Corn husks, twine, & fabric scraps make autumn decorations,
and step-by-step, they build attention spans in the group, too. 

The handicrafts we make in our home tend to be more crafty than handy.

CM advises that handicrafts should be useful, and our crafts in my family often fall short of that standard, unless you count fun and decorative as useful.

Even so, I see plenty of usefulness in crafty-crafting.

I've been using crafts with a group of kids at my church, either in Sunday School class with the lessons or during Quiet Time just for fun.

The kids in my group are highly spirited. That's the correct term, right? Maybe rowdy would be more accurate, if not as gentle. They are eager, really eager, to work on crafts, but honestly, they lack the listening skills, attention spans, and confidence in their coordination to do much on their own beyond using coloring books. I don't think most of them have had much experience with crafting, but that's all the more reason to begin.

So, we've been working on crafts together, some easy, some more challenging. Here's what I'm noticing about crafty work:

  • Attention spans grow! They really do.
    In a group setting, the time restrictions force me to plan short projects. The kids are learning, week after week, to keep up their attention for our entire time together, knowing it will take our full session to complete a project. This is slow progress for some children, but it's progress I'm most definitely seeing
  • Fine-motor skills improve with practice.
    No big surprise there, but I think the kids surprise themselves what they can do. The trick is learning not to rush, and slowing down seems harder to learn than the actual fine-motor skill.
  • Kindness happens.
    I've heard that Amish people use group projects like raising a barn or making a quilt not only to raise a barn and make a quilt, but to provide a social outlet for people. They understand that with a specific task on hand that requires focus and work, those bothersome personality quirks of others are easier to tolerate and ignore.

    I have found this to be true in our spirited group. When not engaged in a craft or chore that requires attention and some effort, the kids pester each other, provoke each other, jostle, tease, and poke

    When the craft captures them, they get along. It's a miracle, I want to shout! I've heard unsolicited compliments and I've seen unprompted sharing during an intense crafting time. No reminders from me about behavior are needed during those magical moments. 
  • Patience takes patience.
    One of the hardest things for the kids to do is to listen to instructions. They want to jump to the last step immediately. By crafting, you learn that things are constructed in a certain order. You have to build up to the last step. The kids are learning patience because they want their finished project to look good, and I'm learning patience in presenting the project in a way that makes sense to them.
  • Accomplishment feels good.
    I notice busy-work like coloring-book pages are cast aside, dropped, forgotten. But a project that challenged their minds and hands is like a friend they made and want to keep. 
It's really fun for me to use some CM ideas with kids other than my own in my home. My sessions with the group are not pure CM, I know that, but I do think about things like making short lessons, creating a pleasant atmosphere for learning, setting high standards, resisting prattling and over-explaining.

The kids have made progress over these months, but I suspect I'm the one who is learning more. That's a sign to me that I'm on the right track when I realize that just when I think I'm the leader, I see that I am, in fact, being led. 

Today's gratitude is the handiness of making crafts.


  1. I always feel that our crafts should "have purpose" but honestly most of them are just for the fun of crafting! Even if they don't have real meaning, they are beneficial, and we have fun with them!

  2. I always feel that our crafts should "have purpose" but honestly most of them are just for the fun of crafting! Even if they don't have real meaning, they are beneficial, and we have fun with them!

  3. I like this post a lot! You are so right on every point. I know with my own kids that even though they thought they were just having fun, I could see the learning happening whether it was obvious like fine motor or more abstract like planning and pursuing.

  4. awesome. i am decidedly not crafty. though i can, it's definitely the want to that's lacking. ;) but i am in full support of those talented and willing of you out there. heheh.
    i've been out of the blog reading habit, but just wanted to say hello. i saw you over at the forum and thought i'd stop in real quick! ;)