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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Elmer's Glue and a Roaring Good Craft

This summer, I was so excited that our What to Do Cube was featured in a Family Fun magazine article. I was even more excited when a representative of Elmer's Glue contacted me and asked if I was interested in learning more about their Let's Bond initiative. Their research showed that "activities like a simple, 20-minute craft using just a few materials yield countless academic benefits leading to long-term success in school subjects like math, reading and writing."

The Let's Bond campaign not only shares the results of their research but also offers some simple craft ideas perfect for moms like me who want to do crafts, but have trouble finding time. 

And did I mention these crafts are simple? If you read my blog, you know I have big dreams when it comes to crafting and there are lots of crafts I wish I could do. But those little craft setbacks don't stop me from coming up with random ideas for kids' crafts, costumes and projects!

So of course I said I'd love to take a look at the craft kit that Elmer's puts together for younger learners through their Early Learners Academy. When it arrived, my youngest was thrilled with the classic lunchbox style. He dove right in and unpacked the supplies. 

He was actually very surprised that the glue sticks were not round. And that was the point! I learned that these glue sticks are uniquely shaped to promote proper grip of writing utensils. My sister-in-law said her mom would love a full set of these for her preschool classroom! My youngest also liked the purple color of the glue. He knew exactly where he had already spread glue and when it was dry. 

I showed him the picture of the finished craft, a Lion Mosaic made from torn paper and glued onto a brown paper bag. He was thrilled to make a lion but he did NOT want to make it on the paper bag! Instead he got to work right away in my office as I sat next to him and talked about his ideas. He didn't actually need my help, and I don't think he wanted me to do anything for him. Instead, I think he loved the fact that he was able to show me his skills. We had seen a lot of different kinds of art on our recent vacation and so creating his own design and talking about why he was using a certain color or gluing a certain piece of paper in that specific place really validated the whole project. 

As I observed him turning his idea into a beautiful creation, I thought about what else his nimble little fingers will create in the future. I enjoyed his answers to my questions about what the lion was feeling ("happiness") and where the lion lived ("the savannah") and if he wanted to be an artist ("I already am"). I know that doing these kinds of crafts helps develop his fine-motor skills and his language skills, but I really think there were some benefits for me, too.

I felt calmer and happier watching him work. He didn't need my help and didn't want it, but that didn't frustrate me or make me feel left out. Instead I felt pride at his self-confidence and willingness to try. I was actually impressed he didn't feel the need to follow the predesigned project (even though it is super-cute) but that he wanted to implement his own unique design. It was such a positive experience for both us that it inspired me to do more crafts with all of the boys this summer.

I picked up some modeling clay and we laughed together mixing colors and making crazy shapes. We finished up some wooden models and tackled painting them. All of these craft projects took some time and meant I had to let the laundry sit unfolded (no biggie) or put off another chore until later. But the time we shared was priceless. And I definitely feel like we bonded.

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