Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June03_Coloring I am going to link this post up tomorrow to ABC and 123 discussion of arts and crafts. I am really looking forward to this discussion, exactly because I have very little to contribute and a lot of questions to ask. I have a confession to make - I am not crafty, and I mean at all. My father used to joke that, while God was giving away hands, I went in the opposite direction to be the first in line for brains. I am mostly a logical thinker. Ask me to solve a puzzle for you, and I consider it a challenge. But ask me to present you an answer to you in a visual form, and I will be lost. I think in words, not in images. That's why I always loved reading. And I cannot claim that I didn't have exposure to arts. I had plenty. As you probably know, what you call preschools here, were called kindergartens in the former Soviet Union. They were mandatory, free and state-run. They were also pretty good. I remember quite well days filled with all kinds of crafts. I disliked most of them and longed to sit in the corner and read (I was an early reader). I envied my friends who could whip up interesting projects out of modeling clay or paper. The only thing I could do is to color, cut the pictures and then play long pretend games with my paper family - talking, adding objects, assigning roles. Later in school we had art classes, music classes and the class that is sort of like your Home Economics. We had all this through 8 years of school, and I was delighted when we finally dropped them in high school, because those were my most challenging subjects. I was taught to sew, knit, etc., but I had very little desire to do so on my own. All my adult life I read, exercised, traveled or wrote journals for pleasure and relaxation. I never had motivation to draw a picture (of course, I doddle during boring meetings) or knit a scarf.

Now I have a daughter, and things are different. I did well personally and professionally, but I would love to see her more creative than myself. My husband complements me in this - he is very creative. He can sew, does simple carpentry, loves Lego blocks and created his own board games in the past. He always draws birthday cards and calendars. But he is also very mess-averse. He always takes care to organize his working space just so and immediately cleans up. Doing any arts project with our toddler stresses him out. Luckily, Anna goes to preschool for 2 days a week, and her preschool teaches ABC through art. They have a lot of projects similar to those featured on my current favorite crafts blog - Our Crafts and Things. I am thinking of making more art projects with her at home, but a few things keep interfering with my best intentions:

  • Time limitations - a lot of crafts require some preliminary assembly, work time and then clean-up time. Considering that we usually have about 2 hours together of time together between my arrival home and time for dinner/bedtime routine, I sort of prefer to spend this time in free play outside or doing activities that we both enjoy more - reading together or unstructured play of her choosing. Sadly, Anna rarely if ever chooses to do arts if she is not prompted to do so.

  • Energy level - again, after getting up before 6 am and spending full day in the office, I am pretty tired in the evening. Since for me art is work, I often simply lack motivation to guide Anna in this direction

  • Anna's natural interests. Unfortunately, she appears to be my daughter, after all. She likes art projects when she gets into them, but she doesn't spontaneously reach for them most of the time, even though she has free access to her play-doh box and to her cutting/sticker box. If she plays by herself (which is rare), she prefers puzzles, cars, or pretend cooking. Sometimes I question whether I should really "push" her into art, considering that I didn't develop any interest in it despite enough exposure.

  • Overwhelming number of choices. When I come to arts and crafts section of Target or any other store, I am blown away by options. What is the difference between tempura paint and finger paints? What is the glitter clue for? How to choose construction paper? That's why I am really looking forward to entries that will give some ideas for the best art supplies for young children. I'll be reading!


Kristiana said...

I always said I wasn't crafty and I NEVER had a desire to do them. I enjoy doing them w Zorro and watching him create things as well as working with him to learn new skill or build whatever craft it is we are making.
Our crafts are simple and I am finding joy in creating crafts that Z would love.

RE some of your concerns:

Time limitations.
Yes, there is a prep time. There's several options here. They sell kits at Joanns and Michaels so you have all the pieces right there no prep required.
OR you can do what I do. Use time when your LO is asleep to prep your own crafts. I spend about 1 HOUR total prepping for a weeks worth of crafts and activities. That means cutting and in putting together all the pieces of a project in a kit ready to go for later. Our crafts take no longer than 20 min unless he wants to draw them out.
You can make a few kits show them to her and when she desires to do them at some point you're ready to go. AND you can take them outside to them.
I would have Z do a craft a few times a week and once he started he LOVED it! Now he asks for it.

