K is for kids & crafting.
I confess I do get a bit control freaky when my 5 year old son wants to help me do my craft. He loves making things and decorating them. His latest craze is ‘junk modelling’, AKA ‘sticky taping recycling together, and calling it a rocket’. He also likes to make cards and has in the past helped himself to sheets of my scrapbooking paper (50p a sheet!!) to make me a card. Talk about mixed feelings – he’d not long been writing, so the fact that he’d written in it was lovely. However, the more I looked at it the more the realisation dawned that he’d nicked the paper straight out of my craft room! After a few hugs, thank yous, and stern words about asking first, we have both managed to move on from the event, and thankfully it has not been repeated!
There are lots of options for crafting with little ones, depending on the level of mess you are willing to get involved with. Rubber stamping is excellent, as you can stamp over and over again, and unlike stickers for example, you’ll never run out. However, it is frankly impossible for a small child to rubber stamp with an ink pad and not cover themselves, their clothes, and most of the furniture with ink. This is why we stick mainly to, ahem, stickers, and particularly free ones off the front of a crafting or kiddies magazine. If they’re free I know that I can let him loose with them without constantly thinking ‘that’s 75p of stickers he’s used already!’ He has made some lovely cards with stickers in the past, but the last card he made was a bit more advanced.
You may have noticed in my ‘Happy Birthday’ post that I have some Scooby Doo 3D-decoupage sheets, just waiting to be cut out and built up. I thought he’d enjoy making a Scooby Doo card, so I chose a design that had some nice straightforward shapes to cut, explained what he had to do, and let him get on with it. There was a little incident when he cut off something that should have stayed attached, but we fixed it with a bit of sticky tape on the back, so it was all good, and the tears were over with quickly. He did get a bit carried away with the sticky foam pads, but I managed to ration them in time. He even chose the backing papers to use, and how he wanted the bits laid out on the card. This is the finished product:
I was very proud. I’d been making a card too, and although we’d been sat crafting together, we were both doing our own thing. That meant that Isaac felt he had a lot of control over what he was doing. I was still able to watch him and make sure he wasn’t going crazy with the scissors, but could also metaphorically step back and let him utilise his own creativity. Obviously children will need supervising when doing any sort of craft, even if it’s just to ensure that stickers are stuck to the paper and not the wall, chair or face of a younger sibling. But it’s also important to remember that they are individuals, with their own ideas, and it’s good to be able to lose the mothering instinct for just a little while and allow them to discover themselves. So maybe the card will have stickers all up one side and nothing on the other (or in Isaac’s case, when he was small he always insisted on leaving the outside of a card blank and covering the inside with as much stuff as he could cram on), but it’ll be their own work, and you’ll treasure it far more in the future than you would if you’d butted in and told them where to put stuff.
I guess the moral is to have things put aside that they can go crazy with (and you won’t be stressing if it’s all used up inside 10 minutes), and to take a deep breath and let them discover the joys of creating something by themselves.