The Ultimate Art and Craft Box / Kit !

How to diy art and craft kitThis is a simple post about helping Moms, new Moms, creative and Non-creative Moms understand, how you can get alittle organized beforehand and make beautiful memories while your little one enjoys spending that special time with you.

I’ve been a craft artist for nearly two decades. I love crafting. It is not only my passion, but it also completes me.

“Crafts” is a tiny term which encompasses a whole range of activities.  Unfortunately most of us, tend to associate it with painting or drawing or probably alittle bit of cutting.  But that’s not necessarily all that there’s to it.

I’ve taught in a couple of schools but several prestigious art institutes.  I’ve held Mother & Toddler classes, Workshop for ladies and classes for youngsters as well.

Today, in this post, I will address one concern that most moms have echoed over the years to me, how they find themselves all over the place when it comes to having some craft time with the kids.

There are 4 things, I’d like for you to remember before we address the craft dilemma :-

  • Please hold your ‘fun craft time’ – as a time to explore new activities TOGETHER. It is a time when you actually MAKE MEMORIES – its supposed to be FUN. Not a task.
  • Please know, that NO ART WORK is ever “COMPLETE OR PERFECT” – it is ALL in THE PROCESS.
  • Please remember, appreciate your child’s effort, no matter how tiny. He is trying to please YOU as well.
  • Long after they have grown, they will still cherish these priceless moments. So don’t try to work on making it “Perfect”.  Remember, “its the imperfection that adds character.”

Here are some of the issues  :-

  1. Insufficient tools
  2. Inadequate know-how
  3. Unaware of places to shop at for supplies
  4. lack of energy to drive around to places for supplies
  5. Packed craft kits are expensive
  6. Packed craft kits have limited supplies

So, I’ve decided to address all of these 6 issues one by one.

FYI, One of my most visited blog post is where-do-you-buy-craft-supplies-from-in-dubai

Moms who have toddlers in their troublesome twos, realize that children need various activities besides toys, to keep them stimulated.  Hence in a desperate attempt to help the little one, they grab the first craft kit that they come across in the supermarket aisle.  However, I agree that most craft kits are aimed at a specific activity and supplies are really limited.

I’m going to advise you on how you can ease the process of crafting with your toddler/little one.

Please remember, children are not just visual learners. They learn by touch, feel, smell, sight, sound and THE PROCESS !

For the first 5 years of their life, they are still getting the hang of the hand and eye coordination – gross motor skills.

They are virtually charged 10 hours of the day to play, practice and have fun.  Thru it all, they are LEARNING.

Adapting to their environment and understanding their own movements.

Let us consider a routine scenario.

Our young first-time-Mum watches this youtube video about 5 easy crafts to try out with little Sarah.  (point2 addressed) [Google and Youtube videos ‘can be” a new Mom’s best friend since they can guide you tremendously around the process of crafting with kids]

She thinks its easy enough to try it out with her little one.  She rushes to the nearest Toy store and searches high & low for a craft kit for toddlers ! { point3 – this mom had the strength and enthusiasm to drive to the Toy store. Full marks to her but (point4) not all of us drive or have a store close by, hence we can buy online as well } Refer here

Realization – most crafts kits are aimed at children older than 5 years !!  Heaps of toys are available – but not craft kits !

FYI – one of the reasons for this is that alot of craft supplies have small objects which can cause choking hazard for little ones and companies do not want to risk getting into such waters.

Ofcourse you can opt out and buy one of those ridiculously expensive painting kits with sponges and fancy brushes (Point 5 is valid and real)  But then of course, Mom can splurge over little Sarah.

So Mom buys it and brings it at home – 2 days of fun and mess later, chances are a few of the brushes ‘may’ have gone missing under the sofa, the paint tub is all but nearly over and our little Sarah has decided, she’s had enough of Mona Lisa. (point6) Most little children have a short attention span. Give them easy crafts to work with. They may work with one painting but once its over, they need something different. 

This is where little Sarah is restless and Mom is getting frustrated too as her she realizes these craft activities are probably not her cup of tea !!

