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#31 of 51 Old 12-13-2006, 07:04 PM
 
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I think it is fine motor skills and a whole lot more.

Like being able to imagine a result and create a mental plan to make it happen, then manipulate real 3D materials and discover what they will and won't do while solving many little practical problems along the way.

I do think it is essential to create something. Many craft projects are not well-designed and many will not fit an individual child's interests. I think this is often true of curriculum-tied crafts. Making things seems to interest most children IME but maybe this should be with hammer and nails, or maps, or making toys that can be used somehow, or making cookies rather than cut-and-paste.

Also, crafts I think should be simple in materials and process, with more than one pathway to completion rather than the common expectation that the child will follow listed directions to a predicatable result. Those kinds of crafts are often dull for anyone.

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#32 of 51 Old 12-13-2006, 07:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kleine Hexe View Post
I do not like crafts. At all. I lose my temper quickly if I have to participate in a craft with my kids.

I provide the materials and then stand back and let them do whatever. I'm happy and they are happy.

If I try to organize it in any way to have a finished project we will all be unhappy.

Ah, see and I think this is the crux of this... it all depends on what each of us defines as a 'craft'. Oh, so lovely semantics.

The girls had arts/craft time today. (i.e in the kitchen)

I printed out this snowman template... 4 to a sheet.
My 2 year old made rainbow snowman, and cut them out.
My oldest colored the hat in, made faces, hair etc... She then had the idea of gluing a long piece of paper to the back, and announced she had made a puppet!! I mentioned I had some sticks she could use if she wanted. The girls went nuts with that idea... and they proceeded to make 4 snowman puppets each. My 2 year old needed a little help with the elmer's glue, since she hadn't used it before...only stick glue.


Anyway, it was a 'craft'.... but I had no 'boundaries' on it. I didn't even really select it, my 2 year old told me she wanted to do a snowman craft. LOL!

To me, this was a craft... BUT far different than the very simplistic, yet 'pretty' ones that preschool/classes do, where they often just allow kids to do one facet of the project.

The thing I loved about the craft the girls did... it was soooo directed by them. I guided where needed.

Sounds like we do pretty much the same thing...stand out of their way while they create... I just happen to use the semantics and call it a craft. :-)

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#33 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 05:35 PM
 
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I think because a lot of kids this age DO enjoy crafts and the process of creating something from nothing. Not all kids do and if yours doesn't, it isn't a problem in the least.
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#34 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 06:09 PM
 
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I think that some of us are just defining craft differently. I consider us to be doing crafts when I throw a bunch of stuff on the table (paper, scissors, glue, string, glitter, pom poms, paint, crayons, whatever) and the kids have at it and do whatever they feel like doing with it. There is no set end product and for us it's all about the process and having fun. I have tried the craft projects you get at the craft store where you copy the directions and get a neat looking craft, but they aren't as much fun and way too time consuming and mama directed for my taste. My 2 1/2 year old dd loooves anything artsy. She is especially into cutting and pasting this month. I give her a stack of paper and scissors and glue and she sits at the table for hours, cutting little scraps and gluing them down. My 5 year old ds won't even pick up a crayon. But he has fine motor skill issues, so it just isn't fun for him. Fine with me, he can do something else while dd and I make art. He is very proud of the things he brings home from therapy (he's in OT and speech) where they are practicing coloring, cutting, and writing his name.
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#35 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 06:10 PM
 
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Oh and sometimes what they decide to do with the craft supplies is toss them around the room to see if pompoms or foam hearts fly faster! LOL!! I'm not sure that would really be a craft though. But it sure is fun!
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#36 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 06:44 PM
 
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One thing that I find helpful is realizing that for the young child, art is a form of expression for the child's inner being. At this young age, outcome oriented crafts go against this expression. Have you tried just doing pure beeswax modelling wax or even just watercolour painting? Yong ones, IMHO prefer the process over the outcome....just a thought!
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#37 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 10:53 PM
 
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I think art should be opened -ended for littles. Art materials can also be helpful in buidling fine motors skills. Squeezing, tearing, cutting, etc are all precursers towards buidling muscle for the use of writing tools and keyboards etc. Now that wees ones spend so much time using game boys, computer keyboards, and joy sitcks, the art piece of glue, glitter, hole punch, stapler, paint, etc might no longer be a reasonable fine motor builder.
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#38 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 11:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Brigianna View Post
Another reason crafts might be popular in a group child-care setting is that it's an activity that can be done simultaneously by a group of children under the direction of one adult who may not know that much about children or teaching. "Free play" requires more supervision than is often available, and stories and videos can only hold little attention spans for so long. So that leaves crafts.
No way. A good teacher will leave free-playing children be to imagine!! The last thing children need is an adult determining how to 'free play'. Oy. I can't imagine anything worse, really.

