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