According to a district school calendar, summer is half over. And when summer is half over, school supplies start hitting the store shelves. In fact, Target is having a sale this week where you get a $5 gift card when you spend $25. Target is also having a sale where you buy two boxes of diapers and you get a $10 gift card. I am also eyeing a new rug for our entryway like this, this or this. So depending on what rug I go with, I essentially will get a rug for free with my Target gift cards. Does anyone else use this logic when shopping, especially at Target? My husband rolls his eyes when I go in depth into my Target shopping logic.
Anyways, back to the topic. My kiddos are only 3 and 2 years old so back to school doesn’t apply but what does apply is the opportunity to use a sale to stock up on art supplies. One thing I absolutely love to do is craft with the kids. I will be honest in that I don’t do this as much as I’d like. I also hear all the time from moms the phrase “but I’m not crafty” as to why they don’t craft with their kids and my response back to them is “you don’t have to be”. The thing is, toddlers aren’t crafty either. They weren’t born with the skill or desire to make Pinterest worthy art. But they were born with the desire to be messy! That’s a fact. Ask any parent out there. In a child’s eyes, the messier, the better.
I am a firm believer in that everyone has a creative muscle but if you don’t exercise it regularly, it will start to feel weak. It’s like playing piano or riding a bike, if you don’t keep with it, it won’t be easy to pick it back up down the road, however the basic steps will still be engrained in your memory and with a little practice, they will start to shine.
The biggest message I try to tell moms is let your child’s imagination and exploration flourish and have them be the crafty ones. Truth is, I’m not that crafty when it comes to creating works of art with my children but the one thing that I do is give them various supplies and just let them go to town. They don’t always create works of art, especially if you give them both green and red paint (i.e. those colors mix to be brown). So in an effort to encourage moms everywhere to get down and dirty and craft with their toddlers, I’ve outlined a few supplies that I love to use with my own kiddos as well as a few tips for preventing crafting with toddlers failures.
Now for some tips:
- If you decide on a painting activity, limit the colors you give them. For example, unless you want one large piece of brown artwork, do not give them the following combinations of paint colors; orange and blue; green and red; purple and yellow – All of these make brown. Stick with different shades of the same color. Or give them one color, let that piece dry and they can come back with another color.
- Before going into arts and craft time, face the realization that things are about to get messy. If you are still stressed, find some newspaper to lay down or breakdown some diaper boxes to lay down on top of the table. Another option is to take the activity outside and then wait for Mother Nature to take care of it (i.e. wait until it rains).
- Not every child enjoys craft time so if it takes you 20 minutes to set everything up and the child only crafts for 10 seconds, don’t force it. Try again another time.
- This is a moment to really be present with your child. Turn off the TV, turn on the music and get involved. If you claim you aren’t crafty, here’s your moment to be. Just like you don’t have to keep every work of art from your child, you don’t have to keep your own works of art so there’s no harm in getting your hands dirty. Plus your child will love creating things with you, especially if during this time you ask for suggestions from them on your own work of art.
- No $$ in budget for fancy supplies, walk around your house or look in your recycling container for items kids can use. Instead of pom poms, grab some cotton balls and have the kids paint them different colors. Cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels, dry macaroni, q-tips, an old t-shirt, a paper or plastic bag can all be materials used to paint or be painted on.
- Add a few drops of dish soap (i.e. Dawn or the like) to your washable paint. The paint is already labeled “washable” but is super easy to get off of things with a few drops of soap.
- Invest in a bin or a basket that can house all your child’s art supplies. This makes clean up and set up easy. If you are really organized, invest in a basket and then smaller boxes for inside the basket to keep everything sorted and organized. One bin for art supplies also allows you to transport them anywhere in the house if you don’t have a set area for arts and crafts. Here’s our set spot for craft time.
- Last tip, don’t give a toddler all the art supplies at once. That’s stimulation overload. Limit the craft to a few items like paint and googly eyes. Then next time switch it up to a sketch book or markers and pipe cleaners.
If you still are not convinced you can be creative with your toddler or you are one who needs structure for craft time or just a mom looking for ways to switch it up a bit, here are some websites (here, here and here) besides Pinterest that can be helpful when finding toddler craft ideas.
So are you convinced that you can craft with your children? What’s your favorite art supply? Mine is a tie between google eyes and pom poms.