Indoor Crafts

Snowy Days and Indoor Crafts

As the weather turns, it’s difficult to keep our kids active and inspired. Rather than turning to the same old toys and television, I urge parents to try some indoor crafts! And, there’s no better time like the present because there’s another fun holiday around the corner, and terribly low temperatures leading up to it. Knowing this, my sons and I have been working extra hard on decorating our home with DIY Valentine’s Day crafts!

Craft Making – The Importance of it

Craft making is inspirational!  Not only does it help young ones develop fine-motor skills and give them that boost of self-esteem (sometimes I wonder if my kids really need it), it also helps promote innovation, creativity, problem-solving skills, and socializing! Recently, researches in this area have found a connection between the skills developed during arts and crafts time and success in later years of life. They concurred that toddlers and preschoolers develop what are called visual-processing skills when they create a crafty project. Visual-processing skills incorporate our ability to recognize patterns, find sequences in patterns, and identify spacial patterns. In simpler terms, if you have a blue triangle and you’re trying to fit it into a yellow, circular hole, you will be able to recognize that it doesn’t fit before even trying it. These same skills are what mathematics, geometry, and reading rely heavily on. Researchers also found that children who have regular arts and crafts time also have greater memory skills, muscle memory, and planned behavior. These skills are indicative of professional leadership skills (click here).

Woohoo! Now let’s bust out some romantic crafts! I’ve divvied up these crafty ideas based on age for ease of perusing.

Newborn to One Year Old

A Salty Keepsake

You can never have too many cutie-pie feet or handprint décor in your house, so try making this one with your squirmy baby (it’s easier to use and cleaner than paint!). You will need:

1 cup of salt

2 cups of flour

¾ cups of water

5 drops of red food colouring (more if you desire red rather than pink)

1 large mixing bowl

1 mixing spoon

1 rolling pin

1 well-rested baby

Stir the salt and flour together in the mixing bowl. Gradually mix in the water until you have a nice, doughy consistency. Knead in the red food colouring until you have the desired colour and then roll the dough as if you were about to cut it into cookies (but don’t because they won’t taste very good!).

Using your baby’s feet or hands, make a print in the dough. I liked making heart shapes with their feet and then cutting a heart shape around it. I also made a small hole at the top so that I could lace a string through to hang it up.

After your unique baby creations are created, place the salty memories in the oven at 180 °C for about 10 minutes (times vary depending on the size and thickness of creations).

Note: You can also paint and varnish your creations if you desire to make your own homemade toys!

One to Two Years Old

A Sticky Situation

If you’re like me and allow your children as much free rein as possible with arts and crafts (within reason), you’ll want to have a go at this one! What you’ll need:

1 piece of paper (I prefer cardstock as it will allow for a lot of glue without getting soggy)

1 bottle of glue or glue stick

Approximately 30 pieces of coloured paper, roughly 1 x 1 inches in size

1 black marker

1 adventurous toddler

I drew a large heart on a white piece of cardstock with a black marker, added a bunch of glue to the inside of the perimeter, and provided my son with little pieces of coloured paper so that he could decorate as he saw fit. It worked very well – the third time.

Haha! I mean to say he had fun each and every time he tried it but he mastered new skills along the way, making his third attempt worthy of carefully scraping it off the highchair to hang on the wall.

Two to Three Years Old

Fashionista in the Making

Kids at this age love to play dress-up, so why not fashion your own trinkets? If you can get your hands on these, or similar items, try making this DIY Valentine’s Day crown and necklace:

6 pieces of pipe cleaner, red or pink

1 piece of white cardstock (lengthy enough to fit the circumference of your child’s head)

20 to 30 foam or paper hearts

1 pair of children’s scissors (or a holepunch, if available)

1 pencil

Tape or stapler

1 apprentice jeweler

First, measure your child’s head using the cardstock paper. Mark it with a pencil (don’t cut it while it’s near your child for risk of injury or a nasty haircut). Cut and tape it. Let your child decorate it with the hearts and pipe cleaner.

I liked showing my son how to wrap pipe cleaner around his finger to give it a spirally appearance. We then put hearts on them and taped them to either side of the crown to appear as ears.

For the necklace, holepunch or cut holes in the centres of the remaining hearts and let your child poke the other pipe cleaner pieces through them. Twist the pipe cleaner ends together so that they will make a lovely, romantic necklace with heart shaped jewels!

Three to Four Years Old

A Basket of Roses

My son is obsessed with bringing me flowers ever since he was allowed to pick them in my Mom’s garden this summer (she told me he was more accomplished at demolishing her flowers than the neighbourhood rabbits). This year, we made some DIY roses in a freshly decorated Chinese noodle box. They smell excellent.

What you need:

1 Chinese noodle box (or tissue box cut in half width-wise)

18 to 20 coloured mini (or regular sized) cupcake liners

6 green pipe cleaners

1 small floracraft (or styrofoam)

2 sheets of red tissue paper

Tape

1 amateur florist

Help your child turn the cupcake liners inside out so that the coloured portion will end up being the inside of the roses. Stack three liners on top of one another and poke the pipe cleaner through the centre of the stack, so that it is just poking through, and twist slightly so that is remains in place. Do this for all six of the flowers.

For the basket, tape the tissue paper to the outside to give it a beautiful glow. Place the floracraft inside the box and cover with more tissue paper. Then poke your pipe cleaner flowers into the floracraft. Viola! A beautiful centerpiece your guests are sure to comment on!

