Teaching Ideas - Preschool Crafts

 By: Kathryn Dawson
There is nothing more important to preschool teaching than the use of arts and crafts. Without such hands on activities, children of such a young age will invariable lose interest and therefore stop paying attention in the class. Crafts help children learn as well as help them develop important social skills that will set them up for life. Crafts for children must be completely safe, they must follow the theme of the class on that day and they must be simple to complete so the children can follow through with them and feel proud of their creations.

By keeping arts and crafts simple, the children will be able to see almost instant results which is important to help boost confidence and keep motivation high. Long craft projects that take more than one day to complete will be too difficult for children who will lose interest. Long craft projects can be carried out occasionally, for example for a special occasion or celebration, but they should be done at the same time as other much smaller projects that take no longer than one craft session to finish.

Another key step in successful arts and crafts projects is simplicity. That means there should be very few set up tasks involved such as cutting, organising and measuring. Few tools should be needed and the set up and clearing away should not take longer than a few minutes either side of the activity. With just one or two teachers in the class, the children must be able to work for the majority of the time on their own which means there should be minimal reliance on the teacher for carrying out the project. Again this makes simplicity a crucial aspect of any craft activity.

Ideally the project can be broken into bite sized chunks, as this is the easiest way for children to understand and put the instructions into practice. Instructions should really be kept to one or two sentences as lengthy explanations will allow minds to start wandering. Also breaking the instructions down will help teachers keep everyone at more or less the same stage which provides them with much more control over the class and helps everyone complete the task.

If on occasion the craft project is a little more complex than usual, it is a good idea for the teacher to have a practice run through beforehand. Not only does this make it clearer in the teacher's mind but it will also help them find ways to explain it to the children in language they are going to understand. Teachers will always find it easier to teach a complicated or multi-step craft session if there has been a preliminary practice beforehand. As will all classroom activities related to preschoolers, the activity must be completely safe. Scissors and small objects such as buttons and sequins have been known to cause accidents so it is very important that an adequate assessment is carried out to see if the project will be suitable for the class in question. If the maturity level of the class is too low for a particular craft idea then it should be dropped immediately and an alternative project found.

All preschool crafts should be carefully supervised, and if any activity such as hot glueing is required then it should be done so only by an adult to prevent burning and the piece not handed back to the child until it is thoroughly dry. All arts and crafts materials should be non-toxic and washable as parents will not be pleased to find clothes splattered with paint that doesn't come out! Plenty of teaching ideas and literacy resources for helping teachers plan ways to keep children interested can be found online. The internet is a very helpful resource for preschool teachers looking for new and innovative ways to teach young children and keep them enthralled with arts and craft projects.
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