch of pictures to get color copies made – you can fit quite a few photos on the copy machine for 39c, and even reduce the size of the pictures to get more bang for your buck!
Sometimes I will get her to tell me her story so I can journal it onto a tag or cardstock for her to adhere to her scrapbook page – other times she likes to do her own writing! Don’t forget to date the ‘piece’ somewhere – I normally do it on the back – she will love looking back at her 4 year old artwork when she is older and comparing it to her more recent creations!
To house her finished works I bought a large 12×12 size American Crafts binder and she is VERY proud of her ‘own scrapbook album’, showing it to unsuspecting guests and visitors at any given opportunity! The album also serves as great entertainment for her, at times she will pull it off the shelf and look through the pages admiring her art and reminiscing over the pictures.
Mini books are also a hot favorite in her 4 year old mind (wonder where that came from?!)…so instead of throwing away my offcuts or leftover cardstock, I gather a stack and bind them together with bookrings, zip ties or ribbons and make a little book for her…
Minibook making has been a popular activity when a friend comes for a playdate – each child gets a little book to fill with drawings, stickers, paint, collage etc – works like a charm every time!
Recently I needed to make a project – a canvas collage as a gift for a friend, so I bought a couple of mini canvases for Ivy to play with alongside me…you can pick these up at an art store for less than $2 each and make great little gifts for family members or to decorate your childs room. She had paints, fabric, pictures, buttons and jewels and went to town working on her two masterpieces…it was so sweet to work together side by side and see the way she created so freely and uninhibited – I always feel inspired watching kids create – nothing holds them back!
A great idea for a child’s gift is an art box – a friend of mine made one for Ivy out of an old wooden cigar box (can be found at cigar stores a bargain). Inside the box she put art crayons, a mini sketch book, envelopes and a mini set of stamps. We take this with us to church every week and it keeps her happy and occupied without fail!
Growing up in a world that is full of email and cell phones I am trying my best to instill a love for handmade cards and handwritten notes to my daughter! As we live on the other side of the world to our family, Ivy and I will often have a little letter/postcard writing session – she makes cards, notes and pictures and loves to use her own envelopes from the art box to send them in…we follow through with a walk to the mailbox and I think she appreciates and understands how the whole process works!
Basically – nothing in our house is sacred from being ‘artified’ by our favorite in-house artist. I found a secret stash of toilet paper rolls in her bedroom that had been decorated like so –
(they make great telescopes, telephones and vases for flowers!)
Even a wall in her bedroom has become a colorful collage of taped photos – she started with a few and I decided to let her carry on…sometimes I find leaves and small toys taped up there as well which is always a fun surprise!
All kids love to create and feel proud of their precious homemade items! I have found that having the right set up for her crafting belongings makes my life a lot easier (I don’t have to do the “its too hard/I don’t have time” nag when she asks to make something)…and while we are still working on the whole putting-everything-away-by-ourselves thing afterwards, its going pretty well!
For peace of mind when it comes to my dining table I bought a cheap plastic shower curtain to use as protection, and storage is cheap and easy with baskets and folders housing crafty stuff underneath her little table.
I remember when I was a kid we had a ‘useful box’ – inspired by a favorite Australian kid’s tv show, and my mother would fill it with things such as toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, magazines, ribbon and fabric scraps, yarn, dried pasta etc so that we were free to make things whenever we wanted – it was the best fun in the world!
Whatever space or budget you have this spring break – you can easily set your kids up with an art kit of their own, sit back, and let the creating happen! Embrace the mess, get messy with them, and be prepared for your fridge and mantelpiece to become permanent art galleries!