I love looking at pictures of Pinterst fails. Not to make fun of them, but because I can relate. I am decidedly not a crafty person. Whenever I try some cute craft or confection, they just don’t come out right. But you’ll be wanting to see my credentials.
For Talk Like a Pirate Day a few years back, I found this really cute handprint art:
So I tried it out with my first graders. Ours came out like this:
Now, those are just frightening.
Another time, I tried to make ghosts by dipping pretzel rods into white candy I melted on the stove. I got some water in the candy, and got a goopy mess. Another time I tried to make cinnamon dough ornaments and got a goopy mess. Then there was the time I attempted leaf-print art and instead of getting nice prints the leaves crumbled and the prints looked like wispy blobs. Or the time we painted “fish bowls” with corn syrup and the syrup just wouldn’t dry.
I’ll go ahead and insert my disclaimer now: this post isn’t about bashing Pinterest moms and teachers. If you enjoy and are good at making intricate cupcake decorations and designing darling birthday invitations, go for it. Do whatever you enjoy. This simply isn’t the article for you.
This article is for all the moms and teachers who feel the pressure to make everything cute and adorable, but just can’t do it. Our hearts are in the right place, but our fingers and materials won’t cooperate. This article is to help you feel better about your incompetence.
Sometimes, when going for cute, you can fake it. I’m a big fan of printables. If I need a worksheet for my class, I’ll see if I can find a “cute” version one line. Many talented people have made lots of cute things, like spelling sheets, word sorts, and the like. Teachers Pay Teachers and other websites even have stuff you can get for free.
I’m also a big believer in kid art. I love putting up my students’ art in the classroom. It makes the room look fun and inviting. Kids love to see their work up, and parents and visitors like looking at it, too.
When you do an art project with your kids, you are faced with a choice: do you micromanage them so they do it “right,” or do you just let them have fun? Of course, sometimes when you just let them go, you get results like my pirates pintrosity. But you also get awesome work like this:
I showed my students Picasso’s The Three Musicians, and had them create their own musicians inspired by Picasso’s. Of course, not all the paintings turned out well, but they learned so much more and expressed themselves more than if I had dictated every step to them.
And let’s be real. Which project will be more memorable to the kids? What they’re really going to remember is how fun it is to get their hands covered in paint.
They’ll also learn from the failures. They’ll learn that ideas don’t always work out the way you expect them to, but that’s okay, too. You can try again or just try something else.
Then there’s the subject of parties. You can make everything themed, with invitations, decorations, and treats all themed perfectly and looking adorable. And taking up way too much time considering those cake pops you spent hours on are going to be eaten in about 5 minutes.
I”ll be honest. All kids want at a party is to eat and play. If you provide for those two things, they will be happy. For my class parties, I pull out the bean bag toss and BINGO, print some coloring pages, and ask parents to bring food. And the kids think it’s the best day ever.
Kids don’t need anything fancy to have fun.
Pinterest-perfect birthdays and crafts aren’t really for the kid’s sake at all. It’s for the sake of the person who created it and wants praise for their skills and creativity. As I stated earlier, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just want to point it out so people who don’t have the time, money, or skills to do it feel like they need to do it in order to be a good mom or a good teacher.
The most important thing for kids is to be present for them. Pay attention to them. Have fun with them. Care about them. That’s going to mean more to them than anything else. That’s what they’ll remember.