Baby in kitchen with guilty face looks at camera. Mom and two siblings are doing crafts in the background.

Mastering the Art of Crafting with Kids – Four Tips for Maximum Fun

I think many of us have visions of how it will be to do crafts with our kids. (Cue the dream sequence music…) We'll all sit around the table working on our creations. Each of us will have a smile on our faces as we quietly paint, glue, and create.

CRASH- Nope!- toss THAT dream out the window.

Instead, we finally manage to clear off the table and drag our supplies out. The oldest child moans about how boring your idea is, the baby starts eating marker tips, and while you've been trying to get past these beginning hurdles and JUST GET STARTED, the four-year-old has been gluing foam bits to the table. (That's why he was so quiet!!)

OK, the truth is that sometimes it's really hard to have fun while crafting with kids. But it can be done!

1. Practice Makes Perfect When Creating Together

The first tip I want to share is this: crafting with kids takes practice. Just like any other routine in your family life, crafting together gets easier if you do it more often.

If you go into a project with the attitude that you're just practicing this, it changes how you view the situation. Your goal shifts from ‘completing a craft' and instead can become ‘learning how to enjoy creating together'. This change in outlook can help you relax a bit more as you hit crafting obstacles.

2. What You Call Your Crafting Matters

Secondly, did you know that what you call your craft project can make a huge difference in whether your kids get excited to create with you? Here's the deal – my kids don't like to do “crafts.” If I present an activity by asking if they want to do a craft, I'll get a resounding NO. 

If I ask in a different way, they'll be thrilled to ‘do a project', ‘play a drawing game' or ‘make creations'. Yes – those could all be called crafts, but somehow, my kids have associated crafts with Not Fun.

When I asked my 7-year-old some questions about this, here was our conversation:

Do you like doing crafts?
   No.
How about making inventions?
   Yes.
Do you like doing art?
   No.
Do you like doing projects?
   What sort of projects?
Creative projects.
   Umm, sort of, yes.
Do you like to draw?
   No.
Do you like playing drawing games?
  Yes.

Each of these descriptions frames the activity in a slightly different way. Of course, each kid is different, but if you pay attention, you'll start to notice which language appeals most to your child, and then when you introduce an activity, you can tailor your words to suit their interests. It can be much easier to enjoy creating with kids when you don't have to overcome that initial wall of rejection!

3. Put Some Creative Activities on Repeat

One of my crafting secrets is having a few simple crafts that we repeat often. These don't require much effort to get out supplies or to get going because we've done them plenty of times. Even if we try something new, I can fall back on these if the new project is a miserable failure. Some of our easy crafting favorites are:

  • Painting *anything* is usually a hit, even if there is no end product in mind.
  • Drawing with crayons and using watercolors over the crayon lines
  • Decorating paper airplanes
  • Making cards with stickers, markers, and glitter glue

4. Keep a Stash of Your Favorite Craft Supplies

And finally, Keep a few simple crafts supplies gathered together. With supplies ready, it becomes easier to craft often. We made a kid's craft basket filled with the most used supplies. I keep it in a cupboard along with a plastic tablecloth. This makes it super easy to cover our crafting areas and create together.

Craft often with your kids, and you'll begin to know what's fun for your family and what will probably flop. As you get to know what your family will enjoy, you'll have an easier time choosing what new crafts to explore together.