Getting Crafty with Your Kids
Shelly Reagan of Charlestown, Indiana, and her children Jude, 5, and Lena, 3, create fish out of paper plates, cupcake liners, and glue.
Has mid-summer boredom hit your house?
The long lazy days of summer we all look forward to in May can quickly become dull and monotonous for your kids. Crafts can be great boredom busters, help improve fine motor skills and engage your child’s mind in fun and creative ways.
Expert crafters Jordan Kavuma, owner of Thistle and Thread Design, and Shelly Reagan, a teacher at Charlestown Middle School, offer some advice on at-home crafting with your kids.
Jordan Kavuma, mom to two-and-a-half-year-old Zuri and four-month-old Naomi, advises those just starting out to keep it simple. She suggests purchasing a few craft items in three main categories: foundation (paper, canvas), media (markers, pencils, paints) and embellishments (stickers, pompoms, glitter). She recommends buying two or three items from each category and then either replenishing those items or choosing new ones in the category. She says to let your child experiment with new supplies and explore their own creativity.
Shelly Reagan, mother of Jude, 5, and Lena, 3, says you can find a variety of inexpensive craft supplies at dollar stores. She recommends stocking up on pipe cleaners, beads, buttons, popsicle sticks, construction paper, stickers, glue, crayons, and markers.
Shelly, Jude and Lena work on their paper plate fish.
Crafting doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of fun and creative pieces you can make using household items.
Shelly said paper plates and toilet paper rolls are her go-to budget-friendly craft supplies.
“Everyone has toilet paper or paper towel rolls at home, and there are so many fun things you can do with them. Paper plates are fantastic, too. Get the cheapest ones you can find. We used so many paper plates during quarantine,” she said.
Shelly said her kids made elephant faces out of paper plates by cutting off the textured edge to create a trunk and gluing it to the middle of the plate. They used paint daubers to decorate and paint the face.
She said her son Jude created monkeys, elephants, and lions out of toilet paper rolls.
“Jude is very into animals. He replicated the entire Louisville Zoo with toilet paper roll animals. I finally had to limit him to making two a day,” she said.
They also created snowmen by painting toilet paper rolls white, decorating them with markers and stacking them together. Shelly said they made dinosaurs out of old diaper boxes by gluing construction paper eyes, teeth, arms, and legs onto the boxes.
Creating with Toddlers
Jordan says daughter Zuri loves to draw on long sheets of butcher paper spread out on the floor.
“I really let Zuri take the lead. I sit down and show her some options of what she can do and then let her do it,” Jordan says. “If I have too much of an idea of the end product it can lead to frustration. It works best for us if I provide her with the opportunity and supplies and then let her create. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Another craft Jordan does with her daughter is creating fun faces.
“I draw a basic face on a piece of paper and then let Zuri fill it in. We have little pom pom balls and jeweled stickers for her to use,” she said.
Jordan says she’s found some great ideas on busytoddler.com, which offers creative and fun learning activities for children 1-7.
“The ideas are easy to execute and source and provide an opportunity to interact with your child. They provide step-by-step instructions for all the activities,” she said.
Jordan Kavuma and two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Zuri draw people on a long sheet of butcher paper.
Benefits of Crafting with Kids
According to Shelly, crafts offer a wide range of benefits including developing and improving fine motor skills by working with scissors, writing with pens and pencils, coloring, and gluing. This is a skill children will work to develop throughout their elementary school years. For parents of children with cognitive and physical disabilities, crafting can be a fun and entertaining way to help improve their fine
Crafts also allow children to work with different shapes, colors, and textures. Shelly says crafting at home in a relaxed comfortable environment encourages children to experiment and explore.
“Anytime you’re using your imagination and creativity, you’re fighting that brain drain we tend to see in school-aged children during the summer months,” Shelly says.
Ideas for Non-Crafty Parents
Not everyone loves the smell of glue sticks and construction paper, but even those less crafty parents can be creative with their kids.
“It doesn’t have to be a complicated craft. My kids love just coloring pictures. They’ve made so many pictures they covered the walls of their rooms with them,” Shelly says.
Have your child trace their hand on a piece of paper and see what animals they can create from the outline.
Try reading a book together and drawing a picture of what you think the characters look like, or draw an alternate ending to your favorite book or make one of your own.
Both moms agree. It’s not about the final product — it’s about spending time with your child and allowing them to express themselves creatively.