So – how do we get children crafting?
Can you remember the first teddy you made? The first picture that was displayed on the fridge? The first time that a model you made actually worked?
Of course you can!
Crafts that we get involved in when we are little make memories that can last a lifetime. At Whirligig, we love anything that can be made and gets children crafting – and believing that they are able to make things. There are so many starting points and who knows where they will lead…
Here are our top tips to get you, and them, started on a hobby that could grow and grow.
1 Start by touching
Very early on, children can get great pleasure from soft fabrics, papers that crinkle, packets that crackle and bumpy surfaces. Get started with collage activities – it could be sticking wool on paper, combining both cooked and dry pasta to make a pattern, or seeing what happens when you open a box of tissues and screw them up into little balls. These wooden pieces are great for combining colours.
It doesn’t have to look like anything, there is no right or wrong – just play with anything you have at hand.
2 Introduce a pattern
Placing pieces into a sequence and following an order means you are starting to think about what you want to make and how it is going to look when you are finished.
Using large stamps and shapes can help. These beautiful stamping and finger print books from Usborne are full of simple patterns and wonderful colours – something they will love to look back on later.
3 Copy A Picture
Children can find an empty page a daunting prospect – where do you start and just what are you trying to do? Why not draw half an animal and let them finish, start with a squiggle and see where it goes?
Mirror drawing, fuzzy felt, magnetic shapes to play with, all these activities give children a starting point and a defined range of options so that they can be creative within a safe space.
4 Introduce steps along the way
Most craft projects involve a pattern or a series of instructions to follow – start small and give them something that has a sequence. Building a layer, folding a tab or letting the glue dry before you move to the next step all mean that you need to understand the sequence.
Glitter can be great fun (and very messy!) but these lovely pictures are made by just peeling off the stickers and putting each colour on in turn – you will be amazed by how beautiful the end product is.
5 Introduce some tools
Brushes, sponges, hammers and needles – each of them need different handling and children will have to learn just how to hold them to get the best effect. Having a tool to use makes you feel more like a crafter but choosing the right one at the right time is crucial.
Scraper tools are a great example. Essentially, these are big lottery scratch cards with the colours revealed underneath. However, introduce a tool and you can choose exactly where to scratch and what patterns you want to use – which makes the whole project more interesting and the results are really effective.
6 Make the sequence more complicated
We are not talking knitting patterns here – but increasing the number of steps to work through brings a new challenge. You may have to think about the sequence of making something, go back a few steps if you get it wrong and work out why something doesn’t work. Not giving up and realising how you went wrong means understanding the problem fully.
Choose something where the steps are not irreversible – ie. something with no glue involved! These models have lots of pieces and a step to build, but you can also pull them apart and start again with no damage to the pieces – freedom to go wrong!
7 Introduce some risk!
Sometimes things go wrong! Craft projects take too long, you glue the wrong bits together or you just don’t read the instructions. For children to progress, this is an experience they are inevitably going to have – and this isn’t a problem.
Choose something with great instructions and start small and work towards the more complex. If you have to put something in the bin, well never mind! Slow down and enjoy it!
8 Be Inspired – copy a classic
Crafting is not all about following a pattern – sometimes it is making something you have seen elsewhere or which is lurking in your head. This young maker has made a kit and then been inspired to make his own version – taking the skills from one project and applying them elsewhere – what more can you ask for!
Getting children crafting can be such a great way of interacting together and once they have the bug it’s a great way of helping them grow in so many ways.
Our top tips:
- start small – let children experiment and if they are not ready for a stage, go back and forward a bit until you find something that they can achieve with
- be their audience – children love to show off what they can do – be the person who thinks that their crafting efforts are fabulous
- celebrate their success – show all your friends, put it on the fridge, take it into school for show and tell – everyone will be impressed
- become a crafter yourself – if you are learning something together it will have much bigger impact
- seek out an expert – if you happen on something that really inspires them, there will be someone who knows all about your particular craft – a local group or a youtube channel – get them to investigate the next steps
- make it fun – the key to getting a craft project finished is to love the process. Don’t rush it – it will come together eventually
We’d love to hear your views and see your projects – Whirligig loves to see children crafting!