hand blue with paint

The Truth About Crafting with Kids

I think many of us have visions of how it will be to do crafts with our kids. (Cue the dream sequence music…) We’ll all sit around the table working on our creations. Each of us will have a smile on our faces as we quietly paint, glue, and create.

CRASH- Nope!- toss THAT dream out the window.

Instead, we finally manage to clear off the table and drag our supplies out. The oldest child moans about how boring your idea is, the baby starts eating marker tips, and while you’ve been trying to get past these beginning hurdles and JUST GET STARTED, the four-year-old has been gluing foam bits to the table. (That’s why he was so quiet!!)

OK, the truth is that sometimes it’s really hard to have fun while crafting with kids. But it can be done!

Practice Makes Perfect When Creating Together

The first tip I want to share is this: crafting with kids takes practice. Just like any other routine in your family life, crafting together gets easier if you do it more often. If you go into a project with the attitude that you’re just practicing this and that the goal is to learn how to enjoy creating together with your children, you may be able to relax a bit more as you hit crafting obstacles.

Secondly, did you know that what you call your craft project can make a huge difference in whether your kids get excited to create with you? Here’s the deal – my kids don’t like to do “crafts”. If I present an activity by asking if they want to do a craft, I’ll get a resounding NO. 

If I ask in a different way, they’ll be thrilled to do a project, play a drawing game or make creations.

When I asked my 7-year-old some questions about this, here was our conversation:

Do you like doing crafts?
How about making inventions?
Do you like doing art?
Do you like doing projects?
   What sort of projects?
Creative projects.
   Umm, sort of, yes.
Do you like to draw?
Do you like playing drawing games?

Each of these descriptions frames the activity in a slightly different way. Of course, each kid is different, but if you pay attention, you’ll start to notice which language appeals most to your child, and then when you introduce an activity, you can tailor your words to suit their interests. It can certainly be a lot easier to enjoy creating with kids when you don’t have to get over that initial wall of rejection!

One of my crafting secrets is having a few simple crafts that we repeat often.  I can think of these off the top of my head, and even if we try something new, I can fall back on these if the new project is a miserable failure.  Some of our easy crafting favorites are:

  • Painting *anything* is usually a hit, even if there is no end product in mind.
  • Drawing with crayons and using watercolors over the crayon lines
  • Decorating paper airplanes
  • Making cards with stickers, markers, and glitter glue

And finally, Keep a few simple crafts up your sleeve supplies ready, and it becomes easier to craft often. Craft often with your kids, and you’ll begin to know what’s fun for your family and what will probably flop.  As you get to know better what your family will enjoy, you’ll have an easier time choosing what new crafts to explore together.

About the Author

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Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.