elevating child care

Make A Holiday Snowflake (Even If You FAIL At Crafts)

I’m not crafty. Really not crafty.  Just hearing the word ‘craft’ gives me anxiety. But it’s not my fault. It’s the instructions. They fail me all the time!
The last straw was when I volunteered to teach Sunday school and chose a simple-looking activity right out of the curriculum book — making cool, stained-glass-type ornaments. The children had created little drawings, colored them and cut them out. I was supposed to seal the shapes between two pieces of waxed paper with an iron. I ironed and ironed. I fretted and sweated, but the waxed paper kept curling up, wouldn’t stick at all, and we were running out of time.  “My mom would have tried this at home first,” a little girl announced. It was church, so I forgave her.

So, you can be sure that if I’m offering a craft idea, it’s easy, forgiving, user friendly, unsinkable. You can also be sure, because of my beliefs about children owning their creative endeavors, about hands-off self-directed play and active participation, that this activity is totally child-centered. A child (3 and up) who is able to use scissors will need only minimal direction.

This simple snowflake activity was introduced to my children by my dear friend Magdalena, of Little River School. They made many, MANY of these and were entertained for hours. My son made the one pictured in about 2 minutes, but he’s 9.  He was thrilled to discover that he accidentally created “a snowman” in the middle. (Hmmm. I’m just realizing there’s a kind of Rorschach test element to this.) The snowflakes look suprisingly lovely when made simpler, by a much younger child, too. There’s no right or wrong way to make these.

You’ll need:

Paper.  Scissors. That’s it.  And tape if you want to hang it on a window.

Directions:

Fold paper in half, and then in half again.  Cut corners and sides any which way you like. Open to admire snowflake.

Oh, and my adolescent daughter corrected me when she awoke at almost noon today. We were supposed to begin with a square piece of paper, not a rectangle. Yes, I imagine that would make a more snowflaky-looking snowflake.

Did I mention I’m no good at crafts?

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9 Responses to “Make A Holiday Snowflake (Even If You FAIL At Crafts)”

  1. avatar Rachelle says:

    Hi Janet! My mom is good friends with Magda’s daughter Erica, which is how I found you. And I’m so glad I did! I agree that childrens’ art activities should be child centered, and appreciate this post about moving away from adult driven activities. I run a blog on this very topic…. Tinkerlab.com. Please take a look if you have a moment, and thanks for all of the inspiring, thoughtful articles.

    • avatar janet says:

      Hi Rachelle! Do you mean Magda’s daughter Daisy, or Naomi (Mayo)? I just had a brief look at your site — it’s wonderful! Right up my alley. I’m going back when I have a bit more time. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. avatar Rachelle says:

    Mayo (we call her Erika!). I’ve known her for years and just learned of the connection. Thanks again for all you do, and look forward to being in touch!

    • avatar janet says:

      Oh, maybe her real name is Erika! Thanks for your kind words and I am thrilled to connect, too!

      • avatar Lisa Sunbury says:

        Janet,

        Thank you for this really fun and lighthearted post 😉 I appreciate it because I also totally FAIL when it comes to doing crafts of any kind, and the 5 year old I care for will be thrilled if I initiate a project like this one.

        I often kid that the reason I chose to work with with infants and toddlers as opposed to preschool children was because I was so bad at doing crafty projects. Providing “art” activities for babies and toddlers is largely a matter of just making materials available at the appropriate time, and allowing the children to experiment with them as they are ready and able to.

        I’m happy to learn about Tinkerlab.com, and will check it out.

        Wanted to clarify that Erika is Magda’s first born child. She is often called Mayo, as you mentioned, and Naomi is her
        middle name 🙂

  3. avatar Adam says:

    It’s great when we can be corrected, right? My daughter constantly is calling me out about colors (I’m colorblind).

    Rachelle – great website, I agree with Janet!

  4. avatar Ian Chia says:

    Hi Janet,

    Felicity from Thin Air has the perfect bold idea just for you – we’re aiming to be audacious in our mistakes as the activity for Dec 11.

    http://sendfelicity.com/11.html?beautiful_oops

    I guess it was meant to be grace and serendipity in meeting you. (-:

    Hope you enjoy this with your family. If you’re game, try another big adventure here. You just need one apple to start off the journey.

    http://sendfelicity.com/7.html?hidden_treasures

    Best,

    – Ian

  5. avatar thoughtful one says:

    Another idea for snowflake success, with the tip of a marker, color a 1″ spot on the 2 folded edges of the paper. Tell the child they can cut any part but the colored spot. This will help to ensure the snowflake will stay together as one piece! I do this with my preschool students with developmental delays. They are so excited when they finally get a real snowflake and not 4 small pieces of paper.

    • avatar janet says:

      Oh, thank you for this great advice! Definitely not something that would have occurred to me, lacking the crafty gene as I do.

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