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Crafts!

Crafts are one of the absolutely most fun things about childhood and, for me, librarianship.
Below are a couple of the books I turn to for inspiration when I’m developing programs to do here at the library and when I’m thinking about a Saturday afternoon at home.
My biggest two pieces of advice about crafting, regardless of your age:
First, it won’t look like the examples in the book. I’ve read a lot of craft books and follow several craft blogs, and the examples are (almost) never done by kids. So, don’t expect a perfect product–expect something wilder, stranger and more wonderful.
Second, scissors and glue can be tricky. Cutting along lines is harder to do that you might remember and glue is, well, sticky.
Nature’s Box: From T-shorts to Twig Baskets by Laura C. Martin
This book is perfect for Marin: collect sticks, plants, leaves, seed pods and then make dolls, houses, wands–you name it. Be careful not to take things from parks or protected areas (or your neighbors’ lawns unless you’re sure it’s OK), but you should be able to find plenty. My favorite two crafts in here are the corn husk people (you’ll have to buy the corn husks, they’re incredibly cheap and available at any Mexican grocery) and the bark, moss and pinecone houses. This book has instructions for specific projects, but it is more an invitation to play with materials and to use your imagination.
Magic Books & Paper Toys: Flip books, e-z popups & other paper playthings to amaze and delight by Esther K. Smith
I cannot say enough about this book. The projects look too mature and complicated for kids but I’ve found them, with a little tweaking and a letting go of expectation, to be exciting for kids of all ages and, in a library, it’s great to focus on paper and books. I always like to keep an eye on Esther’s website, http://www.purgatorypiepress.com/artistbooks.html, for examples of other books she’s done. (A related–and inspirational–blog to keep an eye on is http://www.bookmakingwithkids.com/. This one is great because it show the art that kids actually made.)
Kids Weaving by Sarah Swett
The projects in this book are more complicated but extremely satisfying. Swett starts with weaving projects that can be done without a loom, moves to ones that need a cardboard loom (including instructions on how to make a loom) and then a pipe loom (again, including construction guidance). The instructions are clear and realistic, the photographs show boys and girls weaving, and, even better, the projects are actually interesting.

-Erin

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