As summer has now sprung and many families are blessed to have a few months of extra time with their littles, Flower City Bitties has been inundated with requests for kid-friendly crafts. My first reaction with each request has been “Kid-craft ideas!? Of course I’ve got ideas. Not only am I a craft guru but I also have two tiny humans tugging at mywaist on the daily. I’ve got this!” (no joke, as I wrote that line my 15-month old dumped a bag of Cheerios onto my kitchen floor). To avoid minimizing my expertise, I really do have a great grasp of craft ideas for any occasion and have the innate ability to discover new crafts when my toolbox seems incomplete.
So off I went, on my kid craft journey, scouring Pinterest and the internet for amazing ideas for my followers to try out this summer. Lucky for me, this research will come in handy for me personally while I spend “lazy” summer days with my own kids at home. My Pinterest board is now full and my mind exploding with ideas to disseminate to the masses! And here’s the deal, there are a TON of ideas on Pinterest for DIY kid crafts. You don’t necessarily need my expertise to easily access the vast options out there for you and your family. But here are my things to consider, as you try to decide which crafts will actually be successful:
Age/Ability: You obviously know the kiddos you will be working with. Be realistic about their ability levels and not just age (insert mantra that states “no two kids develop the same skills at the same time”). For me, my three year old would be okay at finger painting but prefers to throw things. So yeah, visions of paint flying around and hitting me and my 15-month old are swarming my head. No finger-painting for us…
Craft Difficulty Level: The entire goal of picking a plethora of crafts for your kids is to occupy their time with something enjoyable. Make sure what you have selected is actually within your kids ability level; you get to decide how much adult assistance you are willing to give. Last spring I attempted to make salt dough with my then two year-old. He wasn’t so good at measuring out the ingredients BUT was a rockstar as smooshing out the dough and making his hand-print; overall, I called it a success. At no point did he throw a tantrum out of frustration because the project was too hard or I was micromanaging every step. However, I attempted a microwave soap experiment last summer that was a disaster. The soap burned and filled my entire house with smoke; it was literally toxic and we spent the entire day outside while my house cleared out. My poor little man was so confused, because I had built up the anticipation for this amazing project that ended up making us both cough and gag. Oops!
Parent Involvement Needed: As mentioned above, this factor will differ greatly for everyone. Some weeks I am all-in and willing to walk through every step with my little guy. Other times my crafting goal is to just let him go, with little help from me (think sidewalk chalk style). When I was brainstorming ideas in late spring, per customer requests, forefront in my mind was how much help from an adult was necessary for each project; my goal was not to create a stressful and chaotic environment that puts parents OCD need for order into disarray. The goal was to find that balance between adult involvement and kid independence.
Mess-Factor: Oddly enough, messes make me anxious sometimes, especially when they involve unpredictable children. Make sure to consider your surroundings when selecting your crafts. Would it be best to do this outside? Do you have outside space and decent weather? Is clean up easy and quick, because we all know kids don’t have a strong ability to sit quietly while adults restore order to the world? I found an adorablecanvas painting craft meant for smaller children this spring that involved footprints. I was so excited until my customer pointed at that at the venue we would be doing this craft, access to a sink to wash paint from feet wasn’t really great. Ugh, there went that idea, at least for that venue!
Utility: This is a biggy for me. I LOVE homemade stuff from my kids, I really do. But I recognize that especially as my kids become school-aged, they will be coming home regularly with work to display on our refrigerator. My goal, when brainstorming with my customers this spring, was to find crafts to do with kids that offered some sort of utility (I will admit that I did select a handful of crafts that will eventually add to the fridge-decor clutter, but I couldn’t resist). So I found garden stone crafts, DIY birdhouses, dragon noisemakers.
So there it is. It is not an infallible formula, but it is helpful. Enjoy these messy moments (a throwback to an earlier post!) and watch your kids embark on a creative journey. As I have said before, it isn’t necessarily about the end product and is more about the time spent together making the memories.
Lauren Harrison, Co-Founder/Partner