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Handicraft Questions (and answers)

Fall and winter seem to be good seasons for handicrafts. There’s just something appealing about being in a warm, comfortable room and working with your hands while the wind blows outside. Thanks to Charlotte Mason for including handicrafts in her broad curriculum!

  1. Which handicrafts should I choose?

    Charlotte had two over-arching principles for handicrafts: useful and doable. Make sure the finished product will be something that can be used (not just displayed on the refrigerator and then tossed in the trash) and that is also well within the capabilities of your child — challenging, without being frustrating.

  2. How long should a handicraft project take?

    Finishing time will vary with each project, of course. But Charlotte gave us two important time factors to consider. First, teach the children “slowly and carefully what they are to do.” Second, make sure the child takes his time and does his best work. “Slipshod work should not be allowed,” she said (Vol. 1, p. 315).

  3. Is there some kind of handicraft schedule that I should follow?

    It might be nice to have several handicrafts in mind each year in order to keep learning new skills. But we’ve found that our resources, available time, and the children’s interests all come into play when determining which handicrafts we’ll do in any given term, so it’s good to be flexible.

  4. What if I don’t know how to do a handicraft that my child wants to learn?

    Not to worry. Look around for people within your extended family, neighborhood, or church who know the handicraft. Chances are they would love to share it with your child (and you!). You can also check your local library or shop online for how-to books and videos. And you could search the Internet for Web sites that specialize in the handicraft you’re interested in; many of them provide instructions and starter projects.

  5. Would home economics-type skills count as handicrafts?

    In Charlotte’s day the handicrafts were both a way to eventually earn money and to beautify a household, as well as a way to teach industriousness. So we include cooking, baking, sewing, and other “home skills” with our handicrafts. Here is a list of handicraft and home skill possibilities to stir your imagination.

What handicrafts does your family enjoy? Got any resources you would recommend for them? Leave a comment and let us know.

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6 Responses to “Handicraft Questions (and answers)”

  1. Amy C. October 18, 2007 at 6:19 am #

    Normally, I wouldn’t necessarily consider drawing a handicraft, but for Christmas this year I am having my 14 year old, who draws all the time, use his time in his art studio doing pencil drawings of two old photos of a grandparent on each side. The finished products will be framed and given to them as their Christmas gift. This has given him the impetus to really do his very best and take his time.
    Amy, Kentucky

  2. Tina October 18, 2007 at 5:49 pm #

    Some of the handicrafts we have done in the past include handmade cards, potholders made on a simple loom with loops, homemade soaps and candles, simple hand made items like rice warmers and aprons, decorated binders with recipes or pictures inside and simple ornaments made from gingerbread dough or hand painted glass balls. We often give our handicrafts as gifts for Christmas and birthdays.

  3. A.S. October 18, 2007 at 10:46 pm #

    My daughter is most eager to do handicrafts when she sees me doing them. When I first started to try to incorporate handicrafts into our curriculum, I tried to teach her “kid-friendly” handicrafts and then set aside designated times when she would do the handicraft each week. Inevitably she didn’t feel like doing that project, or wanted to do it but not at that time, or for some other reason handicrafts were just not being done. Then I started embroidering on my own for fun and suddenly she wanted to do it, too. Whenever I get out my embroidery, she wants to get hers out, too. And the same thing happened with knitting. This approach has led to projects/skills that are much more useful and are 1000 times more enjoyable for both of us.

  4. Jennifer October 19, 2007 at 7:50 pm #

    I’ve got young ones at home – 5 and 6.5 (girl and boy respectively), and find useful and do-able handicrafts to be a challenge to find. This year we’ve found modeling clay to keep our attention for several sessions – the latest involved making our own “Paddle to the Sea” (Holling) out of clay, others have been making animals from the books we are reading etc.

    I too find that my children both become engaged in whatever I am doing, so I try to do some hand craft during their day at least once each week. When I pulled out my sewing machine, I gave them both all my scraps and a needle and thread, and they played happily at that for an entire afternoon. Soon I hope to begin to train them in actual hand work and not play, but the play sparks their attention and interest.

    Now that the weather has turned, next up: knitting!

  5. Jacci M October 23, 2007 at 8:58 pm #

    I have young children as well, and a good “beginner” handicraft for us has been beading. There are bead kits everywhere these days, but I recommend choosing smaller, glass beads as opposed to large, chunky plastic ones. Also, I have the children choose a set pattern of beads to follow so the bracelets don’t wind up being a miss match of 50 different beads. The finished product looks so much better and the children feel like they have really made an attractive piece of jewelry instead of just a “craft”. We use clear elastic string and I tie the ends several times tightly for them. Then they trim the ends up. These were great Mother’s Day gifts for the grandmas :) My mom actually wears hers as jewelry :)

    Oh, one more thought! We’ve also done some very elementary hand sewing with making potpourri sachets. I cut two small rectangles of fabric with pinking shears (so there’s no unraveling). The children sew three sides together, turn it right side out, fill with potpourri, and tie closed with a thin ribbon to match the fabric. Fun Christmas gifts for the children to give :)

    Looking forward to more replies on this topic. Fun post, Sonya :)

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  1. Home Cooking » Handicraft Questions (and answers) - October 17, 2007

    […] Simply Charlotte Mason: Home wrote an interesting post today on Handicraft Questions (and answers)Here’s a quick excerpt Fall and winter seem to be good seasons for handicrafts. There’s just something appealing about … of them provide instructions and starter projects. Would home economics-type skills count as handicrafts … a household, as well as a way to teach industriousness. So we include cooking, baking, sewing, and other “ […]