THIS IS WHERE I STEP IN !! Don’t fret and fume Mama.  Read on …. there is relief for you.

We’re going to assemble the ULTIMATE ART AND CRAFT BOX for you so that every time, you want to try out an activity with your child, all you have to do is, spread the ‘drip sheet’ on your table or work space and get the supplies you need, out and voila ! Start your crafting adventure !! You never know – you might discover you really like crafts 🙂

First thing –  Chances are, you might already be having a plastic box, bucket, basket or a large container at home. Its best if it could be large and preferably with a lid. In fact, the large transparent bin with wheels from IKEA is most ideal for this purpose.  Here are a few options :

Here are some of the most basic supplies :-

I highly encourage little children who are still developing their gross motor skills to use crayons or color pencils rather than colored markers.

Please remember, a scribble made by a 2 year old, might be an entire story from his imagination. Hence please appreciate it and ask him/her questions relating to that. See how his/her eyes sparkle as he describes 3 stories from one picture !!

Avoid buying large A3 size drawing books becoz children tend to use only a partial amount of space. Infact, I keep photocopier sheets handy, which can later be framed or placed in protector sleeves and hung up on the fridge or their study desks.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the humble rubberband.  Also remember to pack a few of the large black paper clips.

Alot of crafts ask for pipecleaners too. From acting as the stem of a flower, to the antenae of a butterfly, pipecleaners/chenille have plenty of uses.

Several crafts require drinking straws. They are colorful, they are easy to manipulate and children associate blowing air or making bubbles with them.

Long after the clothes have been dried, these clothespin will be super handy in the craft box. From the body of an insect to decorating a recycled jam jar, there are endless uses of this innovative creation. An absolute Must-have for our craft box.

Styrofoam balls come in various sizes. Apart from the easy snow man, you will find several sites full of ideas on how to use these, creatively.

Below, you will find tiny sparkling stars in packets,  pipecleaners which are plain and sparkly, styrofoam balls, childproof scissors and glitter tubes.  I would definitely include all of these EXCEPT GLITTER tubes.  They are a highly messy idea and I would prefer the children to be atleast 6 years old  before they get their hands on glitter.

I absolutely LOVE this bumper kit. You could buy the items individually or just add 2 packets of these in our craft box and Voila !  Tip – These could be included as return gifts for birthday parties too !!

If you are not able to get crepe paper, the below tissue gift wrap paper will do the trick just as well. Most crafts for tiny toddlers revolves around tearing bits of pieces of these sheets and sticking it to various items.

I don’t think, any craft kit can be complete without a Sharpie marker. Although the below marker is NOT a sharpie, I think, it might do the job ! Traditionally these are alcohol based hence you can use these to draw on plastic and metal.

The value pack with 25 pieces is ideal.  It is always advisable to use the thicker paint brushes for children.  Don’t expect little fingers to hold tiny brushes. These kits with sponge faces are also fun for little ones. Just drop alittle paint in a paper plate and dab the sponge for endless hours of fun !!

These alphabet stampers are good when you want kindergarten children to practice remembering their alphabets OR sounds. It takes the stress off, from having to write. But they are optional.

 

  • Every mothers nightmare is the aftermath of an art and craft activity – This drop sheet should be able to solve that issue, Mom !

Just spread it on the table or floor and use the spring clamp (in the below picture) to hold it tight to an object, alternatively, you can use the white and blue striped sheet rolls, available in supermarkets. They too are efficient.
One fun item I would include would have to be these Ketchup dispenser bottles.

Use ? – You can find several recipes for puffy paint and these bottles are perfect for squeezing the paint and designing with.

Here are some more tips.

  • A glue gun is a handy tool (almost an essential item for every Crafter) . However, it can be introduced to  children once they are over 10 or 11 years of age.
  • When working with little children, use only paper masking tape. Not the plastic kind.
  • Please don’t buy the plastic scissors for toddlers. It practically NEVER works.
  • If you want to know which is the best brand for erasers and sharpners, kindly subscribe to my blog for the next post which will have details on various brands.
  • Over the years, I have realized, aprons don’t help all that much. It inhibits their movement and if anything, the plastic rubbing against eachother is a bother to most kids. Just get them dressed in one of your husband’s old Tshirts !
  • Red, blue and yellow are primary colors, inorder to attain any other color, you just have to mix, any two of these two colors.  So you don’t need a dozen tubs of colors. A few will do.
  • I have compiled this list considering almost all homes have paper staplers and paper punches !

