In speaking to Betsy Wild, entrepreneur, mom, and founder of award-winning monthly kids creative craft kit company, We Craft Box, we had the opportunity to learn how parents, family, and friends can create powerful and enriching experiences for their children in the world of creativity. Here are Betsy’s thoughts and some easy-to-follow tips on creating your own memorable crafting experience with the “littles” in your life:
Recent studies indicate art education in public schools is on the upswing. After after a decade or more of budget cuts and “last on the list” educational prioritization, this is very encouraging.
Why is this such good news? Because creativity, and art expression, are so very important for our children. Not only are memories made and imagination encouraged, but these same studies also show children learn better across the board academically when exposed to the arts.
This type of early exposure led me to become an entrepreneur and launch a business so other children could be lucky enough to enjoy the artistic foundation I did.
Early Artistic Days
As a child, my sisters and I were always encouraged to color, paint, draw, and sculpt. My mother set the example. She always had art, crafts, and sewing projects spread out on the kitchen counters and tables in the family room, all in-progress and all subject to change.
There was never a shortage of materials: crayons, paints, bits and pieces of fabric, paper, buttons, and pencils. We spent hours, together and on our own, assembling our versions of whatever project she was creating.
My mother’s example was her mother, my grandma. My sisters and I encountered the same cacophony of art supplies in grandma’s cupboards and we did at home. Plus, grandma had a flower garden and we all became members of the Dirty Fingernails Club. No exceptions. After a weekend at grandmas, there was always an art show when our parents picked us up.
The hands-on experiences with my mother and grandma had a huge impact on me. How big? It was the foundation that encouraged me to launch my business, WeCraftBoxes, an arts and crafts subscription service for children.
Those early years also inspired my choice of education. I have my BFA from Art Center College of Designs, which gives me the background I need to ensure my craft boxes are educational as well as completely turn-key and packed with fun.
Why else are creative moments important for kids and why am I committed to ensuring children have the chance to have creative learning experiences? It’s simple:
Little creators become big creators, and we need more of those. LinkedIn’s research has shown the top skill most companies will need in the near future is creativity, with forecasts of automation predicting a shift away from repetitive tasks to focus on more thoughtful, creative work.
With the goal of creating big creators, I have a handful of tips for your littler littles. Depending on your crafter’s age, their ability to stay focused may be limited, so make it count!
Set the stage
Make it easy for everyone from the start. Give them a clean slate to be creative and messy. Clear off the counters. Move the stack of mail. Put a couple towels in easy reach. You might want to have a clean shirt nearby as well, if you’re getting into the mix.
Get right to the action
Since this is about engagement and experience, resist the urge to make something from scratch. Grab a box cake mix or pre-mixed cookie dough at the grocery store and focus on activities where the kids can see real progress. It keeps them involved and the results are ready to enjoy sooner.
Keep It Super Simple. To go along with the pre-mixed cookie dough, put some paper towels and wet wipes within arm’s reach for a quick wipe down. Bake the treats on parchment paper and decorate them on tin foil. When you’re finished, swoop up the debris in the foil and toss it in the trash.
Plan in bite-sized pieces and be prepared for a break in the action. Salt dough ornaments are a good example here. Start by making the dough and creating your ornaments. While things are baking and cooling, a trip to the nearby swingset or a walk around the block can help build some anticipation.
Record and Connect
Snap a few photos or record a short video. A FaceTime session with family or friends lets the little creators talk about their adventures. They will be thrilled to share their project and the video call may make grandma’s day!
I hope these tips help both the youngsters, and young-at-heart parents, enjoy the priceless experience of hands-on creativity.