Friday, April 19, 2013

Crafts with Purpose: Lasting Crafts that Teach and Grow

Crafting with a Purpose

I am not a big fan of your typical preschool-ish crafts. Why?
  • They take a long time to plan, prepare, do, and clean up after, but don't have much lasting value for the effort put forth.
  • There may be some temporary benefits to the activity (small motor skills development, sensory experiences), but these benefits can be achieved by other, much simpler and less time-consuming ways.
  • I hate clutter, and they create a lot of clutter.
  • I also hate being wasteful, and throwing away something that you put so much effort into seems pretty wasteful.
So what is my solution to this? Never doing crafts? No. But the crafts I like to do are a little "different", and have to meet certain criteria.
When I do a craft its purpose is to teach a concept and serve as a visual aid in further learning.
What do I mean by this? Take for example, this craft we did about the seasons:
  Learning About the Tilt of the Earth

This met my description of teaching a concept and having a lasting learning purpose as a visual aid for further discussion and instruction.
  • While we were assembling the craft we were able to talk about the concepts being introduced (the tilt of the earth and how it makes seasons by giving different amounts of sunlight at different times of year; how seasons are opposite when you are in different hemispheres; the names of equinoxes and solstices and what they mean; the concept of a center axis of the earth, and much more)
  • When the craft is finished, it serves as a visual reminder of these many concepts that we introduced for months or even years to come. When further discussions come up, we can refer to the craft (which we used as a poster). It is not something that has a purpose for an hour and then gets thrown away as it is no longer needed later.
Some benefits of doing this as a craft, rather than referring to a pre made illustration:
  • While we assembled the craft, it really reinforced the learning in a hands-on, deep way.
  • The child is very proud of the creation that he made, and it will be very special and meaningful to him (and therefore, further encourage learning, discovering, memory, and discussion). 
 This is what I am going for when I go to all the time and effort of putting together and executing a craft! Here are some other examples of crafts that fit this description:

Days of creation craft

This days of creation craft to help in memorizing the order of the Genesis 1 chronology.

Galaxies craft 10-03

Learning about the different types of galaxies.

Sun craft 10-03 002

Learning about the sun and solar storms: prominences, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, sun spots, and more.

Star classification craft 10-03

Learning about star classification.

Color wheel craft

Learning about the color wheel, the concept of color order, primary and secondary colors, and so on.

Passover Placemat

A passover placemat to learn about history and religion.

We've done many activities like this, and I know both of us are really proud of the end result: definitely more meaningful and worth our time.

What kind of "crafting" parent are you? Are you a big fan of the typical preschool slew of cute crafts, do you avoid crafts all together, or do you do certain "crafts with a lasting purpose" as mentioned here? Would love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. 2013/04/19 at 7:15 pm

    As always your thoughts on teaching are worth reading. When you teach your kids, which subjects do you decide to teach them at their different ages, and which books do you use?

    They grow so quick – how do you keep up? I’m a newly farther to a 3 months-old, and she’s almost learning faster than we can keep up with, and I imagine her learning (and our required reading) will only keep accelerating.

    A correction to the hebrew letters “Pesach”: The Pe looks more like a Kaph, and the Heth is mistakenly written as a He, but to the untrained eye they do look alike – but still quite impressive for a 7 year old!


Thank you for your comments!