About an arts-based education
In 2018, Jack Ma, the co-founder and then-executive chair of Alibaba Group gave a speech about the importance of education in the age of artificial intelligence. He stated that in order to build a future where our children can thrive, knowledge-based education should evolve, and instead, we have to teach things that machines can never catch up with. He defined these as Values, Believing, Independent-thinking, Teamwork, and Care For Others.
These are known as a person’s soft parts that make all the difference in their way of life. Allowing your children to understand the value of sports, music, painting, and those that are not teachable through mere knowledge is the key to opening up their minds to endless possibilities. So, how do you teach these things? Through an art-based education – and that’s what we will discuss in the sections below. Our co-founder Ardak Kassenova supports this concept and practices this with her own daughters, as well as with the children she teaches at her after-school art club.
The role of influence
Children are like sponges. They absorb everything they are taught rapidly, and their development highly depends on what they are exposed to. This is where an arts-based education through craft ideas for children comes into play. When taught to appreciate from a bigger perspective at a young age, they develop physical and social skills that extend far beyond what they can learn in the classroom.
Creativity, mindfulness, and care for the environment are some traits that engaging with craft ideas for children can help develop. Moreover, children tend to imitate the actions of their parents so this is a good chance to set an example and allow the experience to build a great bond between you. A notable example of this parent-child influence is Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart, one of the most influential composers of the classical era. His father was an experienced violinist who exposed Mozart to the world of music, not knowing that he was training a future master.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with his sister Maria Anna and father Leopold, on the wall a portrait of his dead mother Anna Maria, Johann Nepomuk della Croce, 1780
Modern examples include Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, who was born and raised in Silicon Valley. His father, Paul Jobs, was a mechanic who repaired cars. Paul built a workbench in his garage for his son in order to pass along his love of mechanics. According to Steve, he admired his father’s craftsmanship because “he knew how to build anything. If we needed a cabinet, he would build it. When he built our fence, he gave me a hammer so I could work with him. I wasn’t that into fixing cars, but I was eager to hang out with my dad”. Today, we all know how the legacy of Steve Jobs and how he revolutionised the world as we know it. Given its timeless and universal benefits, craft ideas for children create an opportunity for parents and children to gear up for some back-to-school activities!
Steve Jobs as a child with his adoptive father, Paul Jobs
Innovation Through Creation
Have you ever heard of the term ‘renaissance man’? It refers to an outstandingly versatile, well-rounded person who is usually clever, adept at many different things, and can withstand almost any situation. The term hails from the Renaissance period which lasted from 1400 to about 1600. Think of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo for the classical era, and Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Elon Musk in modern times. They are all polymaths whose expertise are a wide range of fields.
When they build the habit of constantly dabbling with craft ideas for children, it changes their way of thinking. Neuroscience states that when humans (especially children who are still very receptive to learning) are exposed to new knowledge, fresh brain connections are created. This encourages an innovative mind, one of the biggest traits of successful entrepreneurs. It also prepares them for practicality, building essential life skills – from the smaller and practical tasks like knitting, changing a button, cooking, etc. up to the bigger ones like developing products and ideas.
As a result, children who are exposed to creativity at a young age have the ability to do reverse engineering, or analysing a situation from the root up. This makes them superb at problem-solving skills, which later on translates to revolutionary thinking in adulthood.
In the same way, craft ideas for children is a quick way for them to receive self-satisfaction. As children create something that is truly theirs and see the fruits of their labour right away, it encourages them to create more, providing healthy instant gratification. The experience is intuitive and personal, and working with craft ideas for children using their hands can be a good calming activity; a break from the fast-paced life that we are living in right now.
A Care for the Environment
Children who are taught to reuse, recycle, and up-cycle materials understand that things need not always be disposable and consequently, they become aware of the true value of material things. It is important to explain to them the reason behind these activities while discussing environmental themes, especially in these days when children are strongly fighting the effects of climate change. This will give them a sense of responsibility in the environment.