Crafts is very often the 'teaching ' part of the day. A lot of teachers dislike the carp of it, but too many parents want to see 'work'. Days and days of splotchy globs of tempra pain on giant pieces of paper as children enjoy the material is too often dissed by parents looking for bang for their 'eduational' buck.

The worst teachers look at 'free play' as their breaks, and don't do anything more than make sure nobody falls off the jungle gym (when they might be thinking of ways to help children extend thier play). Which is good I think. Most kids in preschool need a break from being 'taught'.
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#39 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 11:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by waldorfymama View Post
One thing that I find helpful is realizing that for the young child, art is a form of expression for the child's inner being. At this young age, outcome oriented crafts go against this expression. Have you tried just doing pure beeswax modelling wax or even just watercolour painting? Yong ones, IMHO prefer the process over the outcome....just a thought!
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#40 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 11:29 PM
 
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In an Early Childhood Education setting where the teachers are well educated you will never see an emphasis on crafts, even IF the parents desire it. In my experience parents are happier with a picture of their child participating in an open-ended art activity. This includes an elaborate block creation!

In High Quality child care environments, the children engage in ART activities. The emphasis is on the process of the art, not the final product. You will see high quality art materials used with a bit of instruction on how to use the materials, but what the children do with the materials is up to them.

In Reggio-Emilia the preschool teachers there believe that children have "One Hundred Languages" with which they express themselves. The children are exposed to many different materials to express themselves including Lego, wood, clay, paint, and recycled materials.

Art enriches the inner life of children, crafts are fun if not too much emphasis is placed on the final product...
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#41 of 51 Old 12-14-2006, 11:42 PM
 
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No way. A good teacher will leave free-playing children be to imagine!! The last thing children need is an adult determining how to 'free play'. Oy. I can't imagine anything worse, really.

Crafts is very often the 'teaching ' part of the day. A lot of teachers dislike the carp of it, but too many parents want to see 'work'. Days and days of splotchy globs of tempra pain on giant pieces of paper as children enjoy the material is too often dissed by parents looking for bang for their 'eduational' buck.

The worst teachers look at 'free play' as their breaks, and don't do anything more than make sure nobody falls off the jungle gym (when they might be thinking of ways to help children extend thier play). Which is good I think. Most kids in preschool need a break from being 'taught'.
A good teacher probably will be able to let children free play, but I was thinking of those situations with 30+ kids to one adult in a small room. They don't want to do free play because there's not enough supervision resources to prevent injuries. So they do crafts, interspersed with videos and reading aloud.
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#42 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 12:43 AM
 
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I'm another mama who hates doing crafts. I love to look at them in activity books, but actually doing them, ugh.... My poor kids, we don't even own paints. That's a special treat they get to do at Grandma's, not at home.

My dd's love to draw though and will spend a lot of time making cards and drawing pictures. My 9yo has made lots of "books" and illustrated them. My 5yo is always making pictures for friends and family and putting them in envelopes to "deliver" to them. So I guess they do some crafty things, just nothing structured or that I need to oversee.

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#43 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 09:09 AM
 
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Some days all we do is free play and the girls are more content on those days. I always have paint at our easel and the girls know they can pick from the art area, crayons, pencils, markers etc.
Right now, we are doing more baking type projects and less free play but i would say their day is still 80-85% free play.

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#44 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 10:05 AM
 
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A good teacher probably will be able to let children free play, but I was thinking of those situations with 30+ kids to one adult in a small room. They don't want to do free play because there's not enough supervision resources to prevent injuries.
Where do you live that preschools are allowed to have 30+ kids supervised by only one teacher?

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#45 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 11:33 AM
 
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Where do you live that preschools are allowed to have 30+ kids supervised by only one teacher?
I was actually thinking more of church nurseries than licensed preschools. I don't know what the standard child-teacher ratio is in preschools.
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#46 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 12:41 PM
 
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Around here I think it is 8-10 kids per teacher. I'm not sure if that's the actual law or just how it happens to work out (it's a small town). At that age a class of 20 with two teachers is still too big of a class, in my opinion.

