The following post is from Shannen at Middle Way Mom
Are you intimidated to get started with handicrafts? With small children, they have so much excitement to make something themselves, but we don’t want to present a project that frustrates them and kills that excitement.
Still, we don’t want to wait so long that our child no longer has an interest in crafts of any sort.
Charlotte Mason says:
The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.
~ Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Volume 1, pgs 315-316
Charlotte offers some suggestions for handicrafts for children under 9, but to be honest, many of them seem antiqued, or would be hard to source. So what handicraft ideas are useful for young children in our modern times?
We’ve tried a few handicraft ideas in our home with my 6 year old daughter: some very successful, and some not as much. Here I’ll share with you what I believe are some of the best projects to get started, in sha Allah.
What are handicrafts?
Handicrafts are more than arts and crafts. Handicrafts are useful items that serve a purpose, or decorate a useful item, like embroidery.
Learning some basic handicrafts helps children:
- Learn the value of items, and the work that goes into them, also helping children see the issue with cheap labor to make clothing and household items
- Practice fine motor skills
- Find passions and hobbies to nuture both their creative and practical side
- Teach them valuable skills they can use as they grow older
How did we start with handicrafts in my home? My 4 year old, at the time, saw me knitting one day and begged me to teach her, but again I didn’t want to teach her something where she had little likelihood to be successful. Fortunately, I found a used knitting loom online and purchased that, plus I had some yarn left over from my own projects.
She took to it immediately and has been making hats and crowns (hats without tops) ever since.
At 4 years old she needed some guidance, but overall mashaAllah she did quite well independently, and she had a great sense of accomplishment
Weaving can result in many different types of projects, the most common for kids being pot holders. We started with pot holders because it was really cheap to get the loom and the bands, but I can see it sparked something bigger in my 6 year old and she’d love if I got her a weaving loom for other projects like making scarves, placemats, or bracelets.
You can find many YouTube videos about making your own weaving loom to make a variety of projects to get you started, or find a high quality, affordable kit.
Simple sewing projects
Sewing School is a great book to get ideas for really simple projects. We started with a couple charm squares of fabric, a needle, thread, and some cotton stuffing, and with this my daughter made a pillow for her dolls. A variation of this project is only sewing three sides and not stuffing it to make a pocket, or attach a handle to make a doll bag.
The book offers many other projects kids can work on, but I loved how simple the pillow project was to get us started.
Knit or crochet
I hear many people mention how their grandmother or mother taught them how to knit or crochet when they were 5, 6, or 7 years old, but a common theme is that they didn’t stick with it. I have taught my child how to knit, because she insisted, but with the attention span of young children, it’s hard for them to even see a washcloth project through to completion.
If your child is interested in it, I wouldn’t say to hold back, but until they are about 8 years old, I wouldn’t expect a child to run with it like they would with weaving pot holders.
Yarn or fabric dyeing
Super easy, and super fun for kids! Even more fun? Dyeing their own yarn, then knitting with it themselves on the loom!
There are a lot of videos on YouTube to teach you how to dye yarn, but I personally prefer to pick up a kit from a well regarded source so I don’t waste time and money on a video that may or may not be well constructed. Knit Picks has some books, dyes, and bare yarn to purchase. Another great source is your local yarn shop, and it supports local small businesses.
Advice for starting with handicrafts
While Charlotte Mason suggests only giving a child work that they can perfect, that doesn’t mean that’s it’s perfect the first time around. Offer up some options and let your child choose something in their interest.
Also, in your day to day lives, point out items that the child could make themselves and offer up ideas.
And… the best way to encourage your child to take up handicrafts?
Do them yourself! Invite your child to help sew on a button. Knit while doing your homeschooling lessons. Quilt while watching a movie.
Not into fiber arts? Paint rocks together, garden, paint bird houses, and other useful crafts to spark an interest.
What are some handicraft ideas you’ve tried with your child?
Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.