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What's new in various product categories; monthly update.

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What Do Kids Want?

Crafts as we know them -- or technology.

by CLN Subscribers, (July 3, 2006)

Kids want "messy".

Ive been teaching crafts to kids during school breaks for years. The kids have a choice whether they want to pay a small fee for the class or not do it. The most popular classes are the messiest and those with the most color choices. Laurie Dambrosio

Why 4-H is crafty.

As a parent of one grown son who was brought up with lots of craft supplies and lots of outdoor play, I am pleased to report that he plans to bring his children up the same way. My sister is an active 4-H leader and a 4-H camp crafts instructor on a budget. High-tech stuff won't be affordable for this group. There are a lot of important motor skills that children need to learn and she has already noticed many children who come to 4-H camp without prior 4-H experience do not know how to use scissors, do not know how to measure and find certain craft techniques difficult.

Sadly even among 4-H members we see less creative crafting and advanced sewing skills as the number of skilled adult volunteers in our area dwindle. At the state 4-H Fashion Show we expect to see teens with prom gowns they have made themselves or tailored two-piece suits they can wear to college interviews. We used to see boys who had sewn their own hunting jackets.

What I think the toy and craft industry has to remember is that the skills children learn during play should lead to more highly proficient skills they will use as adults. In 4-H we also remember that not all children have access to high tech; their family budgets might not allow it. The child who learns to knit with basic, affordable yarn can later use the same skills as an adult to knit with high quality yarns. The child who can't afford a high-tech craft just gets left behind.

Mom's craft supplies were always handy for those school projects that required extra creativity for a top grade. Don't teachers still assign homework to make a sock puppet or a shoebox diorama?

My sister reports that bead weaving continues to be very popular at camp. Even the college-age counselors want to make bracelets. Leslie Selig of Darice is right. Kids love making things. They love color and paint and beads and plastic lacing where the emphasis is on creativity, not simply putting together some manufacturer's components.

What many adults also fail to appreciate is the degree of interaction that should take place among children. Children should learn to help each other tie knots, string beads, and share tools. Teaching each other and sharing are very important skills for a child to learn.

In our area, by the time a 4-H member becomes a teenager they can join a county Junior Leaders Club. We expect them to be able to do things like plan an important function, make table and auditorium decorations, and speak in public. Those kids have to know how to use glue guns and paint as well as the skills necessary to compose invitations and design program covers.

In the fall we expect to start a 4-H club specializing in creative crafts. We're not going to have much of a budget to begin with, but high-tech is furthest from my goals. I want to start off with projects that will help a child understand how to mix color and coordinate designs that will look great in their homes. They are going to be decorating their own homes some day.

We'll probably do some fabric painting. After all, what kid doesn't want to paint a tee shirt? I also expect to visit at least one artist's studio each year so kids realize that some people do make art a career. (We have a local master calligrapher and I know she has an entire collection of Xyron machines.)

Frankly, as a fairly new grandmother of one, soon to be two, I don't plan on buying any high-tech craft materials. I'd much rather take a nice walk to the river with my grandchildren and decide what to do with those interesting rocks we find. Donna M. Frost, Quarry House Distributors.

(Note: Is high-tech just a passing fad for kids or is it here to stay, like video games appear to be? Email your thoughts to CLN at mike@clnonline.com. To read previous "Category Reports, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)



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