My kids love crafting! I love that they learn so much while crafting. With nine kids ranging from 0-17, I’ve learned that multi-age crafting is different.
I can’t just go to Pinterest, pick a beautiful project, and get the kids started.
They’re abilities and interests are just too varied.
Some of them would find success on the project I picked, while others would be miserable. I’d end up tempted to do the project for them.
And that’s not the point of art.
Here are the top tips I use to ensure multi-age crafting success.
We use them frequently–several times a week at least. Art is so much fun when done like this!
1. Lower Your Expectations
There. I said it.
You cannot expect all of your kids to complete Pinterest worthy crafts every single time they craft.
If you’re doing art to show off how crafty your kids are, you’re probably doing it for the wrong reason.
Instead, focus on the process. What they make isn’t nearly as important as the skills they learn while crafting.
Your children will be working on essential soft skills such as:
- Building imagination
- Working collaboratively or independently
- Using supplies appropriately
- Solving problems
In addition to practicing plenty of fine and gross motor skills.
With all that going on, it’s okay if you don’t feel like framing and displaying every single thing they make.
2. Let Your Kids Be Creative
I hardly ever have a plan in place for craft time. I simply pull out the supplies, and let the kids do what they do best–create.
I could never come up with some of the amazing ideas they have. I don’t even pretend to try.
During a recent craft session, here’s what the kids did:
- Drew a picture of some characters from a book she’s writing
- Created a Mario and Luigi craft by drawing shapes, cutting them out, and gluing them together.
- Made a paper lantern and inserted lights from a broken Christmas light necklace into it to make it glow.
- Created a farm set, with a paper barn and random animals to play with in the barn
- Turned a paper plate into a bird feeder
- Scribbled on a piece of paper and his feet
- Played with a drawing app on the iPad a few minutes
- Made an origami shape.
So much creativity!
3. Ensure Simple Rules Are Followed
Multi-age crafting should be enjoyable, not stressful. I don’t want to worry that my 2 year old is going to grab a pair of sharp scissors and poke his eyes out.
So, we have five simple rules in our house. They keep us safe, and make clean-up simple!
- Sharp Objects are for Responsible Parties Only–Keep Tabs on Them and Put Them Away Immediately When Finished
- Pick Up Everything You Drop (we have a child with Pica in the house who loves to eat crayons…)
- Put Your Lids Back on Your Markers
- Stay in the Crafting Area (usually the dining room)
- When You’re Done, Clean Up Your Supplies
My four-year-old follows all these rules–they aren’t that complicated. I’ve found my kids learn through example. The older ones definitely help make sure the youngers follow the crafting rules.
Otherwise, we keep the supplies up for a week.
My rules might not be what your kids need. I encourage you to create your own simple craft rules. Teach them to your kids gently, and ensure you have a consequence for when the rules get broken.
4. Don’t Overwhelm Your Kids with Supplies
I don’t bring out every single craft supply in the house each time we create. Otherwise, I’d overwhelm the kids with options. Instead, I keep it simple.
I bring out crayons and a variety of papers. If the older kids want a specific supply (scissors, glue, yarn, etc.) for a project, they can get it. But, they’re responsible for ensuring it gets taken care of and cleaned up when they’re done.
5. Let Your Kids Be Done When They’re Done
We usually put a movie on during craft time. My youngest kids color for a bit, then go watch the movie. They’re in the same room, but don’t have to craft for as long as the older kids.
Everyone has a different attention span, and having a second option available keeps whining and fighting to a minimum.
6. Leave Time for Sharing
We end each crafting session with a quick share session. Everyone shows off what they created. It’s great public speaking practice, and teaches the kids to have pride in their work.
It also teaches the younger kids to actually create something before they stop and go watch a movie. That way they have something to share!