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Arts and Crafts Buying Guide

Arts and Crafts offer a world of fresh, fun learning and skill-building opportunities. Activities that promote self-expression build a child’s self-confidence and encourage her to take creative risks and foster abstract thinking—skills that lead to success in academics and life!

All innovation starts with a unique perspective, which is what kids will learn to develop as they work through arts and crafts projects. Great inventions, scientific theory, technology, writing, philosophy and even public policy all start with an inspired idea. Creativity is the foundation of everything human, and kids who practice creative thinking early in life are building the confidence that could influence our future!

There is a lot to consider when shopping for art kits for kids. This quick guide is a great place to start when trying to decide what kits are best.

Features to Consider

Different art activities emphasize different ways to create. Does your child like everything she makes to turn out just like the picture on the box? Or, would she rather make her own rules than follow the directions? Both ways of working are beneficial—there’s no wrong way to create! When shopping for arts and crafts kits consider which type of activity will be the most fun for your child. But also, consider which of her artistic abilities and skills could use a brush-up. Some kids need encouragement to break free from the rules, while others benefit from the focus required when following directions.

Following the Directions
  • Activities that ask kids to follow a specific series of steps help them develop patience.
  • The ability to understand and follow directions is an important skill for children in school, at home, and in life.
  • Activities that encourage children to follow directions might include paint by number kits, mosaic arts, specific coloring or activity books, weaving, and sewing.
  • For younger children, these activities may require adult supervision or adult demonstrations.
Open-Ended Projects
  • Open-ended projects allow children the most creative freedom as they develop independent thought through unstructured creation.
  • Younger children enjoy unstructured art projects like finger painting, coloring, drawing, cutting, and gluing.
  • Adults can be as uninvolved or involved as they like with open-ended crafts—stand back and watch them go or offer tips and suggestions.
  • Open-ended art projects allow kids to explore their own imaginations and ideas.

Some Age Group Suggestions

3- and 4-year-olds
  • Alex Little Hands Art Kits
  • Modified cutting, lacing, finger painting, and coloring activities
  • Simple art supplies and art sets
5 and 6-year-olds
  • Creativity for Kids Kits
  • Alex Kits
  • Sticky Mosaics Kits
  • Stamp sets and thumb print art
7 and 8-year-olds
  • Bead and Jewelry Kits
  • Sewing and Knitting Crafts
  • Sticky Mosaics Kits Kits
9-year olds and up
  • Bead and Jewelry Kits
  • Fashion Design Kits
  • Instructional drawing activities

Where Will They Use It? (Play Environment)

When shopping for art kits, consider how much space will be available for completing the project. Will you need to cover a table or work outside? Be aware the finished product is going to have to be stored somewhere, or better yet, be put on display!

Ways for Adults to Play/ Adult Involvement

Crafting with young children takes some patience. Make sure you have enough time to work on a project and take frequent breaks if your child is becoming distracted or disinterested before the activity is complete. Also, young children are not as concerned with how well they finish the projects as with the process – let them explore, “make mistakes,” and approach the project in their own way.

Allow your child to do as much as she can by herself with you standing by for assistance or for anything that may be a safety concern. She’ll learn more if she has to work through problems on her own. But for young children, be sure that an adult or older sibling does any cutting, stapling or super-gluing.

Developmental Benefits

Physical Benefits
From toddlers to teens, kids develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they cut, color, draw, or paint. As the projects demand more precision, the artist develops greater control of her tools and hands. When shopping for art kits that improve physical coordination, look for age appropriate crafts that will allow your child to improve with practice.

Spatial Learning Benefits
As kids observe and translate the world into images, designs and ideas, they make new and surprising discoveries about shadows, light, form, and color. Visual perception is not a constant between individuals and an artist will begin to see differently as she studies.

Interpersonal Benefits
There are plenty of art kits with enough supplies for a small group! Kids love crafting together. They share ideas and excitement for the project. Sharing limited supplies like glue sticks, scissors, and markers will teach kids to cooperate and slow them down so they don’t rush through projects as quickly!

Intrapersonal Benefits
There are times in all our lives when we need to be alone and rely on ourselves for entertainment and stimulation. In childhood, the times spent alone working on a special art project give kids peace, memories, and the mental strength to be independent. A productive mind, nurtured through a childhood of creativity, is better prepared for happiness throughout the ups and downs of life.

Types of Play

Creative Play
Creative expression is a healthy outlet for mental energy and emotions. Although open-ended art activities like painting, drawing, and sculpture may require more independent thought from the young artist, all arts and crafts kits allow kids to make creative choices. The more kids develop their natural creativity in childhood, the better prepared they’ll be for the challenges of adulthood.

Quiet Play
Kits that require more concentration are more apt to yield quiet play. When looking for quiet craft activities make sure that your child can complete all the steps with minimal help. Drawing activities, coloring books, and painting activities are great for making quiet play.

Dramatic Play
Kids love to display their work around a room and hold a pretend gallery opening for parents and friends. But that’s only one way that dramatic play can work with arts and crafts! For dramatic play with an artful twist look for kits that provide a play toy when completed. There are kits that allow kids to decorate a plush doll, build a puppet theater, make a cardboard castle, and create many other pretend play toys. Or, children are given the opportunity to pretend they are a “real artist” or fashion designer with the latest and greatest kits in these more specific fields.

Manipulative Play
Arts and Crafts are all about manipulative play! Everything you find in this department will develop motor skills and help children master hand-eye coordination – from developing gross motor skills in younger children to fine motor skills with more advanced kits.