Stickers – a waste of time????

Stickers – they are everywhere and children seem to love them. We are sure that there may be stickers stuck in places that you didn’t intend them to be in your house right now!

This month, we have been looking at what children actually do with stickers, the skills that they can promote and how you can use stickers to take children forward to other activities that will help them move on to other activities.

Placing a sticker is actually a decision making activity. Once you get passed the physical peeling and sticking down, children have to think about where they go, how they fit with the backgrounds, what information the sticker presents and also when to stop.

Stickers are therefore all about the early stages of making marks, creating art works and creating images that convey a meaning – who knew! Weather you like a character sticker, a puffy sticker or just a colour block, stickers are all about the child being in charge of what they are creating. So – loads of potential!

Here is how we see the skills developing with some products to give you some ideas…

Let’s start with a traditional sticker book.

There is a story to tell on every page and an activity. Start with just sticking – it is a fun activity and there are fine motor skills and dexterity involved. However, if you read the page through and ask the child to choose the most appropriate sticker from the sheet to go with the page, children are having to think and choose.

We can reward children for selecting the most appropriate sticker and ask them what else the page needs. As they select colours and shapes that fit with the page, you can help them make their decisions.

Whirligig Toys - Sticker Dolly Puppies1
Whirligig Toys - Dinosaur Stickers1

Using stickers around a particular theme is our next step.

Here, children can identify what the stickers are and select where in the background they need to appear. What happens if the T-Rex sticker is next to the Stegosaurus sticker – will they fight or be friends? Here, children will need to give a rationale behind their decisions, think about the overall picture that they are creating and how they all fit together.

The joy of this is that modern stickers are often reuseable – you can move them around after you have stuck them to change your mind. When they have finished, there should be a story to tell as well as a picture to display.

Working with a simple mosaic structure means that the shape of the sticker becomes important.

These simple designs have numbers to follow that relate to particular colours and shapes and these need to be put on carefully to make the overall pattern look amazing, but there is still choices to make as you don’t have to follow the rules.

We like these as there is some space around each sticker so you don’t have to be totally accurate. Also, they are more textured so you can hold on to them whilst you are placing them. With two in a pack, you can also see how your skills are developing as you get better at placing them.

Whirligig Toys - Animal Mosaics1
Whirligig Toys - Sticker Story Monster Invasion1

Sticker story sets make another progression. Here, there are a series of scenes and stickers that need to match what is happening. Selecting the right stickers in the right order means that you can tell your story.

The story is the key here – you are in charge of where the story is going and what the characters are going to do. You can add drawing, write the words and sentences together to tell the story and revisit the book once that you have made it.

As children become more confident with storytelling, the sticker placement also develops.

Stickers are also a great way of making art work.

These clever kits work with glitter, sand, or both. The pictures are covered with stickers – peel them off to reveal a sticky area underneath. Now pour the materials over the top and they will stick to just the right areas of the pictures, which means that you get exact matching of the areas with no need to worry about smearing glue and getting in a right mess.

Moving children who love stickers onto an activity where they are still playing with stickers but also creating something that looks amazing will take them to a new level.

Glitter Art Insects - Djeco
Whirligig Toys - Scratctart Diamond Stickers1

How about designing your own stickers?

This is a scratch art set – the stickers have coatings a little like a lottery scratch card and come with a stylus. The stickers have cool shapes and have holographic images beneath them. You can therefore draw on the stickers and personalise them, using the shape of the sticker to give you an idea of what to do. Scratch off as much or as little as you like to make your design.

These stickers are perfect for personalising cards or presents, or just for wearing.

Being precise and accurate with stickers means that you can create amazing pictures that require some skill.

These paint by sticker books use a range of polygons to create an overall picture. Each one is numbered and has a specific location. The key here is that they have no space between them, therefore you need to carefully place the sticker and be precise.

With 10 pictures to create in the books, you have time to perfect your approach and you may be surprised by just how accurate children can be. The stickers are again reuseable, so you have a chance to change your mind!

Whirligig Toys - Paint By Sticker Zoo
Whirligig Toys - Paper Love1

Using stickers are part of other art works and paper engineering is our next step.

This book of Paper Love has paper banners, postcards, stickers, paper dolls, and posters and so many different elements to make. Just because they are capable of more complex art, doesn’t mean that they don’t still love stickers!

This leads us on to card making and making 3D art works as presents – all using stickers!

And yes, grown ups like stickers too!

In a similar way to the colouring in craze which was based around mindfulness, painting by stickers can be a very relaxing activity. We made the David Bowie picture in this book recently – it took three evenings to complete with hundreds of individual stickers, and we loved every minute of it.

Take stickers to a new level and see where you can go next…

Whirligig Toys - Paint By Sticker Music Icons 1
Whirligig Toys - Electronic Art Insectarium1

And why not try using stickers to create electonic art?

These copper sticker strips will conduct electricity. Here, you are using stickers to create a circuit that will light up elements of the picture – there are several designs in this series – they allow children to try something new with a familiar material. Once they have got the idea, pick up some more materials and see what you can create.

Stickers with real impact!

So, a little work through the art of stickers, taking them from initial stabbing to careful and controlled art works. Stickers may not be the only thing that children play with, but no reason not to pick up on something that is so popular.

Our top tips:

  • Stickers are something to be done together – ask children questions whilst they are choosing the stickers and selecting where they go
  • Once the decision is made, the sticker should add to the picture to add to the story – ask them what happens next
  • Look for opportunties to add precision – if the stickers are creased or wonky, their pictures will have less impact – they can work on this and improve their fine motor skills through stickers
  • Don’t expect too much too soon – stickers can be flimsy and difficult to hold and the textured stickers are much easier to hold on to
  • Go for something more complex when you are ready – the complicated polygon stickers are really interesting to work with and give a new challenge

So, whilst they may be stuck on your car seat, the wall, under the table and on the cat, stickers do have their value and are the starting point for further art works.

We’d love to hear your successes – send us some pictures and enjoy your stickers!

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