Controlling the Craft Mess with Kids

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Can we be real for a second?  Life is messy.  Life is filled with spilled milk at breakfast, peanut butter smeared on the table at lunch, goldfish crumbs in the couch, in the carpet, in the car, in their hair!? (Am I right?)  And the list goes on.  Anything you do with kids is bound to have some mess.  Bath time means water on the floor; brushing teeth means toothpaste will ooze.  I don’t think I have to remind you how messy life can be, so what I am about to say may floor you.

I think you should be crafting with your kids.

I know that crafting is synonymous with mess for most people, but I want to tell you about some tricks that can help you control the mess so that you can create some great memories with your children!

#1 Cover the Table

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The first step is to accept that by giving your child the amazing opportunity to create art, you are going to have some clean up involved.  Covering the table with newspaper or plastic table cloths can help make sure the paint and glue stays off of the wood.  In our house we bought each child a plastic place mat that they pull out when it is crafting time.

#2 Cover the kids

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If you are worried about staining shirts or having to wash chalk off of sleeves, investing in some art smocks can be a great solution.  We love these from Ikea!  Dad’s old button up shirts turned backwards are a great option as well!  And no judgement here-my kids have spent many afternoons without shirts on as they paint their little hearts away.

#3 Provide Guidance and Instruction

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As a teacher, I have successfully guided 28 first graders in creating beautiful masterpieces.  The key is being very explicit in the process.  You can give children creative freedom, but explain how that will work.  Do you want to let them free paint?  Then tell them that they will be painting today and the goal is to keep as much of the paint on the paper as possible.  Teach them how to use the watercolors or paint tray responsibly.  Set up guidelines and rules for when you craft.  My kids know that they need to get their place mats, that we only use a dot of glue at a time, they are not allowed to walk with scissors, and if they need something when crafting they need to ask mom.

#4 Supervise!

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The most important way to control the mess is to SUPERVISE!  It can be tempting to leave the room once the art making is under way, or to try to catch up on some laundry, emails, or dish washing, but don’t!  Enjoy this time.  Talk with your kids.  Share stories.  Be present!  It will be a great way to connect with your kids, but also be there to prevent spilled water, paint on the table and glue in their hair.

I hope you take on the challenge of crafting with your kids and accept that while life is messy, some messes are completely worth the trouble!

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