Getting started with craft for kids – An interview with Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art
I love the idea of getting creative and making things with the boys but I really was at the back of the queue when they were handing out artistic flair and inspiration. Luckily Maggy from Red Ted Art is an expert at crafting with kids (so much so that she has just had a beautiful book called Red Ted Art: Cute and Easy Crafts for Kids published on the subject) and she has kindly agreed to answer a few questions to point me in the right direction.
How did you get started in crafting?
I have always enjoyed crafting – I have fond childhood memories of crafting with our “adoptive grandmother”, Celia, who taught me how to knit and sew. She nurtured all things crafty in me and I have loved it ever since. After school – working life began and there was less time for crafts, though I used to still enjoy making my friend’s birthday cards and the odd presents. Then my kids were born and I had a whole new focus and time – it has been great coming back to crafts with MY kids.
Why do you think it is so important to get kids and their parents making things together?
I think it is very important to do things together, full stop. It doesn’t really have to be crafts, but something that is special to you and them. I think children thrive on quality time with their parents and it is what childhood memories are made of. So it is more about finding “your thing” with them. I have a friend that goes ice skating with her daughter and another that loves music.
The benefits of crafts however, is that it is something that most children do enjoy – so long as you find the level that they enjoy it at. Mine love it ALL – but they are used to crafting. Kids learn so much through crafting – not just how to make something – but making decisions, how materials work together, how to handle tools.
Also crafts are wonderful to combine with annual family traditions – in particularly Christmas and Easter. It is a way to build the excitement to the big festive days and make the celebrations not just about gifts and chocolate but about time together.
If you do just one thing at Easter, I would say decorate some eggs and make an Easter Tree and if you do just one thing at Christmas, I would say make some Christmas tree ornaments. They are great keepsakes and little gifts.
What is the idea behind the new book?
I think the main ideas behind the book are to make the most of what you have already. Many of the crafts have recycled/ found elements – i.e. crafting with loo rolls, old cloths/ fabric or sticks and stones. Creating value out of things that are deemed to have no value.
I am also keen for people to be INSPIRED by the book. Not to focus on copying things exactly but to be inspired by the crafts and make them your own. This is one reason why we consciously did NOT include templates, we didn’t want to people to obsess about getting it “right” – there is NO right way. There is just YOUR way. Be creative. What other ideas does it spark off?!
In terms of ages – it spans a wide age group – I would say 3years – 14 years (depending on the child). With younger children it is all about crafting WITH them and maybe making somethings as toys for them! Older children should manage all the crafts by themselves. I imagine people sitting down as a family and crafting together.
I’m definitely ‘craftily challenged’. Is there any hope for me?
Of course there is hope! Where there is a will there is a way!!! That aside, I find that the more you do, the easier it gets. People always think they can’t do things and yes, maybe the first 2-3 times feels a little “awkward”, but the more you do, the better you get it and the more you enjoy it/ have ideas of your own. I would let your children guide you.. and just be there to help them with some cutting and sticking!
It seems like there are so many bits of kit and supplies available but what do I really need to start with?
I am a bit of a hoarder and have all sorts things in my crafty stash. But in essence I would say buy: good PVA glue, googly eyes, paint. And then recycle things like tissue paper, loo rolls, card, paper, old fabrics. And with time, you can “collect” embellishments such as craft foam and feathers and glitter.
A lot of parents are put off crafting by the mess it might cause. How do you protect your house from paint and glitter disasters?
Ahem, good question. As we are reasonably used to crafting the kids “know” not to run around with paint covered hands etc. But the main tip is to – clear a good area for you to work on. Put down a plastic sheet of sorts and explain to the children that if they want to craft, they have to stick to the craft area. If they don’t craft session over…. Also, be ready to have somewhere to put things to dry.
Remember though – crafting does NOT have to be messy. Pick crafts that suit you and your family. And if mess is too stressful, then don’t do it! Stick to sewing projects or cutting and tape projects etc.
My boys are 2 and 4 so have really different levels of ability. Can you suggest a project that might suit them both?
That is indeed a challenging age. I started crafting with my son when he was two and my daughter just grew up with it. You have to give your younger child a chance to catch up, dexterity wise. My approach in the early days would be do craft with them separately (i.e. when one was napping and then the other at nursery) or I would do the same craft but would let the little one sit there and basically get covered in paint, whilst I focussed on the older one. I think she benefit hugely from this “creative freedom”. Another thing to do is to give them different activities – the younger one gets playdough, the older a project. Or finally, crafts with contact can be fabulous for younger kids – we particularly enjoyed our Four Seasons project.
Also a lot of the cardboard tube crafts could be suitable – as you could paint them all together and then finish them later with the older child.
I’ve also had some questions from a few fellow bloggers to put to Maggy.
Becky from Baby Budgeting asked – Where is the best place to get inexpensive craft supplies?
I do recycle A LOT in the home. For supplies I go online (amazon and ebay – but that can often go wrong, as I can’t see properly what I am buying), pound shops, Hobbycraft and also my local independent craft/ art shop – they tend to have the best quality products. Cheap doesn’t always mean good (especially when it comes to PVA glue!). Spend your money on quality products, but use them sparingly. Collect things that are deemed waste or nature craft materials and use those liberally.
Emma from Science Sparks asked – Do you ever use the opportunity to turn a crafting session into a learning opportunity? Such as counting as you go or talking about the properties of whatever materials you are using?
Yes, some crafts have a learning element linked, for example we made “five little ducks” out of stones – the kids can count with them, as well as sorted them by size. Another time we made “Monster cards” with triangles and square shapes, a chance to talk colours and shapes with the children. I always try and sneak in counting etc where I can (“How many colours have you got on your plate” etc).
Annie from Mammasaursus asked – What tips can you give for collecting natural items when you are out and about? Are you always on the lookout for items that could be upcycled and gain inspiration from or do you tend to look for items as you need them? Have you ever had to explain to a stranger why you are squirreling away sticks and pinecones into your bag?!
We made nature bags especially for this – great upcycle AND sewing project – resulting in a bag for collecting your bits and pieces. Inevitably we forget them at home! But still.. when in the park and we spot a nice leaf or stick we will collect it. Other times we go especially as I am after some stones for a craft I have in mind. So I guess to answer Annie’s question – it is a bit of both! Erring a little more to collecting things as and when we see them.
And so far.. I haven’t been challenged by strangers. I guess as I am with kids, they know that kids like to collect?
Maggy Woodley is a mum of two – Red Ted aged 5yrs and Pip Squeak aged 3yrs and blogs over at Red Ted Art where they regularly get crafty! She also writes at Life at The Zoo (usually about Cooking with Kids, but other parenting bits and pieces) and also on Theatre, Books and Movies. You can find her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.