Crafting with Kids on Purpose

By August 15, 2012General, Get Inspired

This post from monthly contributor Lara Williams

We have a new craft room. (And no, I’m not Martha Stewartish, only a wanna-be.) Basically I was tired of glue sticks and foam sheets and tape hanging out in every spare corner of every closet. So we took out the guest bed, shifted things around, and consolidated all craft-related items into one space. Love it.

There’s only one problem. My kids make these marker-covered crafts and most times they end up…in the trash. Yep. The landfill. So in essence we’re flushing money down the toilet. It’s just in the form of wooden sticks decorated with colorful pom-poms.

That bothered me. Because I don’t like to waste money — not that having fun is always a waste of money. But everything we have is God’s and I want to honor Him, even with our glue and tissue paper. So we’ve decided to be more purposeful in our craft projects. My daughter even changed the name of the room to the Kindness Project room.

 

 
I figure, if we’re going to make stuff — and they love to make stuff — then we might as well do it on purpose. We might as well show love to others in the process.

Here are a few purposeful craft ideas that I’ve modified/discovered/hijacked:

 

  1. Make flowers out of foam paper with Rice Crispy treats in the center. (Pictured above.) Write a verse on the front. Glue a wooden stick on the back of each. And then go “plant them” in someone’s yard. (Modified from an image I saw here.)
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  3. Make cards for the sick or elderly that go to your church, especially those who can no longer come to service due to physical limitations. Deliver them to their home (or nursing home or hospital) with your kids. (Mine have loved doing these this summer!)
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  5. Make a Terra Cotta pot apple container filled with chocolate for your child’s teacher. I would probably write something like “Praying for you today!” on the front…and then remember (imperfectly) to pray for them. (Plus who doesn’t want a place to hide a secret stash of chocolate.)
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  7. Decorate a jar and fill it with thirty slips of paper that each have a word of encouragement, verse, or prayer written on them. Older children can type these out on the computer. Younger children can help cut and fold the strips of paper. Give to a grandparent or family friend, especially one going through a difficult time.
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  9. Paint and decorate a box (i.e. shoe box or wooden craft box), and put three envelopes or jars inside with the words “save,” “give,” and “spend” written on the outside of each. When the kids get allowance, they can learn to give some, spend some, and save some.
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    Now it’s your turn, because believe me I need your help. What other thoughtful craft ideas do you have? Click here to share in the comments!
     

    About Lara
    Speaker and writer, Lara Williams lives in central North Carolina with her husband and three young children. Click here to check out her blog.

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Comments

21 Comments

  • Avatar Heather says:

    These are great ideas! It is definitely hard to throw away all that stuff that they make, and we do our share (as well as several neighbors’ shares). I am just getting past the “it’s ok if it makes a mess” stage, so this will be next on my list!

    • I totally get that, Heather. I don’t like messes. They can completely stress me out. Which is probably why I hide any and all glitter that comes into our home. Baby steps. Ha.

  • Avatar Caroline T says:

    Love these ideas! Thank you for sharing. I will definitely be doing some of these.

    Lara, do you (or anyone else) have any ideas for celebrating Advent? I really want to make the build up to Christmas meaningful this year, but am starting from scratch.

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      Caroline,
      HelloMornings team member, Amanda from http://impressyourkids.org/ wrote a really great ebook filled with Advent craft ideas and a specific plan. I’m sure I’ll have her write about it here soon or you can click over to her blog to find out more.

    • Avatar Moe says:

      In reference to Advent, we are going to do a Jesse Tree ( http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/2010/11/jesse-tree-readings-coloring-pages-for.html) . This will take a little bit of prep on Mom’s part, but I did a Jesus Tree for Lent ( http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/search/label/Jesus%20Tree) and that was quite a bit more work…but one it’s done…you will have it for years. But each day we will do a reading and a coloring page then about a week before christmas, when my wall is full of coloring pages, i will remove the pages from the wall and tuck them in with our christmas letter to family and friends. We did this at Easter and my little girls (then 1.5 & 2.5) still remember the story of Jesus calming the stormy storm. When we color any pictures with Jesus in them now, they immediately know who Jesus is in the picture. We are not Catholic, but I have found both of those resources extremely helpful and a gret way to start a family tradition.

