My child won't do craft activities- what now?

Daycare, playgroups, preschool, home schooling mums, many many many blogs they all do it. There are plenty of books, websites, classes and courses that show you how to do it.

What happens if you have a child that refuses to do it?

Crafty sad face

Firstly, this is more common than you think. Craft activities neatly fit into 2 distinct groups: product and a free flow. The product based craft is hard and very dependent on your child’s personality. The free flow type of craft works for most kids and allows more freedom for…ahem..experimentation.

Benefits of craft activities

There are so many reasons why we should encourage our kids to participate in craft activities. Here are a few reasons other mums have said.

  • Brilliant for fine motor development, verbal skills, muscle coordination, concentration, achievement, learning to follow directions
  • It’s fun!
  • Form of expression/ form of creativity
  • ˜Takes them away from the TV”
  • Something is produced so spouse other people can see kids been doing things ( daycare)
  • Open ended art
  • Enjoying the process, being creative, making decisions, using their hands


But what age and what do you expect them to be able to do?

Many times we try out our ideas of a craft and it just doesn’t work out as these mums explain.

˜I remember trying to do crafts with my first child when she was 2 or 2 1/2. I thought she’d enjoy them. Mostly it ended up me doing all the stuff and her watching me because she didn’t have the physical dexterity or fine motor skills to do the projects I’d chosen. I gave it up very quickly. By the time she was 3; she was inventing her own crafts and is now one of the craftiest kids I know.”

˜I organized a craft afternoon at my house and everything with his neighborhood friends thinking that it would generate more interest for him. Yeah right. LOL He runs around the room screaming with his hands in the air while the others quietly make their craft.”

Importance of pushing the comfort zone

My child loved crafts if he could do them for 1 or 2 minutes at a time. We did short projects and things that could be started and stopped. He loves to use stickers, glitter, glue and sequins. Eventually I made a few Ziploc bags full of bits and bobs so he could open pick and stick whenever he wanted. Now he sits longer when he has an aim in mind.

We decide where to put up his creations and he loves to show off to whoever comes through the door; a brilliant way to improve his self esteem.

Spring 2008 Standard Banner

Our purpose is to give them access to many different experiences so whilst I often have an end product in mind. ˜Let’s make an angel.” Just as many times I ask him what shall we make or what is he making? My child works well after some copying. His ideas take off. Some children can create from nothing. I found what fits my son’s personality and we work with that.

Here are some of the fine motor activities my son loved when he refused craft activities. He still does many of them now.

  • He played with magnetic boards>early learning counting and moving little balls to tell the time.
  • Sorted beads or beans into colors
  • He colored pasta shells and stringed necklaces
  • He laced animals and vehicles
  • He had a tub of rice and beans to push things in, discovers pour etc.

Playing with beans and rice

Playing with rice and beans

All were activities that promoted fine motor skills; some with an end point and some endless.

Perhaps your child enjoys play doh right now and has no time for crafts. No problem. Play doh has its own rewards. Don’t follow the herd follow your child and encourage the fine motor experiences through other mediums.

If your child doesn’t like or refuses to do craft activities you need to find a way of getting a balance of development skills through other means. My eldest son loves to manipulate and move; play doh was perfect for him to push, pull, poke, squeeze, cut, roll, toss and shape. Also I found combining gross motor activity and a craft made the craft accessible for him.

There was a time he couldn’t care less about craft. He wasn’t ready so I enjoyed his other skills.

If your child is a child who does not like crafts or you’re a parent who doesn’t care for crafts you can try again in the future when they are older and see if they like it then. As a parent find other ways to achieve the benefits craft activities offer through other toys and activities. What do you like doing? Can they do something similar?

There are plenty of solutions to a craft activities refuser.:)

Try a new way….but above all -don’t panic. Craft activities are just one way of achieving developmental goals. There are so many other ways. You have to be creative.

l leave the final comment to one mum who sums up craft activities really well.

˜Playing with play dough, drawing/ scribbling (usually for very short periods of time), painting (with a bucket of water outside, on an easel, etc), mixing colors with food coloring, maybe some snipping with scissors, stamping with stamps and a stamp pad, playing with stickers, playing with glitter glue, maybe gluing collages, painting rocks are all fun. But the key is to keep it very short. And if it isn’t fun, don’t do it. Try again in a few months.”

What toys and activities have you used to promote the skills craft activities do?

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  1. Thanks for participating in this week’s Carnival of Family Life hosted by Pickel at My Two Boys. The Carnival will be live on Monday, April 7, 2008, so make sure you stop by and check out all of the other outstanding entries included in this week’s Edition!

  2. What a neat article…thanks for your thoughts. My4 year old son really dislikes “crafts” but I never thought about the two kinds–open ended or product oriented. He hates to do the craft “kits” that are supposed to “be” something. He would rather just free-flow his creativity with PlayDough, fingerpaints, etc. From your article, I realize that he IS doing crafting, just not what my definition was 🙂 Thanks for the lightbulb moment!@@

  3. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you can both enjoy some more craft activities. My kids are currently painting up a storm in the kitchen . Very calming for them both and interesting designs.

  4. Thanks so much for the thoughts. My kid about 4yr old is obsessed with alphabets and numbers and even in crafts /painting, he likes only alphabets. Do you have any thoughts for this? I learnt one thing from the article is to keep things short. Thanks a ton.

  5. Thanks for stopping by.

    Getting stuck on one or two things is quite normal for little guys of this age. It’s always good to offer alternative ideas to expand his horizons as well. Next time when you’re reading a story- point out something that would make a good picture. Encourage him to paint it or extend the scene by adding his own parts.

    You could use a playdough ‘S’ and turn it into a snake and show him how letters can morph into other things.
    It’s important to embrace the letter obsession too every now and again and not always try and move him on to something else.

    I think the language you use will be important to not complaining about ‘alphabet or letters again!’ but instead using everyday opportunities , as they arise, to inspire his creativity. ” look at that b i g tree! We should draw one like it at home” Or remember a good experience and ask him to draw it for you. You can do it together. Scaffolding his ideas by helping him go a bit further than he can already.

    To keep his imagination and creativity going or kick start it again; read lots of books, have them about and tell stories. Limit TV and passive activities especially electronics that require him to just push buttons. Encourage play with Have plenty of paper on hand for them to doodle whenever they want. Pin up their work and praise how hard they worked on it rather than what they produced. “Wow you worked hard using the blue today” ” Can you tell me about this?”

    Hope some of these ideas work for you. With time he’ll be onto other things……. mine have a superhero obsession right now.


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