I’m often asked by parents how I can provide art projects to suit all ages when I hold group workshops.
Many fear the older children will become bored and the younger ones will be out of their depth.
The age range for group classes is four to 12. As children change so drastically in those years, the parents’ concerns are valid.
Parents can face the same challenge when planning parties that cater to various ages and incorporating arts and crafts as part of the fun.
Here are some tips to make art projects to suit all ages.
We have a bit of a tradition we do every year – a fairy party for the Goddesses and a couple of fellow grandmothers and their grands.
It’s been going for several years now and has had to change format a little to keep up with changes.
This year it officially became a fairy and elf party in honour of my grandson and a friend’s grandson who is joining the fun.
The biggest challenge is planning art projects to suit all ages.
With the oldest ‘fairy’ being nine and the youngest, two, it’s quite a challenge.
The biggest concern was that the nine-year-old would find the whole thing lame and totally uncool.
I’d hate for her to drop out as she’s been part of the tradition since it started.
The trick is to offer projects that even adults can enjoy but are still ‘doable’ for the little ones.
HOW TO MAKE ART PROJECTS TO SUIT ALL AGES – BRINGING OUT THE INNER CHILD
One thing I’ve noticed about these parties is that the other grans have as much fun as the kids. They love getting involved in the art projects especially.
Art tends to bring out your inner child. Once you’ve shrugged off the urge to worry about how ‘good’ your creation is, or what others think of it, you just have fun.
Kids heading into adolescence put loads of stress on themselves – worried about meeting their own, and other people’s expectations.
Providing art projects that are so absorbing and fun that they forget about these expectations, even if only for a few moments, is key.
HOW TO MAKE ART PROJECTS TO SUIT ALL AGES – CHOOSING THE PROJECTS
This year’s main arts and crafts activity was spatter painting. I knew the nine-year-old fairy would love this as I’d done it with a group of 11-year-olds for a birthday party and it was a major hit. Adults love this activity as well and little ones love anything with paint, making it one of the perfect art projects to suit all ages.
I set up the kids in the Wacky Workshops studio and provided each child with their own canvas sheet.
I had the youngest kids sit at a different table and then took them all through the steps to make a totally fun and amazing wildflower scene with spatter painting.
The tiniest tots just loved having access to lots of different coloured paints and a canvas to paint on.
The older children loved they were following steps but had enough room to show their own creative flair.
When the painting was done, all of the kids were given sequins and glue to add to their masterpieces.
Of course, every fairy and elf needs a wand. These were made by winding wool around a stick. Then the kids loaded beads onto a length of wire which we then wired onto the end of the sticks.
The fun mood had been set and even the older kids joined in the fun.
The final craft was to make tiny fairy doors. I had pre-cut the cardboard ‘doors’ and pre-cut decorative paper that could be glued to them. This is an important step to make art projects to suit all ages. Pre-prep means the projects are easily done by the younger kids.
Then I offered an array of embellishments so the kids could decorate them however they chose. This catered to the older kids’ desire to show their own creative flair.
HOW TO MAKE ART PROJECTS TO SUIT ALL AGES – WACKY CLASSES
I run my Wacky Workshops group classes the same way. All the pre-prep is done for the more challenging projects, meaning even the youngest student can come away with a wonderful creation. The older kids are happy they are not stuck with a boring job before they get to the fun of creating.
It takes the younger kids a little longer to complete some projects, but this gives the older students the chance to make adjustments, improvements and additions to their creations.
For instance, during a Halloween workshop, I might offer spooky houses as a creative project.
When the kids arrive, they’ll be able to choose from a bunch of boxes that have been spray-painted black, with doors and windows already cut out.
They choose their ‘house’, I’ll give them some tips for making them spooky and have the materials ready, and then I leave them to it. The younger students may need help with things like cutting, but as the harder cutting (the windows and doors) have already been done for them, they can concentrate on having fun.
One of the projects at my last Christmas workshop was to make a Santa from a sock. I pre-cut the socks, so they were ready to go and the kids had fun putting them together and adding specific features.
HOW TO MAKE ART PROJECTS TO SUIT ALL AGES – GREAT MATERIALS
When planning art projects to suit all ages, it’s important to consider the materials used in various projects and how easily younger kids can manage them.
When we made the little fairy wands, the kids had to load beads onto wire. I knew the little ones would end up dropping beads everywhere if I didn’t plan well.
I had small containers of beads on the tables (less to spill) and had pre-cut the wire and secured one bead to one end of each piece of wire, making it easier for the kids to manage.
Usually, when really little kids are participating, I steer clear of wire, as they can scratch themselves with it.
Some of the best materials to work with for art projects to suit all ages are paint and clay.
HOW TO MAKE ART PROJECTS TO SUIT ALL AGES – LET THEM PARTICIPATE IN DECISIONS
One of the fairies asked about some clay beads that were made by a student. I explained we were making jewellery. Her little eyes lit up and the nine-year-old was looking pretty impressed too. We decided that would be next year’s craft – fairy jewellery.
When I was planning the party bags, I was thinking of ways to minimise costs. I didn’t want bags full of junk food and useless bits and pieces.
I opted for tiny terracotta pots, containing everything they’d need to make their own fairy gardens (except the soil). I bought a few packets of seeds and divided the packets into a tiny parcel for each child. Each pot also contained some stickers (to decorate the pot), pebbles, (for drainage), a stick (to poke holes for planting seeds), pixie dust (to add a little magic) and fairy elf/moss (this was spag moss coloured green with food colouring – decorative and helps to keep the soil moist).
I felt it needed an ornament, so I made a bunch of tiny toadstools (for fairy seating) and hearts (because everything needs love to grow) from clay. If you want some tips on planning parties on a budget, read my post, How to Host a Children’s Party.
The mushrooms and hearts would be another fun activity for the kids to make next time around.
HOW TO MAKE ART PROJECTS TO SUIT ALL AGES – HELPFUL TIPS
- Take the time to do a bit of pre-prep so that the projects are easy for the little ones.
- Consider the materials you plan to use and how easy/hard they are to manipulate.
- Plan projects that young children can manage but still leave plenty of room for creative expression for older children.
- Let the children help plan and decide what to make
Don’t let age difference put you off planning fun and creative activities at your next party.
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Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.