I started crafting with my girls when they were really little- Lili was a year and a half, and Rose- when it was her turn to join us- was not even a year old. Now crafting is our way to re connect, to go through another snow day, and to express our feelings. And after crafting for months for our book “The family Gratitude Project” , I can easily say that crafting is our favourite thing to do together!
Now, I know that many of you don’t want to craft with kids because of the mess it can involve – and I can totally understand where this is coming from! Nobody wants paint on their sofa, glue in their kids hair, and playdough all over the floor! And nobody wants to set up a complicated craft only to hear three minutes in ” I’m done” and then clean the mess all alone.
I really understand it! But in all honesty, there is a way to teach kids to craft and paint and create WITHOUT MAKING A MESS.
First, as in any learning curve you need to assume that at the beginning they will make some mess – but for my kids it’s been years ( they are 5 and 7 now) that the mess is really minimal and they usually clean it all on their own anyway now.
How to teach kids to craft without making a mess:
- Start when the are young ( 1-2 years old)
- Craft in one designed area. ( At the table far from rugs and sofas)
- Set the clear rules:
- Always sit at a table,
- Never walk around with paint/glue/playdough etc.
- No pushing and fighting at the craft table or it’s over.
- And ask your kids to repeat the rules with you before they start crafting.
- Start ( first year or so) by teaching them only one craft/art activity at a time -like only paint, or only cutting or only glueing on or only stamping or only using natural elements etc.
- Give them only enough materials to complete this one activity at a time at the beginning. Once they master it and don’t make a mess anymore, you can expand to more mix and match.
- Always pour the paint in to a small paint dish and small amount at a time. And use the washable paint! ( I still do it for my younger daughter!)
- Teach kids how to properly use art supplies: how to paint with a tip of the paint brush, how to cut out without everything falling down, how to use the right amount of glue etc. It will take time but it will pay off too!
- Teach them to help you clean from the very start and praise them for not making a lot of mess!
- While they grow older and more capable of cleaning up, let them mix mediums and make more elaborated crafts ( paint and crayons, glue and paper and stickers, natural elements like rocks and sticks to glue on paper and decorate , etc.)
- Set realistic expectations for their age and have fun!
I think that for me it all goes down to raising kids who will be able to find themself something to do on a rainy/snowy day, use their imagination, create and have fun without having me to clean up a huge mess after that!
And if you’re curious about how to start crafting with a baby- aka how to introduce a baby to art play- here are my tips!
I hope you’ll find this helpful!