So there you have it !

All the pictures in this post were taken at Dollar Plus. *However please note,  this post is not in affiliation with them. I am NOT being compensated by ANY Dollar store for this post.

When I share my experience or any information with you over here – it is done purely to help, moms, teachers, crafters, students and people who don’t have the time or energy to research these avenues.  I have NOTHING to gain from it except perhaps some appreciation from people who leave kind words of gratitude in the comments.

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Creative Craft Mornings

Over the past several years, my skills have evolved.  I feel a sense of satisfaction after every completed project. Sometimes, even a little disappointed after a failed completed project – never the less, just the sheer joy of being able to create something with my own hands is exhilarating.

Till the period we were living at Arabian Ranches, I held craft workshop for ladies and art classes for children. That was, till 5 years back.  And then we moved to Al Warqa.

I missed my routine friendly creative exchanges with ladies and the young ones too.

There is such immense joy, when you have been instrumental in helping someone discover a latent talent.

Hence, moving to The Villa – Dubailand, gave me the opportunity to restart my workshops.

It was one of the best things about 2017, for me – CCM (creative craft mornings).

I was conducting craft workshops for women at my villa.

After a hiatus of nearly 5 years, I restarted this initiative and I was overwhelmed by the response.

In Dubai, we have sewing/quilt/crochet clubs, and we have quilling/papercrafting classes, however, I feel, there are far too many crafts that cannot be categorized and thats exactly, what I was offering.

There were ladies from the age group of 22 right upto 72 years !!  These were ladies, who had the zest to learn, inspite of busy schedules and running a hectic lifestyle, between career and family.   Ladies, who had to pick children from school, prepare a meal, manage their homes, attend meetings and yet they believed in giving the workshop, a chance.

I prefer to address all of them as my friends, rather than my students becoz, in essence, I learnt more from them than I taught them.  If we are really passionate about something, we will find a way to pursue it.  One of my dear friend came from Arabian Ranches and another friend from Mamzar while yet another from Jumeirah Beach Residence !!!

Finding a haven where you won’t be judged or laughed at, is precious. We learn better, we explore deeper, we grow further and we develop faster.

We did a project, where my friends had to hammer nails into a block of wood. I was really surprised to observe how quickly they learnt, steadied their hands and hit the hammer with firmness and not only that, its quite tiring having to hit the hammer 25 – 30 times.

Every project they attempted was remarkable, considering no one had attempted such projects before.

Every one learnt something new, a skill, a technique, a design,  especially me.

I learnt that, making friends with like minded creative people is A GIFT !!  And I cherish these friendships.

I was truly overwhelmed.

Enthusiasm, patience and perseverance are the only ingredients needed to brew any success story.

Needless to say, the results were amazing.

Here are some photos :-

I am determined to restart these workshops again this year as well.

I truly hope to be able to carry on with newer projects here in Mirdif too.

Do you enjoy a particular hobby ?  Are there any workshops close to where you live ? Would you like to join CCM in Dubai ?

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Organizing Craft workshop and designing masks.

Did you know, not every great artist can be good teacher.

Arts and Crafts are a very personal affair and very few of us have the flair to “teach”.

Most of us are excellent at demonstrating our skills as artists and designers but teaching is a skill, all on its own and not all of us are equipped with what it takes to be an motivational teacher.

I believe a ‘good’ teacher is one who can inspire you, one who has patience, and one who is prepared to accept the chaff (those who may not be exceptional talented but who are zestful and eager to learn ) as well as the wheat grain.  Alot of people believe that you have to be born with artistic skills – but I don’t adhere to that theory. Skills can be cultivated and talent can be honed.  Everyone who stumbles upon a craft-kit, is not looking to build something magnificent – but he might find comfort in simply ‘trying’ to build something abstract out of it – maybe that is his prowess. That’s where the creative adroitness of the instructor comes handy.

organizing-craft-workshop-and-designing-a-mask

I’m going to talk more about crafts here, rather than arts.