“GET ONBOARD: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink.” – A temporary exhibition presented by PriestmanGoode at the Design Musem, London. The project aims to raise awareness of how much waste is generated through air travel. On display until 9 February 2020
How can I implement craft ideas for children on my own?
As parents, it is up to us what kind of influence we want to show our kids; however, it is easy to get lost in our schedules, especially when juggling a career, family life, and other activities on the side. Before you begin practising different craft ideas for children, here are a few friendly reminders from us!
First, encourage all kinds of craft. Creativity is applied to everything in life, so it is important that we listen to the child’s interests before starting any activity. If they want to learn about things other than what you offer them, then encourage them to do so and immerse yourself in the activity, too. Instead of spending the whole afternoon with your children, commit to a time when you can completely focus and spend genuine quality time with them. In the long run, it’s moments like these that your child will remember.
Of course, have a positive attitude! Children can sense how their parents feel especially when engaging in something together, so don’t start any craft ideas for children activity if you are not in a good mood; otherwise, you’d risk putting their spirits down. Take the time that you need for yourself, and get back to your schedule when you feel good and energised. Be ready to send them positive vibes! Taking care of our children and seeing them develop can also be therapeutic for parents.
Ardak’s daughter (@ardak_zenart) Tamara, crafting and painting nature sceneries and animals
When it comes to playing, is important not to restrict them to a single task. Random games and activities can be really fun for them, and can contribute to an overall sense of freedom to imagine and create as they please.
To ensure that you have proper time for these things, make a list of craft ideas for children good for a week, or even a month! You can begin with a single activity every day for a week, then see how it goes from there. This saves precious time and energy, as you can prepare your craft ideas for children in advance. Another idea is to organise play-dates at your house, where they are free to have a creative time with their classmates and neighbours. Soon enough, these craft ideas for children will create a bond with other parents too. It’s a win-win situation!
Most importantly, attend to your personal well-being. You are your child’s anchor, so take care of yourself first and foremost. Have some free time even once a week, get lunch with your best friend, grab your favourite tea from the nearby shop, go to your favourite museum. Arrange new activities at home, and improve your internal connections. Doing what makes you happy is taking care of your mind, spirit, and body.
What activities can I do with my children?
The following craft ideas for children are focused on recycling and upcycling materials that can be gathered from nature. We wish to impart mindfulness for both adults and children, and it is important to actively incorporate it in one way or another in our everyday activities. These examples are taken from the book 365 things to make and do by Usborne. Ready your supplies, and get ready to do these simple yet fun craft ideas for children!
3-step Leaf Printing
Step 1: Pour some thick paint onto an old plate. Add a little water and mix together with a brush, to achieve a little runny consistency.
Step 2: Lay any random leaf (collect from your regular visits to the park) on an old newspaper, with the veins on the underside facing up. Brush a thick layer of paint onto the leaf until it is completely covered.
Step 3: Press the side of the leaf with paint onto a piece of paper to make the print. Brush the leaf again with paint and do another print. Make as many prints as you want, and then leave them to air dry.
Leaf-printing with green paint
Painting the countryside
Step 1: Use a pencil to draw the outline of the whole painting. Draw a shape for a hill inside the main shape and paint it green. Paint the rest in yellow.
Step 2: When the paint is dry, paint several fields with thick paint. While they are still wet, use the end of a paintbrush to scratch swirls or lines into the paint.
Step 3: Wait until the paint is dry again, then draw some buildings around the edge of the hill. Use a thin paintbrush to fill them in.
Step 4: Paint over the windows and roofs again, then scratch into the wet paint with the end of a thin paintbrush. Add doors and small windows, too.
Step 5: Add red-spotted flowers. Create the stems, then fingerpaint around with pink paint to make a big circle. When the paint is dry, print spots with your little finger. Note: Paint long stems with four stalks at the top!
Countryside painting in the style of Grandma Moses, by a child age 12 from Elementary Workshop Montessori School, Art For Small Hands, 2013
Step 1: Draw a spider’s body on a piece of corrugated cardboard. Cut it out and paint it. While the paint is drying, cut four pieces from pipe cleaners to serve a leg.
