Crafting in Absentia

I'm afraid I've built this up to be something more than it actually is. This idea is so simple, I'm sure it's been thought of before. Maybe it doesn't work and that's why I haven't found anything like it? It's an experiment anyway. Just an idea to try and get my girls crafting independently. Allowing them to spread their wings a little bit, now that they are moving ever closer to being 4 years old.

I had two little drawstring bags, which once held Lile and Sábha's first ever clothes. Impossibly tiny onesies, miniscule mittens and the littlest of cotton hats. They were all far too big of course, because my babies arrived early and Daddy had to run out and get some even tinier stuff the day after they were born, but I held onto the bags nonetheless. I knew I'd use them for something, someday and finally I have found a purpose for them.

Last week I appliquéd each girls' initial onto the bags. I added a star to the rear of each bag too. (But I forgot to photograph them so you'll just have to imagine what they look like for now. They're yellow and... um... star shaped.)

I decided I would use the bags, which aren't very large, to present small craft projects to the girls, with just enough 'bits and bobs' to do one project. Nothing too complex, nothing too prescribed, just some basic craft supplies and maybe a suggestion of how they could be used.

Below, I have put together ideas for 8 Crafty Surprises - simple,achievable projects, that are mostly open-ended, but also use minimum amounts of messy craft supplies, so that there shouldn't be too much cleanup involved for those who balk at the idea of letting children get creative by themselves. Most of the materials for these simple projects are cheap, easily sourced or found around the house. They can be adapted and changed or added to, depending on the age and ability of your child/ren. My girls are almost four years old, so these projects are designed for their level of concentration and ability, but also pose some challenges to develop their skills. (e.g. fabric cutting will be new to them)

1. Make a Peg-Doll

It is no secret that I am a fan of Peg Dolls, and my girls love to play with them too. I've put together a really simple 'kit' for them to make their own doll and I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
  • Old-fashioned Wooden Clothes pin/peg
  • Fabric and Yarn scraps
  • PVA glue (in a tiny re-fillable dispenser that came with a craft kit)
  • Child safe scissors (that actually cut)
  • Felt tips

I also included this note below, as a prompt, but the girls will have their own ideas about how their dolls should look, I'm sure! Visual prompts can be helpful to get little ones started, but they are not necessary as children will make whatever they feel like making anyway - they mightn't even make dolls!

2. Valentine's Card Kit
This is a super simple, open ended, non-messy craft. This could be presented on Valentine's day, or a few days before. You could add sequins, stencils, more felt-tips, coloured paper or anything else you like, but I've kept it simple with the following:
  • Card blank and Envelope
  • Heart Stickers
  • Pink, Red & Purple Felt tips
  • Doily
  • Scissors
  • Gluestick
You could just as easily put in supplies to make birthday cards, Father's Day cards, Mother's Day cards or for any other seasonal celebrations.

3. Sewing Kit
I haven't done much sewing with my girls, so this will be a new challenge for them. I will be very interested to see what they come up with! This simple kit contains:
  • Felt (in a favourite colour)
  • Some buttons
  • A child-safe Scissors (that can cut felt)
  • A threaded needle (this is a thick, blunt-ish embroidery needle & embroidery floss). They will obviously need help with tying knots & re-threading the needles, but at least there's no mess here either! Whoever is supervising your child should probably keep an eye on them with the needle too, but I'm all for letting children using real tools that actually work.

4. Beading Kit

This is a very simple kit, but this activity is good for developing fine motor skills and creating patterns. I'll probably have some lovely bracelets to come home to the day I present this! There are only two items needed for this non-messy kit:
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Beads

5. Loo-Roll Person
This craft is another simple non-messy one and uses items from around the home. This should be easily achievable for little ones on their own. More materials could be added for older children. This basic kit includes:
  • Loo Roll
  • Felt tips
  • Circle of paper/card for a face
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Scrap fabric/paper/or a piece from an old pair of tights to make clothes, like I have useed here.
  • Tissue paper (for hair?)
  • Gluestick

6. Chalk Kit
This is a very basic kit. It contains 
  • Chalk 
  • Black paper. 

You could use chalk pastels either and any colour paper you have. you could just as easily put any blank paper and crayons/felt-tips/whatever else you have to hand, in the bag.

