Monday, February 10, 2014

Encouraging Creativity in Your Homeschool Through Arts and Crafts (Guest Post)

When I was a child, I spent hours creating imaginary worlds in which I was the main character.  We never had much in the way of financial means, so I had to rely on my own ingenuity to occupy my time rather than on fancy toys with bells and whistles.  I spent hours writing my own stories, drawing pictures, or creating fantasy worlds in my backyard with only  a few sticks and a piece of lumber.  While there were times back then that I wished that I had more things that would take some of the creative burden off my two little shoulders, I realize as an adult that all of that time spent creating from the corners of my own imagination was an immense benefit to me.

Now that I am a mother, I strive to encourage my own children to utilize the ideas and worlds locked away in their brains.  I am blessed to be able to provide them with more tools than I had for this so I attempt to set up frequent times during our week where they are allowed to participate in both structured and unstructured crafting time.

I've heard parents that have similar desires to do this for their children, but either don't know where to begin or are scared of the mess that can accompany the creations.  At Mrs. Warde's request, I will be sharing a few tips and suggestions based on how I do things in my home. 

Supplies to Have Available 

Most of these things you can find at dollar stores or you can get a better deal by purchasing them in bulk like in the links provided.  The latter option works best for me because we use up things so quickly it can be hard to keep things in stock.

There are other supplies that I usually have around like ribbon, bottle caps, craft sticks and other miscellaneous items.  These are things that I save after their original use because I never know when they will  be just the thing we need to add the finishing touch to our project. I organize all of our supplies in labeled bins for ease of use.

Moving on to actually getting our hands dirty...

Tips for Unstructured Craft Times
  • Refrain from giving too many directives.  Just provide the materials and let the children create without much guidance.  
  • Provide help if asked, but don't interject without a request to do so. 
  • Never criticize your child's creation.
  • Don't worry about the mess.  I repeat, don't worry about the mess.  Safeguard the area with newspaper or an old sheet, but don't fret over the clean up.  Creativity is often messy.  Which would you rather remember?  The time that your child made a robot with pipe cleaners and a cereal box just for Mommy or the time when you you had a conniption because there was playdough in the carpet? Messes can be cleaned.  Memories are forever. 

Tips for Structured Craft Times
  • Choose activities that correspond to lessons or interests. Studying about horses? Make one out of clay. Learning about a specific country?  Research and fine a related craft. Pinterest is full of ideas at your fingertips.  You can also invest in or borrow craft books from your library. 
  • Craft with them. Children love to have their parents involved in activities with them.  Roll up your sleeves and work alongside them!
  • Don't worry about the mess.  Read above.
  • Don't be afraid to try new things. If something about your planned craft isn't working out, it's perfectly fine to adapt and change things to make something new. Go with the flow.
I don't necessarily schedule in crafting time unless I've found something that will accentuate a topic we are studying.  Since my children are so young, we are typically finished with our school work by early afternoon.  This leaves several hours before dinner to fill. This is the prime time to pull out the supplies to occupy little hands and minds.  I've found that it also cuts down on bickering and requests for screen time.

I also try to allow them to create whenever they ask unless there is something more pressing to be accomplished first. I don't want to squelch the desire.  Imagination is key to a fun childhood!

Recommended Resources

 Do you have utilize arts in crafts in your homeschool? 

Dusty is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of four and has been married to the love of her life,  a Southern gentleman, for 8 years.  She is trying to find her own path in this great wide world while devouring chocolate and leaning on the Lord.  She blogs about homeschooling, homemaking, motherhood and faith at To the Moon and Back.  Follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. You can also find her at Breastfeeding Place, Blessed Beyond a Doubt, and The Multi Taskin' Mom.

-- Dusty Blog: To the Moon and Back Facebook Twitter

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