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#47 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 02:13 PM
 
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"Crafts" are food for the soul.

"Crafts" can teach many many basics . . . fine motor skills wasn't even a blip on my radar when I read the OP. They teach math (addition, subtraction, ratios, etc) in a non-"teachy" way. They teach chemistry (what happens when you add baking soda to vinegar?). They teach biology (what happens when you add yeast to flour and sugar?).

"Crafts" can be very affirming in the sense of accomplishement that one feels when complete.

"Crafts" allow for expression of emotions in a non-verbal way (when dd1 is upset, she draws. When dd1 is happy, she draws. When dd1 can't sleep, she draws.)

"Crafts" produce essentials for daily life as well as those things we keep because they make us happy.

"Crafting" is another form of play.

"Crafts" cannot be narrowly defined - drawing, gluing and such are things you see in a playschool, but there's also creating things to wear (sewing, crocheting, knitting, etc), creating things that are beautiful to look at and evoke emotion (painting, coloring, drawing, embroidery and other needlework), creating furniture and houses, even creating the food we eat, and the list goes on - in a nutshell, "crafting" is the process of creation.

Everything you look at, sit on, dwell in or eat that is not a direct process of nature is a "craft"

fwiw, I do think that one needs to reach a certain level of consciousness before the ability to create can occur - and I think that often at 2.5, kids are still not fully aware of the concept of "self" - I know my dd wasn't.

I just don't think craft can be so narrowly defined.

As far as the types of crafts that are expected with many preschoolers - I think part of the problem there is they often don't allow for any inner creative processes or expression. But they can be a gateway to others.
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#48 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 05:59 PM
 
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i think the OP is very brave to have started this thread! I have wondered the same thing myself and love all the great answers in this thread.

I love crafts myself--always have--but my kids don't. My eldest has fine motor delays and playgroups (which always ended up as craftfests) would stress her out. She's also very highly sensitive. At my home, I would get the feeling that if i didn't have some kind of organized craft project ready to go when kids got there that i was negligent. I actually had one mom ask me in a condescending tone, "so what are the kids going to do?" (I handed her some crayons and some scrap paper and said go for it. I was amazed at how gleeful she looked -- as if i had just saved her from dealing with a child about to explore the wonders of a mud puddle.)

Crafts are fine and wonderful for all the things people have mentioned. But there are other things in life. Music is good! Dancing is fun! Telling stories. Reading books. Playing games like london bridges or duck duck goose. There are tons of things to do besides crafts projects. C'mon all you craftsy mom's--you can get creative too!
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#49 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 06:55 PM
 
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Crafts are fine and wonderful for all the things people have mentioned. But there are other things in life. Music is good! Dancing is fun! Telling stories. Reading books. Playing games like london bridges or duck duck goose. There are tons of things to do besides crafts projects. C'mon all you craftsy mom's--you can get creative too!
True, but on the same token you'd be hard-pressed to get my dd to listen to a story. Or to get my friend's little guy to join into a group game. Or to get a few kids I know to play music.
I think all of these things are important (I mean on a global level, I'm not advocating forcing any kid to participate in the activities they don't enjoy), and, as I stated earlier, all different forms of play. And not every kid is going to like every activity that occurs in a group setting, no matter what the situation. But the variety enables different kids to enjoy different parts of a group play session.

I could just as easily pose the question "Why the focus on a story?", given my dd's disinterest (she loves looking at books, even books without pictures even though she can't read, but she just doesn't want to listen to stories).
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#50 of 51 Old 12-15-2006, 07:48 PM
 
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I could just as easily pose the question "Why the focus on a story?"
that's just it. if there was the same emphasis on storytelling as there is on crafts, i'm sure many of us would go bonkers too.
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#51 of 51 Old 12-16-2006, 01:20 AM
 
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"Crafts" are food for the soul.

....

Everything you look at, sit on, dwell in or eat that is not a direct process of nature is a "craft"

....

As far as the types of crafts that are expected with many preschoolers - I think part of the problem there is they often don't allow for any inner creative processes or expression. But they can be a gateway to others.
Excellent post! I personally love crafts, as does my older DD. I think they give a nice background that allows them to find a love for painting, knitting, wood working, or otherwise creating something when they get older. If your child isn't into crafts, that's fine! Not everyone is! But I think to write them off totally isn't the right idea. As HerthElde said, everything around us is something that could be considered a craft, or that is born of a craft.

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