Thanks to the internet, there are loads of amazing and fun examples of “things to do” with your kids during these rainy days. But usually, similar to how I treat cookbooks, I look at the pictures, skim over the materials needed, and decide it’s too complicated. Then I pull out a coloring book or playdough and call it Crafts. It can be intimidating to see some of the gorgeous items that come out of parents’ imaginations and creativity. Sites like Random Handprints, Anna the Red, New Jersey Family, Barista Kids, A Child Grows in Brooklyn, and loads of more ad-heavy sites give us a dearth of excuses designed to avoid crafty fun. I’ve tried to replicate several projects, and often the turn out looking like a pre-schooler made them. Go figure.
Happily, I’ve learned that my kids don’t need our own crafts to look as spectacularly perfect as what I see on the internets. And when we’ve tried to imitate crafts, and things don’t work out, we still love what WE made. Besides, they both attend a very art-oriented preschool for a few hours a day, and they come home with painted and creative and practically perfect in every way crafts. See below for some pre-school examples:
Adorable, right? And even though I suspect that they are very teacher-guided, by son feels great pride about them. AND he knows his ABCs and 123s really well. However, at home, I don’t want to do all that painting and planning when I know it’s just a fifteen minute craft and double that for cleaning up. Let the school handle that. Horrible, I know.
Anyway, in our home, we settle for less-than-perfect, but it’s still fun and the kids get to feel a lot of control and ownership over their creations. Some examples:
I know what you’re thinking: What the heck is that mess of limp paper and sloppy glue? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s a neighborhood of my son’s imagining. He told me what he wanted, we cut out basic shapes, and then he got to decorate it, glue it, and stick stuff in random places. We made this weeks ago, but he still wants it in his room to look at it. The one-eyed monster actually sits facing out to “keep watch over the neighborhood.” There is also a palm tree – on our block!
Here’s another one: A dinosaur; I don’t know what kind. Both of my kids wanted to make a dinosaur, and I had no idea what to do. So we picked one out (thank goodness they
didn’t want the triceratops!), and I cut it out of cardboard. Then they got to stick pieces of snipped up construction paper where they thought it would fit and then they stuck left-over Easter stickers all over it. They both came out great, and now the dinosaurs have adventures together and even keep watch while they are sleeping. Would they win any awards? No way. Is it obvious that we are near the end of the construction paper pack? Absolutely (green and yellow predominate!). Did I encourage them to use things that I wanted to get rid of anyway? You bet. But the important thing is that they had fun, I had fun, and
they felt like THEY had really created something excellent.
So basically, the moral of the story is to not allow fear of imperfection to stymie opportunities for kids to create fun stuff. There is absolutely a place for more polished crafts, but after
five six days of rain – we’re talking about just saving our sanity, aren’t we? And no one has to see what you’ve created but the people who will think it’s museum-worthy anyway.