Making Time for Crafts in the Primary Classroom

Ahhh, crafts. If you’re a teacher of littles, crafts can be hard to squeeze into your lesson plan. We know how it goes… There are SO many standards to hit, and so little time. It can be really tricky to find even just a few extra minutes to make a craft with your kiddos. But we also know that crafts are beloved by students and excite them far more than any worksheet ever could. What’s a teacher to do?! Come along to find out!

The Case for Crafts: Let’s Talk Benefits

When it comes to teachers and crafts, the relationship is complicated. Some of us LOVE crafts and want to include them every month, without question. Others might not know how they could possibly add them to their routine. After all, who has time for anything else in their already jam-packed days?!

I see both of these viewpoints, along with one more… simply put, children love participating in crafts. For most kiddos, crafts and art projects offer a way to get creative, be a little messy, and take a “break” from other typical school tasks. With this knowledge, it’s impossible to ignore the opportunity in front of us.

Use crafts to benefit your student's learning by offering them ways to be creative while learning.

If students love crafts already, why not use them as a method to strengthen skills and learning? Crafts are a simple way to help your students showcase some new information they’ve learned, strengthen writing skills, or share their opinions on a topic. They promote individuality, add some sparkle to an ordinary day, and even help target fine motor skills too!

Not to mention, crafts can actually save you time in other ways. Yes, that’s right! Another huge benefit to making time for crafting is that you’ll never have to worry about planning a bulletin board display either. Simply use your monthly craft as the display and you’re good to go. Take it one step further and save those crafts for student portfolios. The craft has now served 3 separate purposes and saved you a ton of time!

Are you sold yet? I sure hope so! Meaningful crafts deserve a place in the primary classroom. The key is to choose crafts that aren’t just fluff and have some added learning benefits too! Going this route will bring the best of both worlds together.

Skills to Target with Crafts

With some careful consideration, you can use crafts to target a variety of skills and thus, make the most of your time and energy. Some of my favorite skills to work on through crafting include:

  • tracing and printing
  • name writing
  • shape identification
  • opinion writing
  • math skills (shapes, counting, etc.)
  • recalling facts about specific topics
  • sharing science topics (life cycles, seasonal changes, etc.)

Now, while you might not be able to hit on all of these skills in one single craft, you can choose crafts for the whole year that will touch on a variety of skills.

Target specific skills with crafts including name writing, math skills, recalling facts, and much more to enhance the learning in your classroom.

For example, in the fall I like to use a shape scarecrow craft, then in the winter, I will use a gingerbread craft with a writing prompt, and finally a chicken life-cycle spinner craft in the spring.

This variety helps keep craft time fun and interesting for students too!

And keep in mind that no matter what other skill you’re targeting with your craftivity, your students are also getting practice with fine motor skills, and following directions too!

These are important skills in the primary classroom and valuable lessons all on their own.

When to Include Crafts

Now, on to the practical application. How do we make time for crafts in the classroom? By choosing crafts that also target another subject, like science, writing, or both, you’ll be able to work crafts easily into your schedule. For example, when you’re learning about the life cycle of frogs, what better way to close out your lesson than with a fun craft that includes a life cycle spinner? This activity is meaningful and will help your students retain what they’ve learned!

When you use crafts like these and align them with curriculum in your classroom it's easy for you to fit in some creative time into your learning objectives.

Or maybe you’ve just spent a lot of time learning all about apples and you’d like your students to take a moment of reflection and pick out some of their favorite facts. An apple-themed writing craft is the perfect way to tie the entire unit together. The best part about this is that it also encourages individuality. No two art projects will be the same!

Making time for crafts is simple when they focus on deeper learning, understanding, and retention. It’s not fluff, friends! Meaningful crafts help our students think about what they’ve learned and hang on to it well beyond the lesson period. Plus, if you’re a fan of thematic teaching, they’re a wonderful way to close out a unit!

Tips for a Smooth Craft Time Experience

Once you’ve decided to use crafts in the classroom, I recommend thinking about how and when you’ll use them. For some teachers, whole group sessions make the most sense. This might work well in classrooms where children are a bit more independent, and have had experience with scissors, glue, and crafting prior.

In a classroom with very young learners, small group settings might make more sense. No matter what you choose, make sure to spend some time going over expectations for craft materials and clean up afterward. By laying the ground rules, you’ll be able to ensure craft time goes smoothly every time!

In my classroom, on any day we did a craft, we always spent a few extra minutes picking up the classroom and double-checking that things were tidy afterward. I assigned some students to check glue bottle caps while asking others to scour the floor for paper scraps. This might seem like an extra step, and it is, but it’s worth it to teach students to be respectful of the classroom and materials.

Using Crafts All Year Long

Once you’ve seen the magic of crafts in action, I know you’ll be hooked. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably want to use them all year long! I mean, who wouldn’t want to implement a new and engaging way to support student learning? Crafts do just that, and they keep our lessons feeling fresh.

Because of this, I made a huge bundle of crafts to align with our centers and support thematic teaching all year long. No matter what you’re working on, I think it’s a safe bet that I have a craft for that! Some of the crafts included in this bundle are:

  • Watercolor Name Craft
  • Apple & Pumpkin Crafts
  • Community Helpers Toolbox
  • Scarecrow Shape Craft
  • Squirrel Math Craft 
  • Turkey Writing Craft
  • Gingerbread Writing Craft and more!

This bundle is jam-packed with seasonal crafts and writing prompts that will carry you through the entire year. Take a peek at this video for a closer look at some of the fun, seasonal crafts included in this bundle!

Your students will look forward to monthly craftivities, and I know you will too! Check out the full bundle here, and simplify your crafts for the entire year and help your students stay engaged in learning.

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