Slow Down for Summer Crafting with Kids

by Faith Hale, staff artist and crafty mom

I love watching how my crafts change with the seasons, especially now that I’m a mom. There’s the back-to-school projects designed to grow scissor or handwriting skills, the holiday creations to be gifted, crafts focused on themes and events. But summer is when I feel the most comfortable relaxing into the mess of it all – leaving the dining room table covered with art supplies and then picnicking in the back yard for dinner instead.

Most artists and crafters I know have either process or project-based tendencies. Because my daughter is only four, I’m still not sure which type she is, so I like to have both kinds of projects on hand for whichever mood she’s in. For example, sometimes she’s thrilled with paper and crayons and sometimes she wants me to help her construct a very specific penguin out of paper – process vs. project. For the magical child (and aren’t they all?!) may I suggest wands of all sorts. Creativebug has a trio of wand classes that make me smile whenever I see them: Magic Wands by Amy Karol (pictured above), Fairy Bubble Wands by Rad Megan, (below) and if you’re making the project to gift to a child, Twinkie Chan shows you how to crochet both a crown and a star wand.

For process-based art, summer is an excellent time to get your kids working in a sketchbook. Many of our daily practices are geared towards artists of all ages and abilities, and the confidence built by working a little bit at a time, every single day, is immeasurable. I’ve been recommend Tracing Shadows with Lisa Solomon since it came out a few years ago, not only for its accessibility but because it transforms every-day items into objects of inspiration.

My new favorite kid-friendly daily practice takes something you’re likely already doing with your kiddos – reading cute picture books – and turning it into art. It’s easy for me to take the artwork in my daughter’s books for granted, especially if it’s the third “just one more book before bed” request of the night, but the brilliant Constance Moore developed a daily practice class that will you have you looking at them from an entirely new perspective. I’m so in love with how Constance’s class Inspired by Picture Books: A Daily Practice of Creative Prompts can stand on it’s own as a reading list, and all the projects are accessible and low-commitment. After completing just a few days of exercises, I found myself dreaming about the projects I could make using my daughter’s favorite books as a jumping off point.

A mantra I’ve tried to enact when crafting with kids is taken directly from the aggressively catchy Sesame Street song I Wonder, What if, Let’s Try. At the top of this blog post you’ll see an image from a class I taught live on Creativebug about making prints out of bubbles. In the class, we experiment with different concentrations of inks and paints. There are as many failures as there are successes, but the joy is in the investigation. And isn’t reveling in that joy precisely what summer is all about?

Faith Hale is a Creativebug artist and lives with her family in Lambertville, New Jersey. This summer she’s most excited about slow stitching, watching her micro-meadow grow, and tending to her Little Free Library.