It’s hard enough to entertain one child, so what do you do when there are multiple kids in the equation? And they’re all different ages on top of that? Sure, children of different ages have different abilities and interests but don’t underestimate the amount of things that they may have in common too.
Fun, hands-on activities like arts and crafts are one way to keep kids engaged while allowing the necessary variation demanded by different age groups and individuals.
There are the obvious benefits that arts and crafts provide, like a chance for kids to express themselves and explore their creativity or the peaceful quiet together time that it can provide your family, but that doesn’t make it easy to get everyone on board. If you are looking to keep kids of all ages busy and having fun, then here are some things to keep in mind.
Invest in the Long Term
Sure it’s fun to have a one-off afternoon of drawing and coloring, but even the brightest kids can get bored of doing the same thing over and over again. If you plan on returning to arts and crafts frequently, a healthy amount of variety is one solution, but another is to help everyone involved invest in a long-term project. Projects can be tailored for individual kids but also make a great way to get the whole group working together and allow everyone to contribute.
This might mean something intensive like a mural that requires thoughtful planning and scheduling. Or it can be something much more casual like a Lego city that anyone can add a block or building to whenever the inspiration strikes. For a more individual focus think of projects that are easy to return or are themed – preteens might like making their own sketchbook of different places in the neighborhood while preschoolers might have fun focusing each day on a different letter and ending up with their very own alphabet drawing book!
Whatever the project, don’t miss the opportunity that arts and crafts provides to teach long term skills like building good work habits!
Don’t Be Afraid of Technology
Sometimes you need to entertain kids on the fly. And it’s not like you can keep a tub of arts and craft supplies with you everywhere you go. Sure, it’s good to maybe have some pencil and paper on hand but don’t think that time spent with a smartphone necessarily has to be time wasted.
There are plenty of all-ages, low-cost apps with an arts and creativity focus that you’ll soon regret all the times when you weren’t equipped to make time in a waiting room more than just waiting.
Even at home, it’s ok to get a little more high tech!
Don’t Forget About the Differences
With all this focus on group work and all-ages play, it’s important to also remember and reward the different stages of development that kids will be at. Even when working on the same kind of activity, try to tailor the time for each kids specific needs.
For toddlers, remember that motor skills and basic concepts are the big takeaways. Tactile activities teach them about the world around them, while also stimulating cognitive and creative growth.
For preschoolers, this kind of learning can continue helping them to develop strong skills of perception, memory, and more. Another benefit that many preschoolers may start to glean is the relationship aspect. Understanding their own relationship to their project as the creator and the relationship that they have in common with others in the same space. This can mean things like sharing art supplies or respecting the way that someone else has decided to do something!
For preteens, the social aspect becomes an even bigger component. It’s important for many kids this age to learn to be proud of their work and also to be comfortable exploring, whether that means different meanings or learning the deeper meaning behind the choices that they make. That doesn’t mean that every piece of art that they make needs to have some big theme, but their attempts to do so should be encouraged!
Here are some additional developmental benefits to keep in mind.
So there you have it! Don’t forget that above all arts and crafts should be fun. And if that’s what you’re doing, then you should be able to entertain a kid of any age and maybe even have a little fun yourself!