Process NOT Product

by Kim

Allie did a wonderful post about play being a child’s job. That post hit it right on the head. Play is their job. I get asked a lot of questions about crafts from moms. Most of them come down to things like how often and how structured should a craft be for a young child?

If there is an activity and you want them to learn certain rules or concepts, then you should gently guide them. But unless the craft is something you are planning on entering into a competition try not to lead them every time. Are their crafts that you should? Yeah, I am pretty sure there are some you want a specific goal, like a Mother’s Day present for Grandma.

As caretakers we need to make an effort to step back every once in a while. Deliberately do an occasional craft with your child that is completely open. I mean completely.

Set out a work space filled with craft items, recycled items, and tools that you feel comfortable with your child using by themselves.

Introduce them to the work space and let them have at it!

I find myself struggling to not say, “Wouldn’t it look cool of we put this here?” or “How about making this look like this?” I find it better to just step away from the table all together.

I am usually pretty close, like in our kitchen when they are in the dining room. It is fun to listen to them talk about things as they are creating. I know that I am close enough to step in if needed or for an emergency.

Your children will love doing this. They will also love telling you all about their creations. Let’s face it, some need explanation.

This one was a gift from my son. It’s a camera. I can totally see it, too. I would not have thought to make one out of a tissue box and toilet paper roll, but a 4 year old does think of things like that.

It is great when you take time out to make sure that the process is emphasized more than the product sometimes. :-)

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

Baby Block Painting

Painting with an infant is messy. I don’t like using paint brushes with tiny kids because paint flings everywhere, they look like spoons so they tend to go straight in the mouth and even ones with thicker handles are hard for little hands. Instead using easy to wash plastic toys like these blocks are a great way to paint and explore .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, paint, blocks, plastic plate, painter’s tape and an eager baby.
  2. Start by using the painter’s tape to secure the paper. This is a must for us, for whatever reason my daughter has a serious fondness for paper. This keeps it as art instead of food.
  3. Pour some paint on the plate.
  4. Dip the block in and go for it.
  5. She examined it for a long time.
  6. Then started moving it around the paper. I took the other block and tapped it on the paper but she wanted to roll . It’s tempting to show babies and toddlers how to do things by holding their hands in yours and moving them, resist that urge when it’s a free exploration like this . Show them by example and then just narrate what they are doing. *( ETA – reader Brooke asked for an explanation about this and I want to make it clear that it’s not wrong to help your child do tasks by holding their hands , I was referring to free art explorations like this. My reasoning being that by letting them explore with their own motivation that they will direct their own play. I hope that clears it up ! Thanks Brooke!)
  7. She managed to get it up to her mouth but because the blocks are big not much made it in and was easy to wipe off.

With toddlers and preschoolers you can make fun shape prints with the blocks by slamming it down so if you have multiple ages this is a fun easy project for a rainy day.

Bubble Wand Painting

We were on vacation all last week and my in laws bought this massive bubble set for my son, which he loves. He’s already used up all the bubble solution and if you know my feelings about bubble solution you probably aren’t surprised when I found something else to do with the wands. I know I am a Scrooge but bubble solution skeeves me out. So if you are done with bubbles but the wands are hanging around grab them and make some art!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction or other heavier paper, a plate , paint in fun colors and some bubble wands.
  2. Put the paint on the paint and dip your wand in.
  3. Create!  This is an opened ended art project there are not complicated steps to follow or anyway to mess it up. If your child wants to make clear prints cool, if they want to spread the paint with the wands like a brush awesome. Just let them play.

Using unconventional tools to paint with has long been a favorite activity for me as a teacher and mom, it revives plain old painting as well as forces your child to think in a creative way. It doesn’t take many of these projects before your child will see a unconventional tool and suggest you try painting with it! Creative thinking at it’s best!