On a recent visit to my parents’ home, my mom asked me to go through some of my childhood things she still had. Among them were crafts from elementary school. I wish I had thought to take pictures of them, but I’ll have to do that when they bring them here the next time they visit.
We’re talking humble crafts. In the age of Pinterest, these are rinky dink.
- Pink wax with pink glitter poured into a school milk carton to make a square candle.
- A dipped beeswax candle and a candle holder made of clay and then glazed.
And so on. (Update: Pictures are here.)
Simple School Crafts Of A 1970s Childhood
And yet I remember making every single one of them. Crafts weren’t something we did that often in school. The only other place I did crafts was Girl Scouts if it was related to a badge we were working on.
Like the mom in I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical, my parents didn’t plan craft projects for us. We had construction paper, crayons, and glue around the house. Tape was rationed. I remember some paper doilies. We had coloring books. (I liked to color.) That was about it.
In the 70’s, parents were not obsessed with maximizing their child’s every moment. I read a lot of books and my brother spent most of his time running around the neighborhood with his friends (unsupervised, as was the norm).
Which gets me to my point.
I Don’t Plan Crafts For My Child
I don’t do crafts with Caroline. I don’t plan them. I don’t scour the internet for fascinating, intricate crafts to do with her. I just don’t see the point.
I do supply Caroline with oodles of craft materials. We have a cabinet full of art and craft supplies and she’s free to use them whenever she wants. Like most right-brained children, she LOVES creating with her hands. She will sit for hours creating things out of cardboard, patterned Duck tape, regular tape, craft foam, construction paper, etc. But I don’t plan any of it. I don’t look for things for her to make. (My gift to her is that I’ve learned to cope with the neverending mess and projects that end up ev.er.y.where.)
I think this is one area where homeschool moms put unnecessary pressure on themselves which can, in turn, lead to burnout. Do you know how much time it takes to look for amazing crafts, track down (and pay for) all the special supplies, and then do the actual craft? In my opinion, the return on investment isn’t worth it.
Encouraging Creativity In My Child
I would rather take Caroline to Hobby Lobby or Michaels once or twice a year and give her fifty dollars to spend on craft supplies that interest her. We go armed with coupons and a budget. Not only does she get what she wants, she also learns about tradeoffs because she has to stay within her budget.
If I’m constantly supplying her with fancy craft projects, then she doesn’t really learn to appreciate what it takes both in terms of time and money to do them.
So if you are feeling depressed by all of the amazing things moms are posting on Pinterest… Don’t be. You aren’t the only homeschooling mom out there who isn’t doing spectacular crafts each week.
In my opinion, if you provide a variety of interesting materials for your child to use, you are doing a good job.
And sometimes good is enough.
Caroline’s Craft Essentials
These are some of Caroline’s current craft favorites. See a more comprehensive list here.
Felt Fabric SheetsChenille Stems/Pipe CleanersAleene’s Original Tacky GlueSharpie Color Burst Permanent Markers, Fine PointDuct Tape 6-PackMini Hot Glue GunPony Beads Multi ColorElmer’s 3D Washable Glitter Pens
LOL on the tape rationing. I buy it by the block at the $ store … And although there’s the follow-the-instructions, cut-on-the-dotted-lines activity book, my 5 yr old comes up with her own crafts too – whether it’s a 2 inch square book on germs (“germs can make you sick” and gems of that nature) or the 3 place-setting batch of playdoh dinnerware she’s making right this minute – it’s just more fun.
We put so much pressure on ourselves, don’t we? This is a good article. 😐
Vicky – Caroline loves tape! Glue takes too long to dry and can’t keep up with her creativity so she’s a tape girl. LOL!
Starr – One of my goals in life is to help moms take some of the pressure of themselves. We’re already doing a great job in so many ways. I want to encourage other women to just enjoy the process. The good thing about writing to share with others is I’m preaching to myself at the same time 🙂
We love glue sticks here, a lot more precise.
We do some crafts, but mostly it’s my kids playing with projects in their free time.
LOVE this, Sallie! 🙂
Ticia – The problem with glue sticks is they don’t hold together the elaborate creations she comes up with. Tape and Duck Tape are the things that work best. 🙂
Brandy – Thanks! 🙂
OMG, I feel like I’ve “met” a kindred spirit! My daughter is like yours — wildly creative but on her own terms. I learned early on that “planned” crafts just don’t work for her. She wants to do what she wants to do, period. Love the idea of giving a budget (with coupons!) and going to town in a craft store. Definitely going to try this going into summer.
Hi Michelle! It’s nice to meet you. We tried the craft store shopping spree for the first time last summer and it was a big hit. It is fun to watch the creative little ones do their thing, isn’t it? Once I got past the “I’m not a good mom if I don’t do crafts with my child” thing, I realized how nice it was to have a child who is thrilled to come up with her own ideas and creations. 🙂
Ginger @ School en casa
I think planned crafts are mostly a waste of time amd resources. Children are so creative, if we will let them be! I love the craft store shopping spree. We do something similar!
Hi Ginger! I think if a mom and her child truly enjoy doing crafts together then it is a great thing and they should enjoy it. But for many moms who are already running at full capacity with the academic basics… Let the children be creative on their own! 🙂
I love this! I used to make so many “doll houses” out of cardboard boxes or create villages for my “Indians” (Barbies with my own clothing creations). We had a room in our teeny house that was just for my crafts and it was in constant disarray and full of creations.
I think there is a time and place for planned crafts. It’s a great and fun way to learn to follow directions and practice application. However, creative license should definitely be given free reign when possible.
My boys routinely ask for duct tape, masking tape, clear tape, & electrical tape for Christmas. Their aunts shake their heads, but happily oblige. I did draw the line at requesting super glue! Their “craft” projects usually consist of guns, swords and shields and any other weapon they can dream up.
Lilith Sofia - Life after borderline
Thank you for this post. I feel the same way. My daughter is so creative, when she wants to be and on her on terms. So I don’t plan anything, she does what she wants when she wants it.
Amen! Thank you for taking the pressure off. “Sometimes good, is good enough” Yessss!!