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Activities for children: The basic concepts

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Wednesdays, rainy holiday… These are good times to introduce your child to the joys of creative leisure activities. On the condition: that you choose an activity suited to his age and interests. Here's a little guide to enjoyable creation!

1. How should you introduce it to him?

  • unless he shows very early on an obvious talent for the graphic arts, the idea of engaging in a creative activity will more likely come from you. And you will need to battle some treacherous enemies: soccer games, TV, game console. A hopeless battle? Fortunately not.
  • Undertake a manual activity yourself. The very young will surely want to imitate you. Later, assign him trustworthy jobs - other than fetching your tools - recruit him as your as assistant. Then suggest he have his own creative activity workshop.
  • Pass the ball to him. He is asking you for a kite? Tell him you'll help him make his own.
  • Browse with him through the specialized areas of stores or Internet sites dedicated to creative leisure activities… and pay attention to his reaction.
  • If he refuses to let himself be seduced, it's useless to insist. Give up for the moment and wait for another opportunity.

2. What should you suggest to him?

Know your child well: ask yourself about his interests and his nature.

  • If he is very active and versatile, orient him toward short activities, not requiring a lot of attention to details or long explanations.
  • Don't try to introduce educational concepts: the activity must remain a pleasure! Recreating legends? yes… if he is passionate about castles and dragons.
  • Don't require a particular performance, you risk blocking his creativity.
  • Never think that an activity is not suited to his age. One can make very elaborate things with simple modeling clay for example.
  • Encourage him to make objects he can have fun with later: a game of Bingo, a checkerboard, a track for small cars, a strong castle, a palace for a Princess, etc.
  • Take advantage of the richness of your holiday location to suggest activities based on the raw materials that you gather during walks: sand and shells, bark and foliage, etc.
  • Don't insist if he refuses to decorate his school items with his creations. He may prefer to keep this garden… secret.
  • Never try to kill two birds with one stone by encouraging him to make a Christmas gift for his grandma. He will surely want to keep his first creations. In the same spirit, allow him the full ownership of his works… leaving it to the mercy of the cat or buried at the bottom of his toy box. You will have ample souvenirs from what he will decide to give you.

3. Each age has its pleasures...

  • Before age 3: imprints of hands and feet using finger painting, modeling clay, washable markers, decorating the painting with cardboard shapes, collages of colored stickers, etc.
  • Ages 3 to 5: drawing and coloring with markers or painting, "magic" paint with reservations, small objects of modeling clay to cook, easy cutouts to make following a model, assemblages of colored corn flakes, various decorations (labels, Christmas ornaments, masks,... with stickers, painting, flakes), etc.
  • Ages 6 to 8: cardboard constructions, cutting, collages and paper based weaving, colored felt or foam (memo, pencil holder, candlesticks, napkin rings, place mats, puppets, masks, crowns, etc.), mobiles and decorations of stained glass paper, games from painted cardboard (like dominoes, bowling pins, etc.), making garlands, stencil work, models, bead necklaces, modeling clay to cook or that dries hard, window decorations, etc.
  • Age 9: jewelry, introduction to sewing, making disguises, beginner origami, castings (plaster, soaps, candles), making boxes, collages of colored sands, string designs, painting on glass, paper-mâché, kite construction or race track construction, Chinese lanterns, painted stones, etc.

4. How to have a successful session

  • Try if possible to associate a technique to a theme: Key rings or magnets made from clay that dries hard, etc.
  • Limit the length of the session to 2 hours maximum. Beyond that, performance and mood will suffer.
  • Do advance planning, plan tasks, or a break, while you handle any cooking time.
  • If an intermediate drying is required, make sure you can continue the next day.
  • Protect the table and put on your "work" clothes to avoid a housekeeping problem.
  • Congratulate, but don't lie: if he tells you that it failed, etc. say he will do better next time.
  • If you have several children, suggest different activities to them rather than put them in competition in the same workshop, or worse, convince them to work together. Watch out for disputes!

Maintain your role as the adult

  • By suggesting an activity adapted to his age, you will avoid the need to take over to ensure a good result.
  • Let him do it himself. Don't ruin this time of sharing and involvement with a rigid attitude