Get your Kids' Creativity Flowing with some Holiday Crafts

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Most children love arts and crafts. Whether in school or at afterschool programs, these classes give children the ability to express themselves in creative ways. Elementary school teachers report that most pupils look forward to art class. The time gives kids a much needed respite from facts and figures. It lets them relax and let their minds wonder in unexpected ways.

Tragically, many school districts have opted to cut art program budgets in recent years. As test scores continue to fall and schools struggle to meet basic proficiency requirements in math and reading, art, music and physical education programs have been put on the proverbial chopping block. Millions of concerned parents have spoken out against these reductions to no avail. As a result, many of them have started doing arts and crafts at home.

The Benefits of Arts and Crafts

In addition to letting a kid's imagination run wild, arts and crafts are a wonderful way to bond with your children. Like any shared project, kids feel like they are part of a team and that they are free to express their own ideas. Working on simple art projects at home can help your child become more independent and assertive. Most importantly, it will give her a sense of accomplishment. The statement, "I made that" is a very powerful one.

Holiday-Themed Projects

The holidays are probably the best time to work on arts and crafts with your kids. Not only do most children love the imagery and emotions that are associated with the holidays, but it often gives them a chance to show off their artwork to an audience. Because friends and family members stop by on most major holidays, your child can put her favorite creations on display.

Winter Projects

Winter is the unquestioned leader when it comes to holiday crafts. Christmas, Hanukah, New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day can bring out the creative spirit in just about any child. Before the weather turns cold, parents should stop by their local arts supply store and stock up on colored pipe cleaners, glue, construction paper, poster boards and whatever else they think their little artist might have fun with.

One simple winter project children often enjoy is making a New Year's Eve hat. The hat can be made from either construction paper or poster board and glued or taped into a cone shape after it has been decorated. Magic markers, pipe cleaners, crayons, glitter, metallic sticker stars and glue are all that you

will need.

Though kids typically make cards for Valentine's Day in school, a fun project for home is to construct a mailbox for cards from an old shoe box. Simply cover the box in construction paper, cut a slit in the lid, and let your little cupid decorate it. Once again, magic markers, stars, glitter and glue are important tools.

Last but not least, we have a simple Christmas project. As you might imagine, there are hundreds of home Christmas projects from which to choose. But there is just something about making stockings to hang from the mantel. With a standard undecorated felt stocking or even a large red sock, a little artist can create something festive with glitter and fabric paints.

Spring Projects

Most kids love decorating Easter Eggs. Dipping hardboiled eggs in a mixture of vinegar and food dye is enough to give them some color. But for creative-minded kids, that is just the beginning. Once the eggs dry, the shells can be painted with simple water colors and sprinkled with glue and glitter. Another simple trick most people do not know is to use crayons to color warm eggs. After boiling in the water, hold the egg in a paper towel or an oven mitt and let your child draw on it. If the egg is warm enough, the wax from the crayons will melt and create unique designs.

Summer Projects

Because summer is one long holiday for kids, there are few distinct days to celebrate. In fact, there is really only one - the Fourth of July. Hats and crowns decorated with the national colors is a nice, simple project to celebrate America's independence. Red, white and blue pipe cleaners can be glued to a narrow band of poster board and fitted to your child's head. Don't forget the sticky stars!

Fall Projects

Halloween and Thanksgiving are every bit as colorful and full of iconic images as Christmas or Valentine's Day. Spooky pumpkins, witches, skeletons and bats can all be traced and colored using construction paper. Plastic googly eyes can compliment any creepy creature. And for Thanksgiving, it is all about the turkey. A creative project that requires some skill is to make a pet turkey with a pinecone. The feet, beak and feathers can all be cut out from construction paper and glued onto the pinecone and the face can be painted on later.Affordable art supplies can be found at local arts and crafts stores or from sellers on the internet. Find some holiday crafts your kids will love now!

Mike Smithy is a freelance writer who writes about hobbies and interests including products such as holiday crafts.

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