    • Avatar Lizzy says:

      A few years ago we made our own nativity scene. A painted sheet of card with stars and ribbon angels glued on made a great backdrop. Cardboard tubes, cotton balls, and plenty of glue can be used to make the characters in the scene. It was a great way to spend time together and a great place to start talking about all the different elements of the Christmas story.

  • Avatar Kat Lee says:

    I love this Lara! The house next door to mine is for sale, I’m thinking you need to move in.

    So, I don’t have lots of crafty ideas. Shocking, I know. But one thing we like to do is record videos for people. If a friend is sick, the kids will play a song and I’ll record it on my phone and email the video.

    I’ll have to try some of these ideas too. I know my kids would love them!

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    Love this! I’m doing the declutter challenge over at Keeper of the Home and there was a day we were to declutter the kids’ artwork. I’m saving it for the end so that we can sort through and see if we can pass some drawings along to the elderly who lives at the senior living center where my BIL works. Love crafts at Sunday School, MOPS, storytime and Lakeshore, but they do take up a lot of space and I don’t want them to end up in the trash so quickly.

  • Avatar Katie says:

    These are fantastic ideas! I’ve been stuck on a back-to-school gift for teachers this year, I am totally making those apples. Too cute! (And I love what you did with the sunshine cookie flowers!!

  • Avatar Yvonne says:

    Making paper crafts for our Compassion kids is always a great way to use that creativity bug for a good purpose! We just make country flags for our kids out of construction paper.

  • Avatar DramaMama says:

    Have you heard of Craft Hope? Here’s a link to their FB page – last I heard their website was having troubles. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Craft-Hope/105243509513568) Each month they choose a different organization/charity/cause to make crafts for. The projects are collected and donated. It might be something easy like a scarf or sock monkey, or something a bit more complicated like an apron or quilt. (Those are complicated for me anyways!) I know they have already published a book full of project ideas! Please check them out b/c it sounds like it would be perfect for your family to work on together! And thanks for the re-inspiration to keep my kids crafting for a purpose =)

  • I blogged on a similar theme around Valentines Day with ideas of gifts kids can make. Here is the link: http://honeycombadventures.com/2012/02/gifts-children-can-make/

  • Avatar Catherine Story says:

    Love this! One of the thing I do to help the landfill issue is this: I bought a clear plastic table cloth- from the fabric section in Walmrt, sold by the yard….then put all of the fabulous paintings drawing etc underneath to be displayed. My son is very proud of his work and it makes for awesome dinner conversation!

  • Avatar Jane says:

    I love that your heart behind these projects is not just creative expression, but an opportunity to bless. Thanks for hijacking and sharing so many wonderful ways to be a light to others!

  • Avatar Lizzy says:

    My kids don’t get pocket money so for Christmas last year I encouraged them to make something for each other. My eldest loves drawing so we stapled a few sheets of paper together and with the addition of a few original artworks, he made his little brother a colouring book. He also loves to make cards for everybody.

    For those of us who are drowning in paintings and drawings and not sure what to do with them: they make really great wrapping paper on gifts for grandparents and aunts and uncles :o)

  • Avatar jennifer jackson says:

    Just discovered this gorgeous site. My girls, 8 and 3 love to make batches of lavender pouches. A 15cm circle of fabric a spoonful of lavender tied up with a pretty length of ribbon or twine. Great as little thinking of you gifts.

  • Avatar Caroline says:

    I do the same thing! We have sent artwork to friends and family; we have sent “hugs” in the mail to grandparents (two hands traced and cut out attached to a piece of ribbon) and handmade get well cards. I think it’s the perfect solution. I like the idea of the flowers and will probably steal that at some point. 🙂

  • […] have an over-abundance of artwork around here. I love these ideas for Crafting with purpose over at Inspired to […]

  • Avatar Katherine says:

    You don’t need to create with paper. You can have kids create with homemade playdough, paint with water, decorate the window with foam pieces that are a bit damp. Think of ways to use materials in a creative way that can be reused. You can also have create works of art from recycled materials and then if the projects needs to go away it can be recycled.

    I saw a great idea for the Christmas season. Have 24 bags with little gifts, ornaments, sayings of the season, books to read, etc. in them and open one each night.

  • Avatar Urbantemplates says:

    Making your crafts edible is one of the best ways to prevent it being wasted. More intent crafts, ie cards are also always good. We have been giving our crafts away, for similar reasons. Throwing all that work and material way is heartbreaking.