From crayons and markers to paints and glue, arts & crafts are a fun way to creatively engage with kids. And that’s especially true during the one hour spent between a Kids Hope USA mentor and their student.
Maybe your student jumps at the opportunity to color and engage in creative crafts to take home, or maybe it’s a stretch for them to even complete the All About You coloring resource provided at the beginning of the year. In either case, spending time doing arts & crafts together can be enjoyable while boosting valuable life skills for your student.
In our article, “Beyond Books & Games: How Simple Mentoring Activities Strengthen Valuable Life Skills”, we share some exciting ways that seemingly simple activities like games, reading, and arts & crafts can actually play a significant role in teaching your student valuable life skills.
WAYS ARTS & CRAFTS BOOST LIFE SKILLS
With a few crayons, sheets of paper, and a child’s imagination, arts & crafts can become a meaningful learning experience. Here, we’ll explore ways that doing arts & crafts can help kids build important life skills.
Arts & Crafts Provide an Opportunity for Self-Expression
Drawing, coloring, and completing crafts can open the door for a child to express themselves. This is especially helpful for children who are quieter in nature. Arts & crafts provide a creative outlet where they can share their feelings in a non-verbal way. Many art activities don’t come with exact instructions, providing a great opportunity for your student to create on their own. While crafts often do come with specific instructions, they invite students into a space where they can incorporate their own flair and character to the project. Encourage your student to explore their own style and ideas through arts & crafts, and then praise them for their creativity!
When a child is following instructions to complete a craft, there may come a point where the child gets stuck – they cut out a flower wrong, or perhaps they have extra, unexpected space on their page and aren’t sure what to do with it. This obstacle can become a wonderful opportunity to cultivate and strengthen problem-solving skills for your student.
While a child may initially be frustrated that their craft isn’t turning out exactly as they wanted, as their mentor you can use this roadblock to help teach them that they can be creative in using a different approach to create something they love. Show them how they can blend colors together when they color over the lines. Give them ideas for how they can complete their drawing or craft by filling up the extra space. By encouraging them to find solutions, you can help support and strengthen their problem-solving skills.
The creative juices required for arts & crafts require concentration! When your student is in the zone coloring or completing a project, they are building their ability to focus on one thing for a long time. Intentionally coloring in the lines, filling in details in artwork, and carefully threading beads are just a few examples of the many arts & crafts activities that can promote concentration for kids. Since the ability to focus on one thing for an extended period doesn’t just develop overnight, these arts & crafts activities can help kids strengthen their concentration muscle.
Help Develop Self-Regulation
Arts & crafts activities involve the body, mind, and emotions, helping the creator feel calmed and soothed. Art can even be used in professional therapy! Art therapy is a type of therapy that connects the act of creating art with regulating emotions and expressing experiences. Studies show that art can help to improve moods, bring together senses, and calm the mind and body. For example, turning a blank page into a colorful piece of art, section by section, can encourage a child on a rough day by soothing their mind and body. Even moving a crayon back and forth on a page repeatedly provides a sense of calm and relaxation for all ages.
Support Your Relationship
Often, students and mentors engage in teamwork as they do arts and craft together. For example, a student might hand their mentor a blue colored pencil and say, “You color the blue water, and I’ll color the green grass!” Instances like this help create a special bond between you and your student as you work together to make a beautiful piece of art.
Doing art as a team also provides a wonderful space for conversation. As the mentor, you can use arts & crafts as an opportunity to intentionally praise your student’s work, creating a model from which they may just reciprocate by intentionally complimenting your work as well! When you’re done, it’s wonderful for your student to take home the art you’ve created together and use it as a reminder of the care and support you showed them in your time creating it.
Not surprisingly, arts & crafts provide a creative outlet for kids to explore, plan, and create. They can play with colors, patterns, and styles to discover what they like and don’t like, and then use creativity to tweak and make their project look better. Kids love making their art beautiful, silly, and different to suit their tastes and large imaginations: they may color purple hair for themselves just because they want to, draw their dream house on the beach because they want a pet crab, or even make up a new creature with multiple eyes and noses! When given some art supplies and time to spend together, your student can allow their imagination to run wild, strengthening their creativity.
BOOST SKILLS WITH ARTS & CRAFTS
A coloring page or seasonal craft can be much more than an activity. Spending time together creating art or completing a craft can help your student boost valuable life skills.
In a Kids Hope USA mentoring program, students and mentors meet one-on-one, for one hour, once a week. This school-based mentoring program helps kids realize their importance and value as an additional caring and consistent adult shows up each week just for them. During their time together, they play games, read books, do arts & crafts, and more.
Are you interested in learning more about mentoring through a Kids Hope USA program? Check out our program page!