Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Introducing Handicrafts to your Preschooler

Welcome back to 5 Days of Charlotte Mason Preschool!  Today's topic is Handicrafts for Preschoolers!  Let's start with a simple, but often misunderstood fact.  Handicrafts and crafts are not the same thing.

Handicrafts vs Crafts

"The points to be borne in mind in children's handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not be allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children's work should be kept well within their compass." ~ Charlotte Mason Vol. 1 p. 315, 316

When I discovered Handicrafts, it was a breath of fresh air. I allow my kids free time with craft supplies on the rare occasion that they ask, and admittedly I am a sucker for a cute hand print craft, but I don't plan "arts and craft" time.  Some children enjoy paper craft projects, but my kids and I never did get into them.

Handicrafts require skilled use of the hands to create decorative, and/or useful products.  Charlotte Mason believed that children should be taught slowly and carefully, taking their time to learn a useful skill.  When I think of Handicrafts, I think of activities that a person might want to continue as a hobby into adulthood.  Handicrafts in Charlotte Mason's day were practical and even necessary, because they could be given as gifts or even used to generate income, so it was important that children spent their time learning an artisan craft.

Just a Few Ideas . . . 

Leather Tooling
Loom Weaving

This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure and thank you!

Introducing Preschoolers to Handicrafts
If you aren't familiar with a handicraft, learn it with your child!  If someone you know is willing to offer lessons, that is fantastic!  If your child is interested in a particular handicraft, but you don't think they are ready for the fine motor skills or the tools involved, consider introducing a "preschool activity" that is similar.  The following is a list of activities that I have done, or am considering doing, with my preschoolers to help them develop the fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination needed for future handicrafts.  I include Artistic Expression as a form of handicrafts, so age-appropriate art activities {which I am discussing tomorrow} may overlap with handicrafts, and that is fine!

Lacing Cards
Lacing Beads
Rubber Stamps
Modeling Clay
Lego Duplo
Lincoln Logs
Wooden Craft Kits

I also include Cooking, Baking and Gardening, among other things, as sort of a combination Life Skills/Handicrafts skill set.  These are useful skills to learn, but many people find they particularly enjoy these activities and do them as a hobby.  Allow your child to help and learn beside you.  There is a sense of accomplishment for young children that comes from contributing something meaningful to the family.

Projects for Preschoolers
The general idea is to introduce a handicraft to your child and let them learn the skill, then work on project over a period of time.  If you are looking for more specific projects, consider choosing one of these for about 6-12 weeks at a time.  Most preschoolers will be eager to learn a new activity by then, but they can also continue the old one if they want.  The idea is to expose your child to many different handicrafts over a course of time so they can find something they are good at and love doing.

More Ideas
For more information on Handicrafts, or for more ideas, check out the following:
Ambleside Online Handicrafts
Simply Charlotte Mason: Preschool Enrichment
101 Handicraft Links
Handicrafts Should Be Handy {and how to hold a Craft Bazaar}
Art, Handicrafts and More is my Pinterest Board

If you missed any previous posts, be sure to catch up!
Day 1:  Beginning a Charlotte Mason Preschool
Day 2:  Nature Study for Curious Preschoolers
Day 3:  Introducing Handicrafts to your Preschooler
Day 4:  Fine Arts for Preschoolers
Day 5:  Living Books for Preschoolers

Now I'm sure there are more articles you wanted to read, so head back on over to the Crew Blog Hop, but remember to stop in tomorrow for a discussion on art!

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  1. Great ideas! I am pinning this to my "handicrafts" board:)

  2. Great ideas! We try to do lots of handicrafts in our home. Right now sewing on a hoop has been a hit :)

    1. That sounds fun. We are trying soap carving next!

  3. Awesome ideas! I'm pinning this to my "things to do with my toddler" board for future reference!

    1. Awesome! I think the preschool years are a great time to introduce new activities, because they're so eager to learn!

  4. My son learned a little about leatherwork with his Papa last year when we visited them. I've purchased a beginner's kit here and he's looking forward to doing some more ;-) Fun crafts are great, but it's also great to have skills and products that will take you into adulthood.

    1. Leather work looks interesting, and it's on my list of things to try with my son in the near future!