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Creativity in children needs to be encouraged

Art and crafts has always been one of my very favorite things to do since I was a small child. Even before we had children, I would often imagine spending time coloring and finger painting with my future kids.

Little kids especially, need time to sit down and put their concentration into something creative. It can be great quiet time for them, and it encourages using their imagination, while helping to work on dexterity and hand eye coordination.

Along with sparking that little creativity center in their brains, it can really spark some communication with their parents as well. I love sitting down with our kids while they draw or paint pictures and then hearing the summary of everything going on in that picture.

Honestly, sometimes I really need the explanation to understand what looks like scribbles.

Sometimes there is a back story, and sometimes it’s just a doodle. But my personal favorites are the ones where our family is involved. Our middle son has a habit of drawing elaborate little books during church, where our Pastor often makes a cameo. The illustrations and storyline are incredibly entertaining, and some of them are going to be kept for years to come.

There are plenty of different outlets and resources for kids to express themselves. Whether it’s on plain white paper, a coloring book, colored construction paper, watercolor paper, or even canvas.

Our personal favorites to use are finger paints and sponges, but we also use good old-fashioned crayons, watercolors, tub paint, play-doh, markers and colored pencils. Cookie cutters and paint are another great one, and while we are bringing up cookie cutters, cutting out and decorating cookies is also one of our favorite past times.

One of the best ways I have found to keep our kids entertained while I am making dinner, is to have them sit down with a bunch of paper and supplies and see what they come up with.

They chat happily, in between the quiet, tongue-out, concentration times. You know they are into it if they make that classic concentrating face.

This will keep them content and entertained while being near you while allowing you to get some work done.

Although I personally love creating and making a mess with little ones, I realize that not everyone does. If you want to start some creative time with someone little in your life, here are some tips to get you started.

Tips for creative play

1. Start small. If your baby is young and this is the first craft time you’re having, don’t expect them to love it, and don’t expect it to last long.

Our kids did not enjoy the feeling of wet squishy paint at all when they were babies. But after a couple times experimenting with it, and seeing that it all came off in the bath, they both love it.

If you see them getting frustrated, don’t make them keep playing. 10 minutes might be all they need, while older kids can be perfectly happy for an hour.

One thing they did love when they were little is those little fuzzy pom-poms. Sort them by color, glue them together, or create little creatures out of them.

2. Tub time. If you aren’t quite ready for the clean up that’s often involved, start off where you’re going to end up.

Specially made bath paints and crayons are easy to find, and some of them smell downright wonderful. Just be careful about the appetizing smell, babies and toddlers will want to eat them up!

If you can’t find bath paint or don’t wish to buy any, watercolors are also great for tub play, and clean up easily.

Just make sure that with any of these ideas, you wash them off your tub immediately so they don’t stain.

3. Prepare for messes. They are bound to happen. If you give your child paint, expect it to somehow, someway, end up on you too. It’s inevitable.

Buy washable everything. Crayola makes great washable paint that washes out just like it advertises. We had a slight mishap the other day and I was able to wipe the paint right off my son’s clothing with a cold wet washcloth without having to pretreat it or anything. Kudos to you, Crayola!

Make sure that you and your child are wearing something that you won’t cry about losing, just in case, and probably not white. And if possible, cover up with a smock or apron.

As always, thanks for reading! And happy crafting from HBK!

Katy Wise is a Fredonia resident.

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