Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Art is a Process (for me)

The girls and I have been doing a lot, and I mean a LOT, of arts and crafts these last few months.  Partially because our outdoor time is severely limited due to the severe cold and the intolerance that some people (cough*me*cough) have for spending 20 minutes bundling the kids up in their winter outdoor gear, only to hear 5 minutes later, "Can we go in?  I'm cold."  But mostly because it's fun.  It's fun, and I get to sit down and enjoy myself too.  (Half the fun of having kids is playing with their toys and enjoying simple activities right alongside them.)

Making Valentines for friends and family
(Notice how neat and tidy the table and supplies are.  This is the very beginning of the me.  It did NOT look anything like this halfway through!  My floor will never be the same.  And I don't care.)
The benefits of arts and crafts are numerous.  I borrowed these 10 Compelling Reasons to do Arts and Crafts with Your Kids from the Helping Kids with Arts website:

1. Creativity
2. Perseverance
3. Concentration
4. Delayed Gratification
5. Social Interaction
6. Task Completion
7. Planning
8. Expression Of Emotions
9. Openness
10. Self Image
Liesl's projects from a "learning to draw" book that I picked up at a garage sale somewhere.  They LOVE these.
Little do my kids understand any of this.  To them, it’s just FUN.  It’s fun when Mommy throws a bunch of stuff on the table and says, “have at it.”  It’s fun when we have an actual project in mind, and they do it halfway but take off on their own--often different from each other--tangents.  As I keep telling them…some projects are like recipes.  They’re just a guideline.  (My OCD-prone 5 year-old still struggles with that concept:  "You're using ALMONDS?!?!?!?  The recipe says 'HAZELNUTS.'")

"Mommy, will you paint watercolors with us?"
How could I refuse?  I did these paintings of their names and they acted like I had bestowed upon them the greatest gift one could ever give them.  And here's the best part:  I, myself, had a blast while doing it.
And the funny part...I had to sit down and DO several projects with them before they started “getting it” that it takes time and perseverance to actually complete the project. It took a couple of months for me to realize this (“Hey Mom, you gotta persevere right in front of ‘em if you want ‘em to learn it themselves.”) I know some parents view arts and crafts as a way to keep kids busy so they can accomplish something. That used to be my goal...but they kept asking me, “Mommy, will you paint with us? Mommy, will you color with us? Mommy, will you do Valentine’s crafts with us?” How can I refuse? The dishes can wait.  (Besides, to use art as a way to keep kids busy so you can get things done is totally redundant.  Have you SEEN the mess that glitter can make?)
Bring on the crayon shavings and pipe cleaners.