Being a Crafty Parent… When You Just Aren’t

I am not a crafty person although if someone could become a crafty lady on just a strong desire and urge to craft, I would be the queen of crafting. Instead of throwing my hands up and telling my kids that mommy just can’t do that stuff, I have made a commitment to be as creative as I can be. This may mean looking to others for guidance and lugging out a zillion books from the library, but I will do the best I can with my limited abilities. I want my children to remember how fun their mom was and how she wasn’t afraid to craft with them, even if their projects looked ten times better than mine.

Let’s face it though, for people like me, crafting is a lot of work. When creativity doesn’t come naturally you may have to work at it more, but it can be a wonderful way to bond with your children and to teach them an appreciation for the arts.

Here are some things that we are trying in our house:

  • Designate a spot in your house for all things crafty that will make it easier to organize your items. It can be something as simple as a plastic crate or it can be a cabinet where you store your art supplies. For houses with limited space, under-the-bed organizers can be a great place to store all of your supplies. Try to keep this stocked with paper, colored pencils, crayons, popsicle sticks, felt, scissors, pipe cleaners and anything else that can keep your child entertained.
  •  Start keeping a file folder of craft ideas for your children. When you see something in a magazine or website, tear it out or make a copy of it for your file folder. When you need a stroke of inspiration in your day, pull out the file and work from that.
  • If you do a lot of work on the computer or find it easier to keep track of projects virtually, set a favorites button on your web browser for craft projects. I keep a virtual notebook of all the things that I would like to try and we try to do one project each week from this notebook and document it for remembering.
  • Composition books are inexpensive and are a great way to keep your children entertained. Younger children can draw pictures to tell stories and older children can fill these with tales from their own imagination. These composition books can also be made into nature books and you can send your children out to explore what is in their own backyard. Reference books and field guides can offer additional assistance in finding, discovering, and drawing what they find in nature. This not only makes them more aware of what is around them, but it also can offer a wonderful educational experience for learning about leaves, birds, bugs, and plant types. Pair a composition notebook with binoculars and send them on an exploration trip for the day.
  • Don’t be afraid to take your crafting show on the road. Some of the more messy crafts are great for outdoors and can keep the mess contained outside. Younger children especially love doing things unexpected outdoors and it is much easier to hose them down if they get a little carried away with their painting.

Really the best way to teach your children about crafting is to be an example to them. When my kids see me working on something, they immediately want me to get out their own supplies so that they can be crafting alongside me. This is a special time for all of us and it is great to be able to share in our work together.

Crafty Resources

Crafty Recipes

Fun Sidewalk Paint

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 6 – 8 drops food coloring

Mix cornstarch and cold water together in a small bowl. Add food coloring and stir. Repeat the process to create different colors of paint. This paint can easily be washed away with water. You can use it to make hopscotch grids, cakewalks, even make believe roads and highways for toy cars.

Pudding Paint

  • 1 large package of instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
  • 2 cups ice-cold water (less if you want to have more of a finger painting consistency)
  • Food coloring

Whisk water and instant pudding together in a bowl for two minutes. Refrigerate for five minutes. Divide into several small bowls or muffin tins. Add 5-7 drops of food coloring to each bowl or tin and mix. You can paint with a brush or use them as finger paints.

Edible Play Dough

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup dry milk
  • 1/2 Tbs. honey
  • Plastic zip bag

Pour peanut butter, dry milk, and honey into a plastic zip bag. Close bag and knead until mixture turns to dough. Do not reuse or store this dough. You can use raisins and assorted candies to add eyes, mouths, and other features to your edible creations.

Fruity Play Dough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 package Kool-Aid (any flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
    (the original recipe called for one cup of boiling water, but I found it made the dough too loose- aim for 3/4 cup and add more if needed)

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl then oil, then pour boiling water in and mix thoroughly. Wrap in cellophane or air tight container and store in fridge. The play dough should last a few months.

Invisible Ink

  • 2 Tbs. pure lemon juice
  • Cotton swab

Pour lemon juice into a small glass or plastic dish. Soak one end of the cotton swab to write a secret message or draw a picture on a sheet of paper. When you are ready to view your secret message have an adult hold the sheet of paper near a light bulb. The heat will slowly turn the lemon juice dark brown and reveal a hidden message.

Tornado in a Bottle

  • 1- 16 oz clear plastic soda bottle with a cap (the rounder the bottom the better the tornado)
  • 2 drops clear liquid dish detergent
  • 1 tsp. glitter

Fill the bottle with cold water. Add liquid dish detergent and glitter to the bottle. Screw on the cap tightly. Holding the bottle by the neck, turn it upside down. Quickly rotate your wrist several times in a clockwise motion. When you stop rotating, a min-tornado will form inside the bottle. Using permanent markers, you can draw a picture of a city or landscape around the bottom of the plastic bottle. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to the bottle to create a sky effect.

Published August 24, 2008 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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