My kids LOVE cardboard rolls, cotton balls, ribbon, paper, and stickers. Basically anything that can be cut, glued, knotted or anything else their little minds can imagine. For Christmas I know the kids are receiving board games and lots of arts supplies so in preparation, I have made a craft and game station.
I know it is the holidays and we are all a little low on extra cash but you can create this station from what you already have in your home. Spending a total of $18 on a shelf from Home Depot, I was able to make an organized station. Using bins, drawer organizers, peanut butter containers and crates I already had, I started sorting out the materials. It is not a beautiful but it is functional. Let’s be honest, the kids could careless about the lack of matching containers, they just want to be able to access fun materials.
Now that items are organized into different containers, its time to talk mess. Every house has a different comfort level for mess. In our house that means paint, beans, beads, and stamps all need my approval before use, therefore they are on the top shelf. All games can be accessed but the rules are they can only have one game out at a time and not while the craft supplies are out.
On The Chicken’s Egg, we do a lot of crafts and activities that have a set purpose and learning outcome, but it is so important for kids to be allowed to explore and create without any adult direction. This is when they become little scientists, explorers, and creators.
Things I have noticed since creating this station is just because it’s art supplies does not mean they use it as art supplies. Yes, the projects start with glue and scissors but by the end they have turned simple art supplies into camping supplies, forts, gravity experiments and so much more than I could ever imagine.
My daughter is pretending to be a reindeer on Santa’s sleigh. She has made the pipe cleaners into obstacles she has to get over and the cotton balls are snow.
I admit that I like things orderly and start to cringe a bit when pipe cleaners and cotton balls spread from the table to the stairs. But then I look at my kids and know that they are are not just making a mess but they have a purpose. I can hear them talking to each other and making up games as well as experimenting with how objects move, hang, and twist. Sometimes it is unnecessary to ask questions mid activity because many children will organically come up with questions during their activity. However, while we are cleaning up I ask them leading questions like “wow, the stairs look amazing, what were you creating here?” I try to leave the questions open ended so as to not put any ideas into their heads. You would be amazed what they come up with!
On a side note, the clean up is not as terrible as you would expect seeing as each supply has a very specific bin and area. Often the more organized the area is the easier the clean up becomes!
Let’s let our children explore and create. This is one step towards developing the minds of our future. By encoraging child driven exploration to take place we allow their critical thinking skill to develop and the type of outside the box thinking that will enable them to be independent thinkers and learners for life.
Written by Jamie Jackson