Giving Children Beautiful Materials to Create With

My children, like many children, enjoy art. More specifically, they enjoy creating and crafting art with their own two hands. When I first started to supply my children with art supplies, I stuck with items from the children’s aisle of the hobby shop. It seemed natural to me, since those were the items that were specifically advertised for children. As time went on though, I began to realize that I wasn’t doing them any favors by limiting them to cheap craft kits and low quality supplies.
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My shift in opinion started off simple enough. I was working with oil pastels one day when (at the time) 18 month old SunnyGirl grabbed a few and started mimicking me. The picture she created was far more beautiful than any that she had ever made with crayons or markers.
Slowly I started to introduce my children to other art supplies. Clay instead of playdough. Canvas instead of construction paper.
I still kept the kiddie options around, but from time to time it was nice to give them real, beautiful materials to work with.
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SunnyGirl loves beads. She loves stringing beads and could do it for hours upon hours if permitted to. I used to only ever keep cheap plastic pony beads in the house for her, but there are limits to the masterpieces you can create with pony beads. For months she has marveled at the strings of fancy beads in the jewelry making section of our local craft shop. Recently, they had a 70% of sale, and I could no longer find a reason to wait, so I picked up some supplies, and SunnyGirl got her first chance to handle beautiful beads of glass and stone.
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I don’t normally work with jewelry supplies so I had to invest in a pair of wire cutters as well as purchase beads and wire. Luckily, with it all being on sale, we were able to get everything we needed for under $20.
I started her off by cutting the wire to a more manageable length and twisting the end so that the beads wouldn’t fall off.
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Then I laid everything out on a tray for her. I used our mirror box to hold her beads because I thought it would look more appealing to her than a glass bowl. Just a preference, no real reason.
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She made about a half dozen strings of beads and barely made a dent in the the bead supply that I purchased!
Once she decided a string was done she would hand it to me to clinch off the end and trim the excess wire.
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For now the beads are being used as faux leaves on a little “tree” (sticks that I’ve planted in a small terracotta pot).
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I’ve chosen to continue to leave the beads and wire out where she can reach them so she can continue to work on her tree if-and-when the mood strikes her. She has gone back to it about once a day for the past week and still hasn’t run out of beads yet so I think we’re getting quite the return on our investment.

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