Mommy on a Shoestring: Why arts and crafts matter

I always knew crafting was good for the soul, but new research shows that it’s good for brain development too, especially when it comes to young children.

In a recent study, commissioned by Elmer’s Products Inc., developmental psychologist Dr. Richard Rende spoke with over 300 moms and 50 child development experts to explore the effect of arts and crafts on a child’s development. His findings are fascinating, though not surprising, as Rende found that “art and craft activities can bolster cognitive development (especially the coordination between the left and right sides of the brain), improve fine motor skills, promote social interactions and strengthen language skills.”

As a mom, I have seen first hand how arts and craft projects have given my child a creative outlet to work out issues, build self-confidence and discover innovative ways to use materials. And although some projects have not been hits (especially the one he flushed down the toilet), I know that crafting together has been a wonderfully rich experience for us both. So as we inch closer to school, I wanted to share a few easy crafts that kids and parents can do together.

Glue Batik Print

Although this project is designed for kids, it’s equally satisfying for adults, yielding lovely batik prints that will add character to any room.

You need:

Light colored fabric (I used a heavy, cotton upholstery fabric)

Glue gel (available at office supply and craft stores)

Non-toxic acrylic paint and paintbrush

Directions:

Place fabric on a flat surface and start drawing your design with the glue. Set aside to dry.

Paint the fabric with acrylic paint, being sure to cover the entire area. Set aside to dry.

Use warm water to wash the glue out of the fabric. You’ll notice that as the glue washes away, the batik pattern will appear.

Personalized Collage

This “oldie-but-goodie” activity is great to do with your kids, especially if you commit to doing it year after year. Personalized collages give your children the opportunity to express who they are right now, and as they get older, they’ll be happy to look back on these projects and see how their tastes and interests have changed.

In our house, my son makes a personalized collage every summer. Rather than using magazines or pictures, we go through his old school work and he picks out the assignments he wants to highlight. It’s a great way to reminisce, reflect and celebrate all his hard work. It also helps get rid of old papers because everything that doesn’t make the collage, gets “filed” in the garbage.

Glue Goo

Fun, tactile and not to be flushed down the toilet, this messy project is great on those days you just want to keep little fingers busy, but be warned — it’s fun for parents too!

You need:

1-Cup liquid starch

½ Cup white glue

Food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a clear plastic container, which you can also use to store the goo. Adding food coloring is optional but it’s fun to see the colors swirl together and change as you add different colors. Then cover a table with wax paper and let your kids play. When done, put the goo in container, cover container and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Happy Crafting!

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