On their own, craft activities tend to lose out to traditional subjects like English and mathematics in the classroom, certainly among older children. Yet, as learning modules designed to help youngsters understand the building blocks of many more advanced concepts, craft sessions are invaluable.
Making musical instruments from household objects, painting the scene depicted in a piece of classical music, using food to make new colours and shapes in artwork – all of this and much, much more, lets young kids get their hands dirty, their imaginations engaged and their heads around topics in science, health, social studies and culture. And it doesn’t have to take a huge chunk out of your department’s budget, either. Music can be streamed via YouTube, say, while value-for-money art supplies can be ordered from the likes of Hope Education.
Craft for pre-schoolers
Not only are craft sessions for under-fives perfect for keeping them entertained on rainy days, they’re perfect for getting stuck into new concepts as well as developing a child’s fine motor skills. Whether it’s mixing paint to create new colours or filling cloth parcels with sand to make rudimentary juggling balls – the act of expression through craft will help to cement foundations for later learning.
The benefits of craft in pre-schoolers can include: building confidence and self-esteem; achieving a positive emotional response to certain learnings; developing an understanding of different cultures; encouraging higher thinking skills and creative problem-solving.
Craft for older children
Moving on from using craft as a means to understand new ideas, in older children it becomes entertaining in its own right. It gives them belief in their own convictions and decisions.
However, one of the results of that newfound self-confidence is a stronger sense of what they do and don’t want to take part in. So don’t try to force a child to take part in a craft activity. You may put them off trying such an activity for a period of time, so try instead to modify the task or come up with an engaging alternative.
Keeping it relatively simple is another way to broaden a craft activity’s appeal. It’s very easy to overestimate your class members’ abilities so make sure you pick a task that both they and you can do, with the maximum amount of enjoyment for all. There’s nothing more disheartening as hitting a roadblock that your skills can’t get around, just yet.
If you’re trying something for the first time, say a new material or technique, it might be a good idea to practise with something really simple first, so that everyone gets the hang of it. Even if you think your starter, practice project may not pack enough of a challenge, it’s a good way to build a child’s confidence and leave them eager to try something trickier.
By guest blogger, Patrick Vernon