Kids love crafts.
Moms often DO NOT!
Let’s be honest–trying to do a craft with multiple children of multiple ages can quickly turn into multiplied chaos! And of course the younger the children, the more your project is liable to try your patience!
But these Rock Monsters made for an easy, inexpensive craft ALL my children really, really enjoyed. In fact, not only were they making a craft, they were making toys for themselves, which made it all the more fun for them!
But before I tell you anymore about the craft, can I throw in a few tips for reducing stress when it comes to doing arts and craft projects with kids? I am no Mother Teresa when it comes to patience, believe me, but homeschooling has been so good for me and I’m learning to relax and really ENJOY projects with my kids. A few simple changes to the way I do things has been incredibly helpful. (For those Mother Teresa-types among you, all TWO of you out there, feel free to skip this part!)
When crafting with kids…
1. Have all your supplies assembled before you start.
I know that’s really basic, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called the kids to the table and started into a craft, only to discover the glue was missing or the paintbrushes weren’t where I thought they were! Then I’m scrounging through drawers and plastic bins for 20 minutes in search of things I thought I had! In my experience small children have attention spans of approximately 15 seconds, so don’t do that to them! Be fully prepared for what you’re about to do. And if you can store all your art/craft supplies in one area, that’ll help you a lot, too. You’ll always know where to start looking for whatever you need. And if you’re worried about the kids’ clothing, always keep smocks or old t-shirts on hand as well!
2. Go into every project with a strategy already in mind.
Ask yourself a few questions before you get started: What’s the easiest way to do this particular craft with several children? How can I change it up to make it easier for my toddler? Could my older children help the younger ones? Maybe I should go ahead and have some things pre-cut. Maybe I should dole out the supplies in small portions rather than plopping whole jars of glitter or paint on the table…
Sometimes we just need to go into art and craft projects with a plan instead of dumping supplies on a table and expecting our kids to act like adults and use it all only as directed! And, trust me, I know that in spite of our best plans sometimes things can awry. In fact, where kids are concerned, they are likely to go awry! But we’ll fair much better, moms, if we go into these things with a plan of action!
3. Do yourself a favor and avoid projects using permanent glues and inks and oil-based paints, at least until you feel your kids are old enough to handle them.
I was smart enough NEVER to give permanent markers to my kids, but I really had no clue about paints, other than the Crayola brand that wash well, but don’t make for the prettiest artwork. Fortunately I have an artist friend who gave me some pointers in that department. (Thanks, Theresa!) She informed me that watercolor and acrylic paints make for lovely paintings AND easy clean-up. And I have fallen in love with the rich color of acrylics!
And keep in mind that clay, chalks, and even sketching pencils can leave stains on skin, furniture, and clothing. (Believe it or not, dark-colored Play-Doh has been some of the worst stuff we’ve tried to use, so be cautious!)
4. Cover surfaces you’re worried about.
If you’ve followed my blog for very long then you know I just refinished my kitchen table. Given all the work I’ve put into it, I can admit I’m a little over-protective when it comes to my precious table!
So I cover it, even when we’re using washable paints or markers or glues. I just worry less and, what’s even more wonderful, when we’re all done I can gather up most of the mess in the tablecloth and throw it away!
I keep cheap plastic table covers on hand just for this purpose and most of them I’ve picked up at local dollar stores for $1 or less. Party supply stores and now even Wal-Mart sell rolls of plastic table cover. Talk about convenient! You can drape it over chairs and even line the floor under a table if you’re looking to protect your carpet or flooring. Wipe the covers off and reuse them if you like or just toss them in the trash!
Also, working in a paper or styrofoam plate can help catch mess and corral supplies, too. Plus they make for an easy cleanup! Larger, reusable plastic trays can be great for this as well. Then each child can have their own individual work station.
5. Relax and enjoy the time together!
Yes, your kids are going to make a mess. Kids are clumsy and curious and great at spilling things, so there’s virtually no way you’re going to get through a project without some mess, and sometimes A LOT of it! But sometimes, moms, we are way too uptight about messes. Houses and floors and furniture–it’s all just STUFF! Time spent with our children doing things they love, however, is PRICELESS!
Not to mention that arts and crafts are good for a child’s development! They strengthen fine motor skills. They cultivate self-expression and creativity. And while so many parents these days complain about how much time children spend with TV and video games and cell phones, arts and crafts provide a wonderful alternative! My own kids LOVE video games, but they will turn down the Wii for a chance to PAINT any day of the week!
Now…back to my Rock Monsters! I found the instructions for these little guys and gals here, on Pinterest, and I thought ours turned out just as cute! And the supply list is small and very inexpensive.
Start out with ROCKS–smooth, less porous ones whatever size you like. The directions I found recommended using small stones so you could attach magnets to the back and use them on the refrigerator. Cute idea, but my kids wanted to play with their Rock Monsters, not stick them to the refrigerator, so we didn’t do that. Anyway, craft stores and even hardware stores sell bags of rocks in different sizes, but you may be able to find some in your backyard. Maybe in your flower pots. At a river’s edge or creekbed. In your neighbor’s landscaping…
Okay, I was totally kidding about that! No stealing from the neighbors, please, not even rocks! But if you think they might be willing to donate a few to your cause, go ahead and ask!
You also need some GLUE, a FINE-TIPPED BLACK PERMANENT MARKER, a few PAINT BRUSHES, and some ACRYLIC CRAFT PAINTS. I say go with gloss. And this stuff is really cheap at Wal-Mart–just $.98 a bottle. I let each of the kids pick a color and then figured they could share.
Pick up some GOOGLY EYES. Isn’t that what they’re called? If not, surely you know what “googly eyes” are! I found a fairly big pack of them in different sizes at the Dollar Tree for a buck. Can’t beat that!
INSTRUCTIONS: Let your kiddos paint their rocks. And for good, thick color you’ll probably need two coats. We did our first coat in the morning and our second in the afternoon. (We didn’t paint the undersides.)
When your monsters are dry, attach eyes with glue and then draw little faces and teeth. I drew all the faces, but I allowed my kids to choose the design for each and I thought they were so cute in the end. And my kids have played and played with these, even giving them all names!