Four to Five Years Old

A Watercolour World of Hearts

For the most hardened of young artists, there is black paint and watercolours. This project takes a little prep work from parents as it requires a day for the glue to dry before your young creator can get to work, but it’s well worth the wait! What you need:

1 piece of cardstock paper

1 bottle of white glue

1 tablespoon of black paint

1 tray of watercolours

1 glass of water

1 paintbrush

1 pair of child’s scissors

1 aspiring artist

Empty one half of the glue out of the bottle and add the black paint (the bottle should contain ½ white glue, ¼ black paint, and ¼ air), and mix well. Next, draw hearts onto the cardstock paper and let dry for one day. My son seemed to like when the hearts had many sections in them as it gave him more areas to paint with different colours.

After the black glue is dry, let your child watercolour away! The watercolour paint doesn’t take nearly as long to dry (about half an hour). After we cut ours out, we taped them to his bedroom window so that it had a stained glass effect!

Shopping List and Other Indoor Craft Ideas

I do hope you and your family have fun trying these artsy ideas! All of the materials were available at the dollar store, except for the floracraft, which was obtained from Michaels, and the Chinese noodle box, which was left over from lunch. They were all relatively well priced (even the lunch!) and many colour options were available.

If you’d like more DIY craft ideas, I strongly suggest attending KARA’s Creative Play & More program, which is a free, drop-in program. KARA staff will surely astound you with the many crafty ideas they possess. Please come join us for an artsy day this week!

Kids and Colours

A friend of mine recently had his first baby and, in his new excitement of being a father, he introduced me to a phenomenon between children and colours. Until now, I hadn’t heard of the different effects colours had on people and was intrigued when he told me that colours could affect children’s moods, even enough to make them go to sleep on time or eat their broccoli. The book he introduced me to is called Start Smart: Building Brain Power in the Early Years by Pam Schiller.

To sum up, Schiller describes how colours can enhance learning and influence mood; she gives her insight as to which colours can do what to children and how colours can be used in a classroom or at home to build brain power (not to mention help parents out too).

A chart from the book indicates the following colours can have these effects:

Red The colour red can create alertness and excitement. It usually encourages creativity and appetite. This colour can also be disturbing to anxious individuals.

Blue Blue can create a sense of well-being and lower a person’s temperature.

Sky blue is especially tranquilizing. Blue also has the effect of decreasing appetite.

Yellow This colour is the optimal colour for maintaining attention and encouraging creativity. It also creates a positive feeling.

Orange Orange can increase alertness.

Green Green creates a feeling of calmness.

Purple Purple also creates a feeling of calmness.

Brown The colour brown can increase the sense of security and relaxation. It also has the effect of reducing fatigue.

Off-white This colour can create positive feelings and help maintain attention.
Over the last couple of weeks, I decided to implement this new knowledge in the lives of my kids, but before busting out the paint to colour the walls of my boys’ room, I thought it would be best to perform some harmless experiments to see if Schiller’s findings applied to our lives as well.

Red – I started putting red napkins (in lieu of red placemats) under my children’s’ plates during meals. My kids did eat slightly more food without the continual prompting but my youngest son, Polar Bear, did proceed to tear the napkin into shreds and attempt to eat it. I also introduced a red ball into the playroom. Both children love this new ball and it’s the first one they go for when playing catch. It may be that it is the “new toy” and the other balls just don’t cut it anymore.

Blue – This experiment was exercised by taking my boys for walks outside. It is true that we take walks outdoors all the time but this time I monitored the children on clear, sky blue days. They did seem to be calmer during this activity. It could also have been the fresh air, but my children seemed to argue a lot less when they were outside, often sharing toys and throwing less tantrums.

Yellow and off-white – Schiller’s book portrays these colours as being the best for a school classroom as they have properties to increase and maintain attention. I used yellow during book time to help my children keep their little hands and bodies still while I read to them. I chose only books with yellow jackets which seemed to do the trick (although they may have just been used to the routine). I also broke out an off-white colouring book and provided only yellow crayons to my older son, Grizzly Bear. He did spend a little longer working on his colouring than normal which was a breakthrough since he doesn’t enjoy art and crafts that much.

Orange – Like red, this colour did bring a new level of alertness to my children’s lives when I brought home pumpkins this Halloween. They both became enthralled by the activity and had no issues zeroing in on the activity, diving into the fun and destroying the kitchen. Admittedly this could have something to do with children loving messy play, but it may have been the colour orange too.

Green and purple – Admittedly I did not use the colour purple for any experiments, but I did use green. I set up a green coloured canopy in their room and laid them under it for nap and bedtimes. They seemed to enjoy the canopy and stare at it. My Grizzly Bear continually asked what it was and why it was there, but he did fall asleep faster each night the week that it was up. I also put on nature documentaries for my children (this wasn’t an experiment, just something I do regularly). I did take note that my kids (and I) became calmer and happier when rainforests and oceans dominated the scenery.

Brown – I did not introduce this colour to my children as an experiment but I did take a look at my own life and the influence brown has on it. I noticed that many houses on my street are brown and wondered if the colour choice by the developer was intentional. I also noticed that my parents’ vehicle is brown, and I do feel quite safe when in it, although that may be because my Dad is often the driver.

These little activities and experiments were fun to complete and entertaining for my children. While I still don’t know if I’m a believer, I did notice a few times that colours really did have different effects on my children (although hunger and exhaustion did trump most effects). All in all, perhaps I will take the plunge to paint the walls green with a tranquilizing blue ceiling!