Tuesday, March 27, 2012
When my older children were small, we used to do a lot of craft projects together. Nothing fancy but it was a regular and generally enjoyable feature of our days. These days, there is a lot of free style coloring, drawing, painting, cutting and pasting, clay modeling, etc. Eventually, I do hope to get more organized art lessons but for now this model works for us. What I do want to focus on right now with the kids, are more practical DIY type projects. I really like those type of projects myself and children take great pride in making useful things for themselves or for the family. For example, we made this liquid soap together the other day. It was a relatively short and easy project with something for everyone to do. Everyone four years old and up participated by either grating the soap, pouring and/or mixing and now usually when given a choice they hands down prefer to use "their" soap. We also experimented with making jello flavored with ices (based on this recipe) and again the kids participated in the making, the eating and brainstorming for future improvements. So why do I favor these practical projects other than some unrequited nesting instinct still left over from this past pregnancy or the fact that quite a few educational philosophies such as Charlotte Mason and Montessori recommend purposeful activities? A few reasons really. One, this is a good way to teach practical skills. Two, it helps kids and adults to snap out of today's consumerism oriented mentality and into a more producing oriented one. Three, it teaches appreciation of the simple things in life and the simple ways one can enrich his life and that of others. It teaches resourcefulness and creativity with what one has and gives one a sense of true accomplishment based on doing rather than owning. It helps one to reconnect with one's humanity as creative beings we were meant to be. Something that I feel, our great dependence on gadgetry and convenience deprives us of. And besides everything else, it allows us to do things as a family, further increasing the family cohesiveness and creating a life that is uniquely our own. So I am really hoping we will be making things here, simple things that don't require too much time necessarily or extravagant ingredients. These days when everything tends to be commercialized including the simple living and healthy choices, it's really amazing what one can make at home with just a few basic skills. I think it's a gift I would very much want to give our children, the ability and the privilege to be a producer, to make and to make do, to not be excessively influenced by the world around them to their detriment. I thinks, especially with Pesach(Passover) coming up, a holiday of freedom, this is an important lesson that will make them free in a higher sense. G-d willing, I'll write about specific projects I have in mind in the near future.