Arts and crafts encourage creativity and imagination. We all know it’s great for our kids to take part in arts and crafts activities and to be creative, but it can feel like a lot of effort to set up all the art supplies or organize a fun craft only to have it result in a huge mess and no guarantee that it will provide more than a few minutes of quiet before your child decides to move on to something else. We’ve put together some info on a few of the reasons why it is great to expose your child to arts and crafts, as well as a few ways to make it feel much easier.
Some of the ways that arts and crafts aid in children’s development are best seen in the strengthening of fine motor skills. Playing with playdough or clay strengthens hand and finger muscles. Holding and using tools of different sizes (paint brushes, pencils, crayons, stickers, beads, etc) targets development of important fine motor skills. Different motions, like the up and down while painting, strengthens arms as well. Any time a child is extending, squeezing, twisting, etc with their fingers, wrists and arms, it’s strengthening and exercising the muscles in the fingers, hands and arms, which means more strength, dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
Arts and crafts also serve as an outlet for children to express themselves, and learn how to communicate and problem solve. There’s a level of decision making and problem solving involved too, if they choose to consciously create a specific shape, design or project and have to figure out how to use materials to create it, and determine what to change if it’s not coming out the way they imagined it or if they change their mind on how it should look. The immediacy of visuals in arts and in crafts makes it easy for a child to see how or why things happen and how or why they can create a different outcome. Art is a fantastic way to discover the phenomenon of cause and effect.
The good news is that open ended art activities or craft projects can actually be best, when it comes to these development benefits. So no need to have a specific end goal in mind when setting out supplies or to feel like you need a Pinterest-worthy setup. Open ended art projects allow children to focus their energy on the process of making art instead of the result, which is where the cognitive development benefits come in. Set out a bunch of different materials and supplies, like paints, tissue paper, and even other household items like paper towels, cardboard scraps, etc and let your child do whatever they want with it.
Another great way to let your child explore arts and crafts is by taking it outside. Go outside and let your child collect materials to bring back and use in a project. Lay out a big piece of paper outside, along with glue, tape and rubber bands, and let them build or create with sticks, leaves, acorns or whatever else they found. No mess inside and no need to even have any real ‘art supplies’ at home besides the glue/tape.
To make it even easier, we offer arts and crafts every day at Galoop’s morning program, and also at our weekly Art & Open Play afternoon class on Fridays starting this fall, so that your child can experience all the benefits without you having to be responsible for making it happen at home! It doesn’t get easier than that.