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Crash Course in Art and Craft For Dads

Yeah, you can stop those excuses right now. It's really not that hard to offer your kids something more than TV on a rainy day

Craft idea for kids

It's rare, very rare that dads do art and craft with their kids at home. Whether it's something you've always left to their mum or something that you think only belongs in school, it just doesn't happen, and it should. So here is a crash course in art and craft for dads.

Children love to do art and craft, they love to use their imagination and create, they love to get messy and learn from their experiences about the way different materials can be used for so many different things. It's excellent for developing their fine motor skills, problem solving and is simply a rewarding activity, especially when you join in with them yourself.

But it's so much easier to stick the TV on or give them an iPad to entertain themselves with isn't it. Of course there's time for such things like TV and other less creative pursuits but they shouldn't be the only go to activities for your children.

When dads have to entertain their kids, there are plenty of things for them to do. Taking them out to the park, river, beach or another outdoor place for a play is fantastic and the more you can get your children out and active the better. But there are many times when you're at home because of bad weather, sickness, time constraints or just busy with juggling various everyday life tasks. It's in these times you need to be a little more creative than using electronic devices and toys. Whilst there's also Lego, reading, boardgames and other things that aren't screen based, a bit of creative art and craft is a must for the everyday super dad to be doing with their kids.

Now when I say art and craft, I'm not talking about you grabbing a couple of sheets of white A4 paper out the printer and that dusty box of half working felt pens and broken pencils. This is probably your usual idea about art and craft at home. I'm talking about creative, make and do activities that'll be untidy and yes maybe be a little bit messy, but stick with me and I'll show you how to best manage and organise these activities so you'll be willing to give them a go.

Before anything else you'll need some resources and whilst it might initially seem like a lot, it can be done quite easily and inexpensively and the rewards outweigh the effort.

Kids doing art and craft

What You Need

So take yourself down to the newsagent, 'dollar/cheap' shop or order online. Somewhere that sells all these types of things. Check the list below for what you'll need. You'll probably need to spend $50-$100 but it'll last a long time and you could always put it together as a birthday or Christmas present. You might not be able to get all of the things in one place and might even see some other stuff that you want to get too. Anyway, off you go, come back when you're done...

  • Colour pencils

  • crayons

  • felt pens

  • boxes of small and big chalk

  • white and colour paper

  • white and colour card

  • scissors

  • sticky tape

  • glue stick

  • PVA glue

  • pencil sharpener

  • hot glue gun

  • bag of matchsticks (not live ones)

  • bag of paddle pop sticks (colour/plain)

  • bag of 'googly' eyes

  • water paint and paint brushes kits

  • plasticine or modelling clay

  • ball of string

  • pipe cleaners

  • drinking straws

  • ball/balls of wool

  • paper plates

  • paper cups

  • plastic storage tub with lid

  • zip lock bags of different sizes

  • takeaway food containers

  • *also worth hanging onto empty shoe boxes, toilet and cardboard rolls, buttons, beer bottle caps, egg cartons, corks etc.

N.B. There are so many other resources that you'll find useful. As you find specific activities you'd like to do, you may need to collect some other things.

Ok, you're back. Now you want to fit all the stuff in the storage tub. Put all the bits and pieces into the takeaway containers and zip lock bags and any other way you can to keep it organised. It's important to this because different activities will call for different materials and it'll be easier to get what you need without rummaging through a box of mess. I would not suggest dumping the full box of stuff in front of a couple of young children and expecting it to be useable again. They'll get everything out, spread it everywhere and then leave it.

Now What?

Have a talk with them about what's in the box and what it's for. Of course older children will hopefully get to the point where they can just use the box for whatever they like, but for the younger ones you'll want to find specific activities for them to make. The activity will also depend on the level of support required by you, so choose the activity based on how much time you want to spend doing the activity with them versus leaving them to their own devices.

It's worth noting that in this kit I've listed hot glue guns. These are great for making things out of paddle pop sticks and matchsticks but wouldn't recommend children under 8 using them and even then they'll need some supervision and precautions so you don't end up in running body parts under cold water, a trip to the ER or having to call the fire brigade.

Now you'll need to choose a location. You can use things like collapsable tables you might have for camping, or an old table you have in the shed. You might have a kids table already in the garden or something. Chances are though it'll have to be the dining table or kitchen bench. I suggest you have some kind of protection over it for things like spills, paint, glue etc. For this I'd suggest some 'oil cloth'. Oil cloth is a plastic style table cloth. It's great because it's cheap, you can buy it by the metre to cover a whole table, it's waterproof so can be wiped clean and rolled up for easy storage. Alternatively, use newspaper or a piece of wood or cardboard if you like. When using things like glue (especially hot glue guns) I find old table placemats are great because they're easy to clean and won't burn as readily.

Doesn't Seem So Hard

Hopefully this is all starting to sound a bit less daunting because really the only big worry you should have is being prepared and organised. The activities themselves will be a breeze after that (providing you pick activities suitable for your the ages of your kids).

Art and craft activity

Time to Craft

Ok, so as for the activities themselves. Well, there are thousands. Too many to list here. I'll provide some links to good sites for activities and you'll find some other articles on my website with some, so check back regularly. There are also some great books with tons of art and craft activities that you can get to put into the storage box (or borrow one from the library) so you're never short on ideas.

Craft ideas for toddlers

Craft ideas for children

So don't be afraid, give your child the gift of fun, learning and creativity that isn't on a screen. The only excuse you have is lazy parenting.

kids painting salt dough objects

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