Why Do Most/All Kids Like Craft Projects?

I passed a school last night that had just about every window festooned with various pieces of little-kid handiwork. And I’ve never seen a little kid who wasn’t totally into coloring, cutting and pasting, etc.

Some moderate proportion of the adult public likes and pursues arts/crafts. But certainly it’s not everyone.

Why are kids, in particular, “more artistically inclined” (though usually pretty crappy at it, as Maddox points out) than the adult population?

I think the question is more ‘why don’t more adults like craft projects?’ Because we all knew as kids that creating things was neat. Those construction and glitter projects were just practice for going on to be potters, quilters, carpenters, architects, fashion designers, etc. Unfortunately, due to the mass manufacturing world we now live in, we don’t need as many people to be creators, so we actively discourage it in most kids as they get older, either by implying that they aren’t good at it or that they shouldn’t expect to make a living by it.

I’m not trying to be That Poster, but I really truly horribly hated craft projects. They were and are total make work. I guess if I were inspired by a genuine artistic impulse I would have been interested in them but I had neither the talent or inspiration for them. Why go to all the trouble to do something that probably won’t work out anyway when the end result will be at best something someone else told you to make?

I wasn’t going to say it, but since Ludovic has decided to be That Poster I’ll join him and say I hated craft projects too. Every term we had a string of projects we had to do (collages, egg carton crocodiles, make a bushfire by throwing paint on some paper, etc) and by the end of every term I’d be 4-5 projects behind everyone else, and I wouldn’t finish them and I’d get a C for art. I’m not sure if I hated them because I was always behind, or if I worked so damn slow because I hated them, but either way I’d rather have been doing math. Ironically, I’m now an illustration major.

If pressed to give a reason why most kids love crafts in school, I’d venture “because it’s not math”.

'Cause it’s fun to play with glitter and put your hands in the paint?

True, but all the kids I’ve known like doing this stuff at home, too (duly noting the exceptions who’ve already popped up herein).

Because there’s an element of “Look, I did it myself!” with a tangible end product. Sure a kid can win at Nintendo, but once the game’s over, what do you have to show off? Nothing. With crafts you get something that hangs on the fridge or hold cigarette ashes, and everytime you look at it, or see someone else looking at it, you get that feeling of pride of ownership.


What are you talking about? Every adult likes making things. For some, it’s steaks. Others, bridges. Still others (like myself), chess puzzles. Kids like tiny arts and crafts because it’s something they can handle relatively well. Give a teen some wood and nails and they’ll go to town too. Once they’re a little older, they pick their craft (skill).

Adults don’t paint pictures for the same reason we’re not entertained by rattles.

As an artist, I can verify that this is the motivation behind 99 percent of all creativity . . . the ability to point to something and say, “Hey, look what I can do!”

I was the kid who excelled in both art and math. Boy, was I hated!

When you’re growing up you are oblivious to life and responsibilities as an adult. As a kid, you’re parents take you to school and you do what you are told to stay out of trouble. Some of us of course hated doing these projects, but since the entire classroom is also doing these things it can’t hurt to tag along and show everyone what you are made of. It’s a chance at doing something independently for once (though there are some group projects). It’s also better than getting an F.

Now, I’m sure it may seem like all/most of these kids truly enjoy doing these activities, but most of them do not enjoy it. Next time you observe this, try finding out how many of these kids are happy, smiling, laughing, etc… while doing the project, and then find how many of them are just staring into space, being sloppy, crying, pouting, etc… The truth is that deep down most kids weren’t interested in these things, but they did it because they wanted to fit in, were peer pressured, needed to get a passing grade, and just get it over with.

I must say though, this will vary depending on the kids’ ages. The majority of the younger one’s will enjoy it more than the older ones.

I remember this one assignment from a 6th grade Art Class. “Without looking at your reflection, draw your self portrait”… haha… I love that one… NOT!

I hated crafts.

Because kids don’t waste their time thinking about mortgages and deadlines and trans-fats.

Like Uncle Buck said: “I don’t think I want to know a six-year-old who isn’t a dreamer.”

There’s a big difference between, sigh, sixth grade art class and pre-school finger painting. I’d say nearly all (except the soulless people who have conveniently revealed themselves herein) little kids love fingerpainting and glitter and making Lincoln cabins in February with pretzel sticks and milk cartons.

Could there also be an element of “lack of failure” that causes this in most cases? (Not all as some posters pointed out. And not all teachers/parents are non-critical.) I mean, when you’re gluing popsicle sticks together there’s really no wrong answer. So every thing you do is encouraged as not only “right” but lots of times “complete creative genius.” In other aspects of life, even for a small kid, this phenomenon doesn’t exist. There’s definitely a right way to put your clothes on and a right way to do a math problem. You’re rarely applauded for creativity in other endeavors.

“Oh look! Johnny missed the toilet again! How creative!”

It’s my experience that giving adults permission to fail or just be bad at something creates a more enthused and entertained adult. I’ve taught local adult education classes on both knitting and writing. People who truly want to put the effort into learning a craft show up with the attitude that it’s some difficult, magical thing that requires loads of talent. They’re convinced that they can’t do it and that they’ll create something yucky. When they’re told, “No, anyone can learn. And hey, you made this hat all by yourself and it only had ONE hole in it!” they change their tunes quickly and get a more “childlike” benefit from having something they made with their own hands.

A serious question to posters who didn’t like crafts: what would you have preferred to do instead?

I enjoyed the projects that were fun and allowed me to be creative. Some projects were either stupid, rigid, or both. Those sucked.

Sorry to get all serious on you guys, but it’s not make work. If you’re talking about younger elementary school, it teaches colors, counting, motor skills (scissors, etc.), it reveals the imagination and intelligence (depending on the project) of a child who sometimes might not shine during regular class time. As the kids get older, it teaches doing something on your own, and it demonstrates to one kid how another kid might draw the same thing somewhat differently.

A recent survey* confirmed that 100% of children enjoy doing craft projects, and if they are not given structured crafts or craft materials, they will utilize common household objects like the book on your nightstand, shampoo, your slippers, and the bathtup.
*sample size: my two preschoolers


Also, in line with a few earlier posts, I did mean pre-school and kindergarten age projects, which kids do seem to do even when not at school, not the “mandatory fine arts requirement” stuff that older kids often dislike.

I’m a cub scout den leader with about nine 8 year old boys. I’d say that more than half of the boys like doing crafts.

Our meetings are usually only an hour long, so after handing out patches and beads and such, there is maybe enough time to one activity. When I announce that we’re doing a craft that evening, more than half (I rarely have all 9 of them there at the same time) cheer. A couple will be indifferent and 1 or two will groan. The ones that groan would usually rather be playing games. Every so often we have to have a “talky” meeting. No one likes those.

A lot of the boys who like the crafts don’t like the game meetings. A lot of that comes from a lack of self confidence. They don’t want to play the games because “they know that they will lose.” Or they are afraid of being embarrassed by how badly they perform. I try to provide some games that have no winners/losers but that’s not fair to the the few that can win and deserve to do so every once in awhile.

I try to keep an even mix of games and crafts to keep everyone happy, but when it’s raining out or it is bitterly cold, you don’t have much choice.

At a cub scout camp out a few weeks ago, someone who works for a mill shop (they make baseboards and door frames and such) brought a lot of scrap lumber for the camp fire. Some of the boys (my sons, in particular) had more fun building towers and bridges with that scrap wood than shooting BB guns.