Musings on Craft

Are you creating things with little people?  I often am!  I have a few craft books to inspire, but I don't regularly use them...  I normally search online for a specific theme, eg: "rainbow craft preschool".  Or sometimes I search for activities to use up specific materials, eg: "seedpod crafts".  I have the beginnings of a folder of ideas in Pinterest, but I forget to add to it!

We like to use materials from nature, mixed with materials that can be composted.  We try to avoid plastic, foam, synthetic fibres, over-packaged kits, single-use everything!  I remember about 20 years ago taking my tribe of small children to playgroup and coming home with at least four creations made from plastic and styrofoam, glitter and googly eyes.  And another four the next week.  And over and over until our home was filled with non-recyclable art that inevitably ended up in the bin.  We still have way too many precious creations floating about (with only one preschooler), but every now and then I can take a photo of them, and put them into the recycling or compost, which feels much better!

Our craft shelves are stocked with:
- coloured paper - A4, small squares, tissue, washi tape, crepe paper, streamers cupcake holders...
- a roll of easel paper
- butchers paper
- a ream of recycled printer paper
- brown paper bags in 2 sizes
- plain paper unwaxed cups and plates in various sizes
- cotton pipe cleaners, cotton wool balls
- twine, cotton, and various remnants of wool & other yarn
- fleece - plain and dyed
- wool felt sheets
- wooden beads of varying sizes, shapes, colours
- recycled items from the home (but not mountains of it - yuk)
- feathers, seed pods, sticks, rocks, shells, driftwood
- safety pins, keyrings, wooden pegs, glue, air dry clay, needles & thread and other fastenings to make beautiful & useful creations from natural materials
- appropriate sized scissors, lucets, wooden knitting needles & crochet hooks and other tools to create with what we have and find

I didn't tidy up on purpose, so you can see the reality of keeping these supplies on hand in the photos on this post!  I normally choose a craft a few days before a playgroup or babysitting day and gather the materials.   If appropriate, I'll put enough for each activity into a brown paper bag for each child.  Otherwise, I'll put the right amount of each material to share into baskets and bowls to place on the table with the correct tools.  All of this goes into a box.  At craft time, I only need to pull everything out, ready to go!  If there are instructions, or a sample I've made, or an illustration, I'll include that too.  Sometimes we just "do craft" but other times, we make a specific type of thing (eg: a mobile, or rainbows, or a little animal).  When I was homeschooling several children of different ages, I'd often do a similar thing and have it all set up ready to go, but when I'm crafting with only Zeah, we're usually way less structured.  At the end of the session, all leftover items and tools go back into the box ready to be unpacked onto the shelves by me later.  Any instructions are slipped into a folder at one end of the craft shelves, as sometimes I'll repeat an activity with another group of children.  I clean up these shelves around once a year, pulling everything out and tidying it.  I restock when I find stuff, or when I do an online order from a supplier like Cleverpatch.  Several items we use, I buy from the local supermarket.  A lot of our craft materials also come from friends and our local barter system.


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