I’d like to welcome a special guest today, Maria Hughes from the Children’s Bookstore. The Children’s Bookstore is a wonderful on-line resource for anyone looking for the best children’s books. This website features “Must Read Lists” such as the best Alphabet Books, the Best Books for Summer, Books for Boys, Favorite Fairy Tales, and many, many more. You can also browse on-line by category (e.g., Animals, Humour, Legends, Myths, & Fables, Transportation, etc.) and by age category. I could theoretically spend all day on this one website! lol If you haven’t been there before, I strongly urge you to visit the Children’s Bookstore. Maria is graciously sharing with us some recommendations for Age-Appropriate Craft Books.
Crafting By the Numbers – Five age-appropriate Craft Books
Children are inquisitive little learners. As my experience goes, they are constantly looking for a project to get those busy little hands of theirs into. I know for myself, when my boys were younger they loved anything that could be smeared around, you name it: paint, mud, cake batter. I was constantly looking for more constructive ways to channel their energies and through the use of crafting books , I did in fact find more productive ventures. Though I still needed to keep the mop handy (yep, we did make a paper mâché piñata from scratch one rainy afternoon) the hours spent on the projects were always worth the while.
It is important to note that the crafts should absolutely be age-appropriate. There is nothing more frustrating to a three-year-old than to try to make something that their hands are not physically able to perform, for example cutting shapes, coloring in the lines (don’t forget that one) tying knots or any type of complicated skills. My own mother was bound and determined to show the boys how to knit when they were still in preschool and believe me, never was there a quicker disposal of knitting needles and yarns, they shed the items out of frustration and swore to never, ever learn again. Above all, keep the craft simple and remember that it should always be fun.
Toddler, Age 3
This is where your toddler is just starting to figure out about how to make things all on their own. Whether they are stacking Legos, blocks, picking flowers or rolling cars on the carpet, they realize that they are capable of making something completely separate of mom and dad. This can be a fun age and again I repeat the need to keep it very simple. Good ideas here would be finger painting, making play dough (they can help choose the colors) simple is key here. A good source can be found in Crafts and Gifts by Carson-Dellosa Publishing, which is chock-full of cut outs and coloring pages, and other easy craft ideas for hours and hours of fun.
Preschool, Ages 4-6
Again be prepared for some meltdowns with this age; they are older, but are still in need of lots of assistance and very simple instructions. But that doesn’t mean that preschoolers still can’t have some fun. A good book to try would be Create with Maisy, by Lucy Cousins. Inside this book you’ll find seventeen cute and simple crafts to while away a rainy day with your little one.
Kindergarten and young elementary, Ages 6 and older
At this age your child has advanced to some of the more basic set of crafting fundamentals, they are comfortable with using a pair of scissors (blunt tip, of course) and can trace and manage a pencil and crayon with relative ease. Allowing them to use their own tools is important because it can allow them that independence they seem to crave—Kindergarteners want less parental intervention. Along with having the ability to use their own tools, 6 years are probably also well-accustomed seeing a project from start to finish, and it’s important for them to start finishing projects for themselves. My First Craft Book, by Susan Akass, offers very hands-on and inspiring ideas for elementary children, including making costumes, jewelry, masks, and some simple sewing projects. Another great books for children of this age is the Kid’s Multicultural Craft Book, by Roberta Gould. Let your young child explore crafts from beyond our American standard fare with this wonderful book, including African drums and headdresses, Russian nesting dolls and Greek sandals. What fun!
Older children and Beyond
With this age group, why not take a little trip to the not-so-distant past through crafts. My Little House Crafts Book, by Carolyn Collins, is full of those projects Laura Ingalls Wilder busied herself with while traveling along the wagon trails, or when snowed-in on a dark, winter’s night. If your child is of an historical mindset, they can learn all about our pioneering heritage while immersing themselves in all kinds of unusual projects. If history is their passion, then a “Little House on the Prairie”-inspired birthday party would be great fun. Encourage your guests to arrive in costume, use the Little House Cookbook – Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder, for your birthday menu. This would be a great way to recreate our pioneering past with a little flair of modern day fun.
Arts and crafts are critical to the developmental needs of children. They inspire creativity, independence, critical thinking, self-image, perseverance and goal setting. When a child sees the final phase of their project coming together it helps reinforce the importance of completing projects, working with others, and listening and following directions. So when those messy projects are proudly displayed upon your refrigerators, be proud of your little one’s accomplishments. Though you may have to explain the picture to others, it won’t matter to your child. Their work is on display for the whole world to enjoy. Like childhood, these crafty projects are fleeting; one day they’ll be replaced with sports schedules and school dance flyers. But in the meantime, make the most of it and encourage lots of projects to fill the surface of that stainless steel.
Maria L Hughes is a children’s book enthusiast, parent, and online publisher for childrensbookstore.com. She enjoys blogging about reading and kid’s books.