Once you've explored what NOT to do when it comes to crafting in 10 Things to Avoid When Starting a Craft Project, what are some things you can do to ensure a positive experience for you and your child? Here are seven to get you started, but I'll bet you can easily think of more.
1. Make Yourselves Comfortable
Make sure your crafting table is at a comfortable height for you and your child. If you need to, provide two different work surfaces, one that's comfortable for each of you. A smaller, lower folding table and chair might be best for a young child, while you work alongside on a surface better suited to your own size. Put a cushion on a chair to both raise your child to the proper height and make it more comfortable to sit.
2. Provide Adequate Light
You may need to purchase some special lighting, depending on what kind of craft you're doing. My husband, who's a professional leather artist, uses a magnifying lamp to do certain tasks. I uses a small adjustable desk lamp to do some beading.
This an easy one to overlook, but can make all the difference. Lighting that may be fine for family dining might not be bright enough for picking up small beads on the end of a needle. You may need to add additional lighting with a clamp-on lamp or a floor lamp you can move to the work area and put away when you're not crafting.
If you're working during the day, try to introduce some natural light, since that's the best of all, but you don't want it glaring you in the face.
As part of your project planning, analyze the lighting situation and make adjustments. Ask your child if she's comfortable with the lighting and can see adequately.
3. Understand Your Basic Materials
If you're planning on doing a lot of crafting (or even if you're not), it's worth the effort to understand the differences between paints, glues, scissors, papers, and other basic tools and materials.
Look for books on crafts materials, as well. There's a book available just on the subject of glues called The Crafter's Guide to Glues by Tammy Young that helps you decipher all those different chemical names and choose the right glue for the task. Usually, beginner's books for a particular craft will cover materials and tools. Read these sections carefully and then talk to your local crafts supplier. There may be new and better products on the market.
I've found a wealth of information on various crafts forums (which are on CompuServe) and newsgroups online (such as the ones on America Online). There's a newsgroup or mailing list for just about any craft you can imagine.
4. Hone Your Skills Before You Start a Project
Many times it's best to concentrate on mastering a basic skill before you try to apply it; for example, learn to hammer a nail before you try to build a birdhouse. Give your child an opportunity to practice on something non-threatening, like a piece of scrap wood, before tackling an actual project where it "counts."
Kids get a real kick out of practicing skills like hammering and sawing anyway. (Anything that makes noise, right?) You may also want to choose projects that are skills-oriented, developing one level at a time. In learning beading, for instance, it sometimes helps to start with simple stringing techniques first, so you can learn the basic tools and develop an eye for color and design. Then you can graduate to the more difficult techniques. Allow time just for learning, without any specific goal in mind.