Step 2: Push one of the pipe cleaners through a zigzag gap in between the layers of the cardboard, near to the head. Add the other pipe cleaners, then bend them.
Step 3: For the eyes, spread glue on pieces of tissue paper. Scrunch them into balls, then roll them between your hands. Glue them on and paint a black dot on each one.
Step 4: You can create a variety of designs out of this! Try a striped bug, one with wings, a segmented body, and a wiggly millipede, too!
Fuzzy friendly bugs and spiders
Painting dog portraits
Step 1: Dip a finger into a paint colour of your choice and make lots of prints for the dog’s figure. Add important details such as eyes, nose, and ears.
Step 2: When the paint is dry, paint the dog’s collar and tag. Using a small detail brush, write the dog’s name on its tag.
Easy cat: Use a pencil to draw a cat’s head, ears and body, and fill it in. Then, add legs and a tail. Draw a stripe down its head. Use a thin pen to add and a face and claws. Add more stripes on its body.
Collage cat: Make a collage of a cat using scraps of paper. Cut out a body, then a head. Add legs, ears, and a tail. Draw the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Pen cat: Draw the outline of a cat with a felt tip pen. Add stripes. Then, dip a thin paintbrush into clean water and then brush it inside the cat so the ink bleeds.
Easy and fun cat collage ideas
Potato Printed Park
Tree: Brush watery yellow paint all over a piece of white paper. When the paint is dry, paint a shape for a patch of grass, then leave the paint to dry. Cut a large potato in half. Then, spread green paint on a piece of kitchen sponge cloth. Press the potato into the paint and print it on your picture.
Nest: Print a nest with a quarter of a small potato.
Little bird: Fingerprint a body and head. Use cardboard to print the wings, legs, a tail and a beak.
Bush: Print a bush with a quarter of a potato. Fingerprint circles on top.
Fruit trees: Paint apples, oranges, and lemons onto printed trees.
Potato Stamping Fall Leaves
Newspaper Collage Fish
Step 1: For background, draw a line of waves across the top of a large piece of thin, blue paper.
Step 2: Scrunch the paper lightly into a ball. Then, smooth it out and glue it onto another piece of blue paper.
Step 3: For a group of fish, cut a strip of paper from an old newspaper. Fold it in half several times and draw a fish on it.
Step 4: Cut out the fish through all the layers of the newspaper. Glue them onto the background, all facing the same way.
Step 5: Still using the newspaper, cut out a boat, a fisherman, and a shark. Paint white teeth and draw black gills on its side.
Newspaper Fish Collage, pp. 102-103 of 365 Things to Make and Do by Usborne
A Journey To Mindful Creativity
The benefits of creativity are far more than what we can imagine. Each child is different, and their limits know no bounds. As adults, it is our duty to help our children build a future that’s hopeful, sustainable, and maybe much better than our world today. Art is a way of doing that. With these craft ideas for children, we wish you a great journey to mindful creativity with your kids! Happy crafting!
Did you like this article? Which part resonated with your personal experience the most? Let us know in the comments below, and we would love to discuss with you!
— MEET THE AUTHOR —
Ardak Kassenova is mother, artist and ZenART Supplies co-founder. “My heart and soul were always with Art, and since my childhood as long as I remember myself, I was dreaming to be an artist. I was painting after work, when I had time, and teaching myself through the books, videos, visiting art galleries and museums. I’ve been very curious about different techniques and styles, and therefore accumulated knowledge and experience on a variety of mediums”.
After 20 years of a successful corporate career and with becoming a mother to two wonderful girls, she decided that it’s time to make drastic changes and link her life with Art. She started to paint again and decided to create her own art supplies brand that would help artists to fulfil their creative dreams and achieve their best results since the beginning using high-quality art materials without wasting their precious time and money. Say hello to @ardak_zenart on Instagram!