From toddlers to teens to senior citizens, crafting is an exciting, creative experience that offers pleasure and fulfillment. For children, crafts free the creative spirit and set a life-long pattern for imaginative thinking. For the handicapped or learning disabled, crafts are a non-threatening way to learn new skills and discover the pride of accomplishment. For adolescents, art helps define the self they dream of becoming and can act as a means for rebuilding self-confidence. Crafts can also be especially helpful for senior citizens and can forge a sense of community and renew a sense of self-worth.
There are many important things to keep in mind while choosing the right activities for your group. Before planning, ask yourself these questions:
Are the materials safe and non-toxic?
Consider whether your group may be susceptible to sharp edges or tiny pieces, glue or paint that may be swallowed.
Can the tools and materials be manipulated without frustration?
Small children, the handicapped, the recovering patient and the elderly may not have enough muscle control or dexterity to successfully participate in some activities. Big pencils, jumbo crayons, large needles and self-closing scissors are available and will make their projects more rewarding.
Will my group be able to complete the project without too much help from me?
Any craft that requires too much interventions from you will quickly lose its appeal. It is important to offer your help and guidance, but don’t take over.
Does the project encourage originality rather than imitation?
Whatever age or skill level you’re working with, group members will be more rewarded if the creative process and final product reflects their own ideas and imagination
Below is a list of supplies we’ve come up with that will equip your program with enough variety to challenge all age and ability levels.
Large Paper (Manila, Newsprint, Construction)
Dry, Liquid or Solid Tempera Paints
Stiff and Soft Bristle Brushes
Felt and other fabrics
Be sure your work surfaces and seating are the appropriate height for your group. Set aside space for storage. It’s easier to return everything to its place when there’s a place for everything! Provide a display area for finished projects, where everyone can admire their own and everyone else’s accomplishments. Use cork board for paintings, a small shelf for sculptures, a few hooks for mobiles and suncatchers, or several easels that fold when not in use. Use newspapers liberally – cover tables and even floors with several layers so that cleaning up is literally just gathering up everything and disposing. It’s important to also teach the proper care of materials, such as capping paints and glues and washing brushes before they are put away.