The mere mention of paint, glue and the associated clean-up will send a shudder through a lot of parents, but I love helping my children do art and craft. Every parent has their strengths and weaknesses. My weakness is imaginative play. I love to use different voices when reading books but open-ended imaginative play just makes my heart sink. Voicing dolls, pretending to be different people… It’s not my greatest gift. But paint? Bring it on.
I still love watching Play School with my children. I know a lot of parents used Play School as their 30 minutes to rush around and do chores but my tradition was to sit down and enjoy Play School together. Even 40+ years after I first saw Play School as a child, it still has that basic, low tech structure that is wonderful to show children what they can do with a few everyday items and basic craft supplies. My mum had a Useful Box for us and I followed by having one at home when my eldest was little. I now have less of a Useful Box but I do keep basics like googly eyes, ice block sticks, gems, cotton wool, glitter, coloured paper, pipe cleaners, and tissue paper. We also have big bottles of glue, paints and coloured paper.
One of the things I love about watching my three girls doing art and craft is the different results you get from the different ages. And I’ve realised through my 11 year parenting career that you really don’t need a project, just a bunch of supplies and your children’s imaginations.
Our favourite activity is to strip the little ones down to their nappies or underpants and just paint. Miss Three loves to make squish designs and butterflies by blobbing different paint onto the paper and folding the paper over. After she’s made about ten squish pictures she will then start to do some hand print painting finishing off with a total body paint-mask. Miss Five is more interested in one carefully thought out painting using brushes. We end our painting session with a bath.
Another favourite is to tear up coloured paper and use glue to collage. Miss Eleven will make an artistic picture, Miss Five will also make a careful design and Miss Three will smear a piece of paper with glue then put random bits of paper on it, finishing with a smearing glue onto her body and, again, finishing with a bath. (Obviously in all these activities it’s important to use safe and non-toxic water soluble paints and glue).
Miss Eleven now has her own art and craft supplies. She loves water colours and creates beautiful sunset effects which make great backgrounds for cards and wrapping paper. We keep her supplies up high away from little fingers.
I usually have a small pack of crayons and paper in my hand bag for times when the littles are waiting or eating out.
Art and craft supplies and projects also make great gifts. We love to gift pastel crayons and good quality A3 art paper. The results using these supplies is very beautiful.
Art and craft isn’t just fun it’s also great for the different developmental phases. Young children benefit from the tactile nature of art and craft. They develop fine motor skills. And of course, it’s lots of fun.