Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to Train A Young Jedi to Scrapbook

Didn't see that coming did you?  Well, the thing is, our little Jedi may love Star Wars, but he also likes crafts with his Mama.  Doesn't everyone?  I love to scrapbook and have so hoped that eventually the kids would get old enough that we could do it together. Not, I suppose, unlike his Daddy enjoying playing video games with him.  I, in no way, think I'm really a pro at teaching them to love it yet, but here is the basic progression we've worked through so far.  I am very open to suggestions or ideals of how to continue to build our joint creative fun so please leave me your thoughts in the comments.

1.  As with all kinds of learning it is great to start young with the basics.  In November 2009, I wrote this basic kids crafting post.  From my perspective with an almost three-year old.  In those days, we focused on collages with random punched and torn shapes haphazardly adhered and layered at his whim.   We still keep a jar of punched shapes, glue and scrap paper within easy reach so we can make our collages anytime.

2.  The next steps were making more concrete things out of paper and embellishments (fancy word for googly eyes and pom poms).  Last October, for example, we made all sorts of fun Halloween stuff for his door (with a lot of help from Grandma and our Glue Dots).

3.  Crafting often and in a variety of mediums really helps.  For example, our young Jedi has been going to Mother's Day out 2-3 times a week since the summer of 2008.  They do an unbelievable amount of crafts of all kinds - stamping, painting -- including using any manner of things for brushes, collage, lots of hats, and things centered on letters, textures, numbers, feelings, colors, etc.... You would not believe the quantity and quality of things he brings home.  Yes, I know his teacher does a  lot of the work, but he has made great progress, particularly at getting his hands in there and messy.

4.  Easy access to crafting fun:  We give both our kids access to ALOT of craft supplies and put them out where they can easily reach them.  This used to be a disorganized mess, but we have a tower of supplies now that is typically out in the dining room so it is very accessible.  They finally got some Do-A-Dot  markers from the Easter bunny (after much encouragement from Chrissie) and our crafting time greatly increased.   Recently, I've been trying to make sure that he has access to really cool supplies not just the cheapo kids version (you'll see what I mean more below).  If it looks or feels cool I know I am much more likely to use it and he/they are too.

5.  Expose him to arts (and making crafts).  I consciously do some scrapbooking and crafting out in the open with them, not just tucked away in my office at night.  As with our thoughts on teaching kids to love reading we think that showing them us doing and enjoying it is good.  In the last year, the amount I've actually scrapbooked has skyrocketed and, I think, the pages have improved.  During this time, our ritual has become that in the morning, everyone takes a look at the page(s) I've made the night before.  Sometimes this is an everyday thing and sometimes I haven't made anything, but it keeps him seeing my craftiness (and I like the positive reinforcement too).  We also always have a book of recent layouts and photobooks out too for them to peruse (they do daily).  Not to worry, we also so show them other art and other crafts so it is broader than just my efforts.

6.  Involve them in adult projects - I try to keep B involved and active in projects I'm creating when possible. For instance, we recently made invitations to our upcoming 10th anniversary party and he was involved through nearly every step.  His favorite, of course, was supervising the Silhouette while we cut out the shapes,  but did well with glue dots, stamps and envelopes too. I made sure his tasks were generally "real" tasks just not busy work.  He got positive and negative feedback as appropriate to help as we worked through the stack.

7.  Give them freedom to create how "they" want to and value what they make:  I am clearly a type A personality using arts as creative therapy at this point in life.  I spend plenty of time perusing blogs and learning about design elements. So I have a feel for what "works." I have learned to let that go and that he is the expert in what works for him and makes him happy.  I do put a few boundaries on his scrapbook pages--- like that it needs to fit in a 12x12 page protector so elements on at least 3 sides need to be within in that dimension, but generally let things be crooked, mismatched, illogical etc as it is HIS project.  I think the most important part of my role here is to value what he creates for what it is - his own unique expression of their creativity regardless of whether it matches the adults sense of "good" art.

8.  Let them pick out supplies and photos that they want to work with.  I took B with me to Paper Crown (my LSS) in April to help me pick out my supplies.  He was quite the enabler and actually a lovely shopping companion.  He picked out just a couple pages that he wanted to make his project out of.  The below was his favorite piece and the base of his first two independent layouts.  I cut out the individual elements and he selected the placement and other components of the pages.

More recently I saw this completely perfect collection from October Afternoon entitled "Rocket Age."  I cannot think of a more perfect fit for our young space-obsessed Jedi.  Everything is perfectly childlike, delightfully vintage looking and visually just my style and luckily his too.  We were both so excited and I knew we had to have it.  This is not a cheap line and not yet locally available.  Furthermore, I almost never buy more than a piece or two of a line, but here I bought many pieces, including all the paper in a collection pack and I was totally fine spending my June scrapbooking pennies on something I knew we would both love so much.

I mean, look at this page, how perfect for all our space collections, toys, books and adventures?  They also have tin pins and rubber charms of all things! I particularly love the miscellany and B thinks the included tickets will get us to actual outer space. (That required a bit of explaining....we've agreed it will at least get us to the space exhibit at the Science Museum).

True love - he begged repeatedly today to "make his project" and completed two different layouts and painted chipboard for another.

Layout 1 of 2 - "Space Patrol" featuring one of our family pictures from January- Photo by Tracie Simard

9.  Which brings me to-- its ok to get messy.  A year ago, I almost never used paints, ink, mists, stickles or anything like that on my layouts.  Now, I do daily.  I made all of these available to him as well as his own craft paint stash.  He loves it and it is a bridge between the crafts he is doing at school and scrapbooking with me.  In this instance, we took a couple pieces of chipboard from the miscellany package and went to work.   It absolutely pro-scrapbooker fashion he added layers upon layers of paint, mist and glitter to create his very own very cool chipboard accents.  I think May Flaum would be proud.  (It did make me wonder if the pros are learning to embrace their natural child-like tendencies or if kids are just less restrained than adults that lack confidence). After many layers of many different mediums we called it good, but agreed to mist again another day. 

10.  Have fun.  Part of the point of this is to give them a creative outlet, and certainly we're both creating and preserving memories.  However, the biggest goal for me is to just have fun together.  I want to share with my kids something I love and savor that moment together.  

I hope he continues to love to craft with me for a very long time and that you and your kids can find something you truly love to do together, whatever that might be. 


Mary said...

Mental image of Chrissie encouraging the Easter Bunny...thanks :)

Debra Dotter Blakley said...

Wonderful stuff ! I am so happy he is loving being free and that you have so much to offer him in the way of ideas and supplies.

Debra Dotter Blakley said...

And by the way... love the title! So clever. If he should get stuck sometime, while scrapbooking or while doing anything else, just remind him to 'use the Force'.


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