Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Summer of Handicrafts

Let me just say up front that I'm not a particularly crafty or creative person.   Nor am I a 'fun mom'.   You won't find me culling Pinterest for fun projects I can do with my kids.   One of the things that I was so relieved about when I discovered Charlotte Mason was that it gave me permission not to have to do cute 'hands-on' projects that I have no idea what to do with once they are finished for every history or science topic we cover.  I hate clutter.  And I hate pouring time into a project that is eventually destined for the trash can.
That said, Charlotte Mason education is much more than just books and narration, as Celeste points out in the article she wrote for the Charlotte Mason Myth Busting series over at Afterthoughts.  One of the many more active pursuits she included in her curriculum is what she called "handicrafts".    Celeste explains: "The goal for [handicrafts] was beauty, usefulness, and quality -- this is not crafting for the sake of crafting, as so many educational supplements seem to be."   Handicrafts can be things we might consider to be in the realm of crafts such as sewing or crocheting or paper folding, but I would say it also rolls over into what we might term 'life skills' too – even such things as chores, and cooking, and home repairs.  In this excellent article about handicrafts, Nicole lists four purposes for teaching our children handicrafts:
  1. A possible lifelong hobby (fire making and camp fire cooking, knitting, woodworking, sewing, basket making, carving)
  2. A skill which can be used to gift friends and family (homemade ornaments, sewing, knitting, preserving food, cooking, card making, basket making, carving)
  3. A life skill that allows you to care for family or otherwise makes things more comfortable in your home (cooking, preserving food, cleaning)
  4. A means to training hand-eye coordination (all of the above examples)
Ah yes.  This I can wrap my mind around.  These don't involve shoe boxes, papier-mâché, salt-dough, or glitter.  This I can do.
I didn't really plan it to be this way, but this summer turned out to be the summer of handicrafts.  I thought I'd show you some of the things that we did.
James, age 6, was often (always?) around and involved in the process whenever his Papa was repairing something:


He also helped his Papa put together a model airplane from a kit that was given to us:
Michelle, age 8-going-on-9 learned how to crochet when my mom was visiting:
This was her first completed project, a little bag.   She's working on a scarf now (almost done), and wants to do some dish cloths next.
Even I got in on the action as I learned to crochet along with Michelle.  I'd never been interested in learning to crochet before because it always looked sort of tedious and fiddly to me, so I only intended to learn enough that I could help her out if she got stuck somewhere once Grandma went home again.  Alas, I got hooked (pun only sort of intended).  I don't have any pictures, but I have crocheted a small pencil-pouch, some flowers, quite a few dishcloths, and am working on a garland for Christmas decorations now.  I also got out my sewing machine this summer and made some covers for Michelle and James' Bibles, both of which were looking a little worse-for-the-wear (which I guess is a good problem to have for a Bible!!)
I find that handicrafts work best for us when I don't try to schedule them….they just sort of ebb and flow with our life.  James is learning lots of 'handyman' skills by shadowing his Papa when he does fix-it jobs around the house.   All three of them float in and out of the kitchen to help as I cook, and the older two are starting to be able to follow recipes and make a few things on their own.   Papercrafting supplies are always available to them to make cards, books, stationary, little decorations, and they often do.  Michelle has learned the basic techniques for handsewing and crocheting and is often working on a hand-project of some kind during read-alouds.   

Handicrafts: simple, natural, beautiful, and useful. 
What kind of handicrafts have you enjoyed in your home?

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it beautiful how when you begin to pay attention to an area where you are deficient - really pay attention, ask for advice and help, after a small period of time, those deficiencies become a source of strength and beauty? Love this post.