7. Colouring Kit
This is an obvious and easy one. You'll find a million free printables online for colouring in. Sábha is crazy about Foxes at the moment and Lile is crazy about Cats, so I have printed out a few for each of them. They are both really interested in the human body, so I will be printing out different body parts/systems for them to colour too and adding their 'Body book' as a reference/inspiration for them. I find that printing one or two pictures I know they will like, will engage them more quickly. Often, by the time they have trawled through their colouring books to find a picture they actually want to colour, they won't have the concentration left to colour it! You will need:
  • Printable colouring pages of things your child likes
  • Colouring pencils/crayons/felt tips (change it up from time to time!)
8. Painting Kit

I love the little pots of paint that come with craft kits and I have kept a couple from kits the girls got for Christmas. These can be washed out and re-filled and hold just enough paint for a painting or two or a small project. Limiting the amount of paint should mean less mess for whoever has to clean up after them. Using a smaller brush will give my girls the experience of trying more detailed techniques of painting as opposed to the 'cover every inch of paper with thick gloopy paint' technique they use in preschool! For this kit, you will need:
  • Small paint pots (I have seen some just like these in discount/€2 stores)
  • Paper (different colours/textures/qualities/etc)

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I don't plan to give my girls a kit everyday, I'd never be organised enough to pull that off! As I mentioned before, they are at home with their Dad during the week and do lots of other fun things with him, which are just as important as creative time. These kits are perfect for those afternoons when there is nothing planned or when it's too wet to go out. This might be once or twice a week. The above list could get you through 8 weeks, in theory, and then you could just alter the contents slightly and start all over again!

I plan to collect more ideas over on Pinterest for this project and I'll also do an update soon on how my girls are getting on with it. I'll also ask Devo how HE thinks they're getting on, and if they are actually able to craft as 'independently' as I envision them doing.

Ultimately, I suppose,these little kits are a way for me to feel close to them while I am absent. Something new for us to talk about when I get home from work. A way for them to know I am thinking about them, even though I am not there. Something to assuage this working-mamas guilt, for not being at home with her babies.

I hope it works!



10 comments

  1. What a really lovely idea! Similar to "strewing"! I definitely find, when they are smaller, that to be organised, and have all the "bits" needed in one place before it is ever mentioned, is a reasonable guarantee for enjoyable crafting.... although usually, with me, we are halfway through a project and I'm stressing trying to find all the bits needed *that I should have organised before*...

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    1. Thanks Emily. Yes, it is similar to your 'strewing' technique, though probably more rigid! It's a bit limited in terms of - the fun stops when the paint runs out- but with the stage my little ones are at, it's probably about the right amount for them anyway!

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  2. Wow I love this. Before Christmas I did lazy Christmas card making with my 5 year old and realised how wonderful it was to have everything in the one little box and not be taking out a whole big craft set. I never thought of taking it to the next level to do what you've done. What a wonderful idea. I'll definitely be stealing it.

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    1. Thanks Laura! It's exactly those type of kits that inspired me. The girls got a few over Christmas and I noticed how little input they needed from me while they were doing them, so I figured, if i made my own basic kits, it would be an opportunity for them to get more creative time into their week. You'll have to share what you come up with with me!

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  3. Was wondering what you would come you would come up with but these are really fantastic and achievable! I can imagine the girls delight on opening up their little crafting bag surprise!

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    1. Thanks Naomi. So far so good - they loved their first project!

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  4. This is gorgeous! Our house is a little young at the moment but it's ear marked for when they boys can be trusted with child friendly scissors :) Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thanks April! Yes, it has taken me a while to get brave enough to leave them with proper scissors, but they actually could do with a haircut each, so if the inevitable happens it'll give me the push to bring them to get it fixed ;)

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  5. brilliant idea's there, can't wait to set them up with my babes

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