I have been teaching crafts for the last 12 or so, years, in schools, art institutes, with corporate organizations, and one aspect that stands out in “crafts” is that, alot of planning and organisational skills are required for a workshop or class.

Some of the aspects, you should figure out before committing to a workshop are :-

  • The length of the activity
  • The age of the group
  • The ability of the group
  • Will any assistance be provided for a group larger than 7 or 10 participants ?
  • The venue and availability of wash basin, electric socket.
  • Hanging equipment if project needs to be hung for drying.
  • Leg work on the theme :- research the theme, source photographs, make a fancy power point presentation and have a small write-up to introduce the background story to the students
  • Plan all the supplies needed.
  • Inorder to calculate all the supplies and quantities needed, I suggest to ‘actually’ work this activity out and figure out how much time and the quantity of supplies needed. Then add that by the number of participants.  And remember to carry spares.
  • Visiting the venue atleast once before the workshop is a good idea. And it also helps to develop a smooth rapport with the coordinators.
This December, I was invited to give a workshop at DUCTAC located at Mall Of Emirates.

Crafts are so much fun but it can be challenging when we coordinate the activity with the curriculum or in this case, the theme.

The theme was Threads:  A link between two totally different cultures or countries, of a peculiar habit, tradition, game, food, ritual, structure etc. Obviously, I had to come up with a craft based on it as well.

I found this theme very exciting and after a day of relentless research, i was fascinated with what I discovered. While at it, I also realized, what separates us, are our differences, while in our similarities, we find solace and unity.

Here are just a few of the similarities I found, in my research. (ofcourse, there must be a few hundred more !!)

  • China – India                                                            ⇔ Kites

    Both the countries are known for the zest with which they enjoy the sport of playing with Kites. However, kites in China, are much more elaborate and designed in various shapes, much unlike India.

  •  U.S.A – Russia – China – Burma                       ⇔ Bells

    Amongst many other countries, these four countries are known to have Bells playing a remarkable and important historical role.

  • Egypt – Mexico – Cambodia – China                ⇔ Pyramid structure

    Although the Egyptian Pyramids are the most popular structures known worldwide, Mexico, Cambodia and China are also known to have their own ancient mystical prism structures.

  • Africa – India – China – Japan                           ⇔ Masks

    Different cultures symbolize the mask with various deities, animal, spirit or human. Made from ceramic, wood etc, communities use masks for weddings, funerals, coming of age. They ask for spirit blessings, protections etc. They use it to tell stories and impart wisdom. Used in puppetry as well as ceremonial celebrations.

  • Australia –  USA Arizona                                    ⇔ Boomerang

    Although the earliest boomerang was designed in Australia, it is widely used and played with in Arizona – USA.

  • Mexico – China                                                     ⇔ Bowls

    (Taco Bowl / Bowl to eat rice and noodles) Rice is one of the staple grains in both Mexico and China – Infact they handicraft their own bowls to eat it in !

  • Bali – Mauritius                                                    ⇔ Woven baskets  

    Both Bali and Mauritius weave their own baskets but in different designs and colors and techniques.

I decided that my subject would be Masks.  It intrigued me just as much it did, to the children.  I provided the children with cardboard after the power point presentation on how, why, when and where masks are worn,  all over the globe and then asked them to design their own masks, providing them inspiration and a whole lot of recyclable material. It was amazing what the children came up with – far beyond expectation. mask-making-craft-3

Here are a few samples from one of the groups.

making-masks-craft-4

mask-making-crafts-1

mask-making-crafts-2

One of the reasons, I love this project is becoz it helps children play and utilize scraps of foam, cardboard, buttons, macaroni, foam cups, beads, thereby realizing and understand the main concept of reusing items found around the house.

Clearly the kids enjoyed it and got to take a little of History and Geography back home too !!

I believe imparting  knowledge and information is very gratifying.

I hope I have been able to inspire you into trying something new, something unique and something fun today. If so.. please do write to me.

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