Over the weekend we worked on our Valentine's. Rather than create everything from scratch, this year I bought cards with envelopes so that the kids could just focus on writing names or drawing pictures. It was an attempt to make it a bit easier for me, as well as the kids. If I plan for there to be too many steps, I find that I end up doing the whole thing. Even this proved a little too much for Quinn, but Milo totally rocked it this year! Quinn just needs to get a little older.

Milo diligently wrote all 18 names of his classmates inside the cards AND on the envelopes, as well writing his own name 18 times! It's a testament to how well he is able to print his letters. He was moaning by the end, and had to take a couple of breaks, but I was so impressed by how much work he did this year! Quinn is not quite there yet, so I asked him to stamp each of his cards with an animal stamp and I stamped his name. He made it about halfway through before he lost interest, mostly because we ended up struggling over stamping his name. He wanted to do it but he refused to do it in the right order, so it was NIQU or UNIQ. This drove me bananas and when I insisted he do it the right way, he left. Confession: I don't craft well with my kids.

This article by Lisa Belkin was an interesting perspective on how involved parents should be in their children's projects and I really related to Laura's experience working on her son's 100 days of school project. We recently did the 100 days project for Milo's kindergarten class. I did some set up for him, gave him 3 choices about what he could do and then I let him choose and glue things by himself. He rarely wants my help, and often finds my involvement frustrating, so I'm happy to stay out of it until he gets tired, and then I will do what I can to make it easier for him. It's been a learning process for both of us to get there though, I have learned to stay out of Milo's way and Milo has gotten older and is more willing to have my input when he needs it.

I've always found the idealized version of what it is like to craft with kids and the reality to be very different. Maybe it's me, or my kids, but crafts are sometimes a bit hard. I really have to let go and just let them be, anytime we are trying to follow a set guideline it makes it more difficult.

Do you craft with your kids? Do they follow directions or are they free thinkers who want to do it their own way? Is it easier with older kids? I think the key with younger kids and free thinkers is to keep it short and simple. I've had the best results when I just let them do their thing within a loose frame work, like a particular paper size, or a limited set of colors.

For more ideas about crafting with kids, check out these links: