Getting Creative with Crafts
As we venture further into the new year, it is well and truly becoming card-making season. With Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter all on the horizon, there are many opportunities for festive creativity coming up. Junior spoke to Charlotte Baldwin of IQ Cards about the benefits of arts and crafts for children, and how encouraging your children’s creativity can help them to get more out of their schooling.
Why are arts and crafts so beneficial to children, and can they really improve children’s school experience?
Absolutely it can, yes. We know that young children are developing at a very fast rate, and all of the tiny things we as adults take for granted have to be learned. Firstly, they have a lot of motor skills and coordination to develop in these early years, skills they will test and use and develop a lot at school. An early love of crafting will help children fine tune their motor skills, enabling them to do things like dressing themselves, develop their handwriting and use hand tools like scissors.
On top of the neurological development that crafting encourages, it expands their creativity, gets them thinking about their own ideas and designs, and builds confidence in their own abilities.
Why is it that children find arts and crafts so inherently fun? We all know how naturally creative children can be with the most minimal of materials - cardboard boxes, for example.
There is just so much potential. Children are very inquisitive creatures and like to make things their own, so being given the freedom to take a pick of materials and just do what comes to mind both allows them to explore and feel a sense of independence. And of course, having a finished product to be able to take pride in and show off to friends and family is very rewarding.
Do you believe that arts and crafts contribute to STEM subjects? (Science, technology, engineering and maths)?
Definitely. Some contributions are more direct than others - for example, some fields of engineering very much rely on design skills, as do technologies. In the meantime, arts and crafts can be used as an engaging way to teach STEM subjects, even in ways as simple as making colourful posters about all the latest subjects studied. Incorporating practical arts and crafts skills into the teaching of STEM subjects, or any subject really, can help children to take an interest and provide more stimulating ways of connecting with the material.
Is it most constructive to lead creative play with children, or to allow them to explore and do their own thing?
Finding a happy medium is the best approach. Of course, we love playing with our children and spending time with them, but we can’t always be there to provide entertainment and walk them through things step by step. So encouraging children to make their own fun and come up with original ideas is wise. Once this frame of mind has been established they will become far more able to entertain themselves and create things for themselves.
What would you recommend as the ideal age to start practicing arts and crafts with children?
It is never too early to start crafting! Very young children can have fun sat on a big sheet of paper with some fingerpaints, and work upwards from there. There are plenty of really simple ideas that young children can have fun with that require little technique, like stickering or potato printing. There is no reason to put off getting your children into crafting from a young age, so just go for it.
There are a multitude of children’s crafting books out there, with new ones arriving all the time. Is there any need for these, or should children be allowed to think up their own designs and ideas?
The books are definitely aimed more at the parents than the children - I don’t think children have any issue with dreaming up fantastical designs and ideas. They are more for parents dreading the summer holidays and need some help filling the time. But, as we mentioned, part of the benefit of crafting with your children is that it gets them thinking outside of the box and gets creative juices flowing. So while you may find some fun ideas in craft books, they are by no means a necessity.
Would you recommend classes for those hoping to encourage creativity in their children?
You don't need to go to classes, but some children (and parents!) love the feeling of learning with others. There are all sorts of groups around that you can try. A lot of villages and local parishes have regular craft morning for parents and children, and craft shops often run their own in-store workshops. Hobbycraft hold workshops and drop-in sessions for youngsters every week, so check what’s on the calendar at your local branch.
Junior spoke to Charlotte Baldwin from IQ Cards, a fundraising company that provide schools and establishments with the necessary tools to fundraise via selling high-quality and unique gifts designed by pupils.
Junior's 5 Easiest Ever Craft Activities
An all-time classic and ideal for all ages. Whether it's for an occasion, to say "Thank you", or just for fun, once they're lost in the paper box, they'll be there for hours. Glitter optional.
Another winner with all ages and completely mess-free. Just design your plane, colour it in (if you wish), then fold up your paper and throw. Here is a great resource for children to use at paperaeroplanes.com
Flying Lego Figures
Super-easy and surprisingly good fun. Get a napkin, grab a Lego figure (the new Batman would be ideal!) and some string. Make holes in the napkin and tie the Lego person underneath (about 30cm away). Then throw them over the nearest high spot while singing the Batman tune. More details on making a parachute here.
Origami Paper Fortune Telling Finger Game
As you can tell, we don't know what it was called, either, but they're always fun to make with children. Just vary the challenges/forfeits inside appropriately for hours of fun. How many hop-on-one-leg-while-singing-The-Hokey-Dokey forfeits can you handle? If you've forgotten, here's an easy origami fortune teller tutorial.
Cotton Wool Snow Scene
This never gets tiresome. Use cotton wool balls, cotton wool pads, or any other white fluffy material (watch out for sibling toy attacks!) and make fluffy snow scenes. Or, if you're not feeling that seasonal - go for sheep scenes with stick legs and little dots for eyes. Use them along side those home-made cards for cute gifts.