How can you get your kids busy making
puppets? Or drawings? Or masks? Or jewelry? Or costumes? (Or making
anything for that matter?)
Many parents don't know where to start to
help guide their children into more creative adventures. Here are a few
basic steps that should make your home the creative nucleus it secretly wants to be.
1. Make time.
If we don't make time for our own creativity it is asking a bit to much to expect our children to find the time in their own experience. They live what they learn, so make time to be creative yourself (in the presence of your children) and with your kids, even if it is just a few moments here and there. Draw with them. Make a fairy fort outside. Make paper masks. Sew, knit, paint. Anything. Create a new family ritual. (Steal our idea for a weekend morning Jammie Craft featured here and here.) Carve out the time, even if it is just five minutes, two days a week.
2. Have supplies available.
Supplies that you don't ration. Nothing squelches creativity like a parent hovering and being miserly about their materials. My kids have their own yarn because they were "borrowing" yarn from my project cabinet which was making me freak. And their having to constantly ask for tape made me buy them their own tape dispenser so that mine stayed in the office.
Some of our favorites kids' craft supplies are: wool and cotton yarn,
cotton fabric, wool felt, sequins and glitter (these are kept on a high
shelf and used when I help with setup), glue, needles, thread,
embroidery floss, watercolors, kite paper, regular paper (white and colored), pencils,
crayons, and wooden bits.
3. Organize your supplies
...so that kids can find what they need easily. Self-service is important to encourage kids to follow their creative spark. Think kid's eye level and accessible day-to-day location.
We have a sideboard in our dining room filled with supplies with labeled drawers. (The labels include pictures and words so that pre-readers can still find what they want.) We have a friend with a devoted dresser of supplies. You'll find the right answer for your space. It needn't be fancy - just orderly.
4. Unplug and Acquaint Yourself With Boredom.
(Now we're getting to the sticky ones.) Nothing brings a faster death to creativity than lots of screen time for a kid. The younger your child is the less media they should be exposed to. (A well-accepted standard is no screen time before two, thought many believe it should go much beyond two.)
Without screen time kids will get bored. And they'll whine. And fuss. And be dramatic. It will be uncomfortable.
And then out of pure desperation they'll engage their brains and get un-bored. And that's when the best magic happens. But you have to stick it out and have some great supplies at hand. Trust me. You'll curse my name along the way, but the destination will be so worth it.
Worth saying that the screen-time reduction should go for everyone lest it appear to be a demented parental punishment.
5. Find your inspiration.
Have some simple crafts up your sleeve for when you have creative time with your kids. Maybe they'll be old favorites from your childhood. Tap into your friends. Call your mom. Or come here to see what we're up to. Other great blogs for quick crafts are Crafty Crow and Artful Parent.
6. Plant Seeds.
"When I was a kid I made the coolest puppet out of a toilet paper roll and some construction paper." Plant creative seeds for your kids to nurture. They'll take the lead and come up with some great creative ideas of their own.
7. Get out of the way.
It is wonderful to nudge children in the direction of creative expression, but then get out of the way. Busy yourself with your own parallel project (making your own puppet for example), or quietly slip away and make dinner.
Their finished project does not need to be perfect. This can be hard for us to learn. As parents we tend to offer too many suggestions, too many ideas, too much direction. They know what they are doing. This is their project - not yours. (Let the big pink strawberry star in that spring puppet show.)Enjoy the journey. Let me know what transpires this weekend in your craft zone!