Opportunities for family talk during arts and crafts activities
Sometimes as parents we settle our children down with paints, play dough or colouring books in hope of twenty minutes of peace to get on with our jobs, but at other times it is a joy to sit down and be creative alongside our little ones. These can be times of companionable silence but they can also provide opportunities to keep kids talking:
1. Before you begin
You can discuss your plans considering questions such as:
- What you are planning to create?
- What medium are you going to use?
- What materials will you need?
- What mood are you hoping to convey?
- Is there anything you need to practise or do in rough first?
- Is there anything to research or get inspiration from before you begin?
If your project has a theme – such as Springtime or Rainbows – you could discuss the discuss the ideas it conjures up first. You might want to visit one of the many free online art galleries for ideas and discuss what you see. It’s terrific if you are drawing or making something yourself and you can model talking through your ideas.
2. During the activity
Chat about how your piece is going, commenting on things that are tricky or things you are pleased with; this will encourage your children to do the same. Avoid quizzing them too much as this may stop them from focusing and enjoying the activity.
If your activity is a more straightforward one such as colouring or painting by number, this can create a perfect backdrop for talking about other issues. Some children are more likely to open up and talk about fears and worries, dreams and hopes while working alongside an adult.
3. After the activity
Encourage your child to reflect on the process:
- Are they pleased with the end product?
- What went better or worse than they planned?
- What was harder or easier than they had thought it would be?
- Did they stick to their original plans or change things as they went?
- If they did it again what would they do differently?
- Would they like to share their work, and if so how? (e.g On the wall/shelf, photo sent to grandma, stuck in the window to share with the community).
- Do they have any ideas for follow up activities or things they would like to do next?
A note on praise
Current thinking on Growth Mindset suggests that you offer praise on the process rather than the finished product so you may wish to consider offering praise such as “I was so impressed that you didn’t give up when it got tricky” or “wow, you concentrated on that for a long time”