ALSO one thing I find PARTICULARLY important with regards to structured crafts is that at his age there should be an element of it that's NOT structured and choices that the child gets to make. They need to be able to OWN what it is they are making and be able to enjoy the creative process. This is why I like to make my own kits.
By unstructured I mean free painting and with the colors of their choices. Just because it's a fish in the ocean doesn't mean the water has to be blue. etc.

MaryAnne said...

I mostly do unstructured crafts with my kids, because they take less prep time and my kids seem to really enjoy them. Of course, I really like arts and crafts and so did my husband, and my children seem to have inherited that trait. But, I also think they like to do crafts because I always make sure they have new crayons, paper to draw on, and I buy them interesting art materials to try out. And I think they like the freedom of doing what they want with those materials instead of finishing a project.

I really recommend Crayola washable products - they come out of everything just with water (at least that I've had to get them out of so far) and big rolls of paper taped to the table or floor. I'll write more about all of this in my post tomorrow, hopefully it can help to give you some ideas...

BTW, I had siblings who didn't like crafts and they were usually much better at pretend play than I was - we all turned out great as adults and I remember envying their super-inventive pretend play storylines :)

Autumn said...

I'm not crafty either, nor am I artsy. But I LOVE giving the boys paint, crayons, or markers (washable, of course!) and letting them do whatever they choose, as you might be able to see from my FB photos :D. I'm fine with messes, especially if they're outside, so this type of "art" appeals to me, and the boys seem to like it too.

Tomorrow I'm planning on making watercolor paints with the boys and then painting...should be a colorful mess!

Crystal said...

I often get my ideas from other peoples blogs and choose ones with not a lot of prep work. For example while my daughter is coloring one part-I cut out the other pieces. I like to give her choices such as coloring, painitng, etc. Another way to get her excited is to use a book or something she already likes as a jumping off point and create something based on that. It can be as simple as coloring a picture or make puppets and having her retell the story. Also always buy washable products-it will really help out.

Branflakes said...

I would start with plain construction paper (doen't matter which kind) and crayons, markers, or paint (tempera is good). While you are cooking dinner, set it on the table and let her have at it. I wouldn't pressure her into it, just have it avalible to use when she wants.

Ticia said...

Okay, I saw your post and decided to write a what's what of craft supplies I could think of. Here's the post:

Diana said...

I love how honest you are in this post. I love doing projects myself, but still struggle to do art projects with my kids. I don't like the mess. I'm learning. I have found giving my boys some crayons and a sheet of stickers is a great, non-messy art project. I believe that anything we do with our children is good, so if art isn't your thing and reading is, keep reading and enjoy your children.

Katie said...

I love crafting so I guess it's come easily to me and doesn't seem like a hard thing to incorporate. I'm adopted but my mom loved to draw and encouraged us to do art projects. So I don't know if I was "taught" to like crafts or if she just encouraged a tendancy I'd have had anyway.

I would suggest that art in early childhood should be open ended so don't worry about too much prep. My child does not have access to her art supplies, so I don't know if she'd go to them on her own. I offer them to her a lot and then do a lot of talking with her while she does them. So it can still be a fun time to be together. I suggest giving her paints and paper and just letting her go to town. Discuss and talk with her while she's doing them and talk about how fun it is. Even if it seems forced at first, eventually it will be fun for both of you - I hope!

I see you read the post about art supplies but let me know if you have any questions.

growinginpeace said...

I'm with you on the crafting with kids. Mind you, I have a crafty side and taught myself how to sew with a sewing machine and embroider - so that I can make toys for the kids. But I usually dislike crafting with the kids, they do get plenty of crafting time with the schools, so I don't feel the need to focus on it at home. That being said, I do look for art supplies for them and let them create what they want out of them. I've used my scrapbooking punches to cut out circles and squares (and cut some in half to make half circles and triangles or rectangles) out of colored construction paper and then given them sheets of black construction paper to paste them onto.

But, for the most part, I do math and science experiments with them, even though I'm home all day long with them. Crafting with them is just not what I like to do. come up with the neatest things all on their own. I don't think you need to do much except provide the materials and let them figure out what they want to do.