Craft time is a very important part of most toddler groups, for both children and adults.
Children love creating things – even if the only thing they seem to be expert in is the art of making a mess! However, craft isn’t just about entertaining the children in your group. It’s also a first-hand learning experience – something that plays a part in their early education and development.
As such it fulfils some, if not all, of the criteria in the Foundation Stage Curriculum. The criteria are as follows:
- Personal, social and emotional development (PSE).
- Communication, language and literacy.
- Problem solving, numeracy and reasoning.
- Knowledge and understanding of the world.
- Physical development.
- Creative development.
It’s easy to understand how craft fits the ‘creative development’ requirement, but with a little thought we can see that it also meets the other criteria. With regard to ‘physical development’ toddlers will develop their fine motor skills through crayoning, cutting and sticking.
Experiencing a range of materials expands their ‘knowledge and understanding of the world’. Sharing equipment and working on a single project together will involve ‘PSE development’, whilst discussing their work requires ‘communication and language’.
Finally, it is also possible to include numeracy if you encourage the children to count the items they have used or patterns they have made. Maximise the educational value of craft time by giving the children a chance to develop their imaginations. Some crafts may look beautiful when assembled ‘properly’, but this may be at the cost of the child’s full involvement.
A well-designed craft will be attractive, but also allow the child to make their own choices – of colours and patterns, for example. As we said at the beginning, craft time is important for the children, but can also be valuable in different ways for the adults in your group.
Many parents shy away from making crafts at home because they don’t feel artistic enough or they dislike the mess. They do, however, appreciate the opportunity to experiment with glitter, paint and Play Doh outside their own home!
Encouraging the parents and carers to help with preparation and cutting out is a great way of involving them in and becoming a part of the group. It also shows them that doing craft at home doesn’t need to be complicated.
It’s an opportunity for you to help parents and carers to develop their children’s communication skills. Encourage them to ask the children open-ended questions that need more than a yes or no answer (for example, rather than asking, “What is it?” say, “Tell me about your picture”).
Craft time, in an otherwise noisy session, can provide quieter moments that may allow you to chat with the parents.