Hope for Craft-Challenged Moms

Filed under: Opinions

Over the years I've written books and countless articles about keeping kids creatively occupied in the summer. This being the case, people naturally assume that I'm an arts-and-crafts diva -- you know, the kind of mom who saves Styrofoam meat trays and keeps a glue gun in her back pocket. Summer activities for moms like this include projects like building Monticello out of Popsicle sticks and throwing pottery made of dryer lint and white glue.

Believe me, I am not that kind of mom. Not even close. Truth is, when God handed out the craft gene he bypassed me. This presented a challenge when my boys were young because, a) I wanted to raise creative, resourceful kids, which means, b) minimal TV, which means, c) fun activities ready to fill the void, which means either, d) plenty of money for regular trips to Toys "R" Us, or e) an arsenal of low-cost ideas for battling boredom. In my case it was the latter, so I began preparing for war. Without the benefit of the Internet and Web sites chockfull of creative ideas -- where did all you creative moms come from? -- I launched into research mode. I scoured books and magazines, interviewed elementary school teachers, and surveyed super-crafty moms about their simplest projects. I sorted through a growing pile of sources (colored tabs were involved) sprouting creative games and outings, free and low-cost activities, and recipes for paints, clays -- even rice mosaics -- that didn't require a degree in art education. From then on, I entered each summer armed and ready.

But I need to get something off my chest, and I hope you uber moms won't hold this against me. My extensive repertoire of arts and crafts -- homemade paints and bubbles, stretchy putty made from liquid starch, numerous recipes for salt beads and sculpting clay -- gave me little satisfaction. But watching my boys learn new things, develop in important ways, and beam with artists' pride sure did. So I continued collecting ideas, adding to my notebook, and praying that all the activities and often-messy projects would one day pay off, producing creative young adults. They did, and here's proof: John, Joel, James.

Whether you consider yourself ultra-creative or craft-remedial like me, these ideas will make a nice addition to your summer arsenal for combating boredom and raising creative kids.

Creative summer fun. Photo courtesy of www.makeandtakes.com

Create a well-stocked craft cabinet. It's good to be prepared when creative genius strikes by stocking up ahead of time. A large plastic bin is a great place to store craft supplies. Corral small items in self-sealing plastic bags.

Plan for fun. Use summer planning forms to simplify daily plans and make sure you have the right supplies on hand for fun.

Make clean-up easier. An old shower curtain liner makes an excellent drop cloth for messy projects. To protect kids' clothes, cut the sleeves off of Dad's old shirts and have kids wear them backwards as art smocks.

Dig in. Before your kids head outside to play in the dirt or sand, have them dig their fingernails into a bar of soap for easier cleaning later.

Check out these Web sites for fun ideas.

www.familyfun.go.com
www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts
www.theideabox.com
www.plaidkidscrafts.com

Kathy Peel is a popular speaker and the author of 20 books, including The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home , winner of the 2009 Mom's Choice Award for Best Family and Parenting Resource and a 2009 National Parenting Publications Honoree. Visit www.familymanager.com to learn more about creating a happy, organized home. Follow Kathy on Twitter.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.