OK, so I have seen some great memes doing the round and there’s a few fantastic photos of collapsed cakes and questionable crafting out there. Don’t let a fear of not being able to make everything picture perfect put you off trying some of the great children’s activities out there though. Because when it comes to kids, there’s really no such thing as a Pinterest fail.
Certain ‘Pinterest fails’ and ‘nailed it’ images have given us all good chuckle and made me at least feel a bit more normal. I’ve truly had my share of baking disasters, craft chaos and not so bright ideas. I could supply plenty of photo-hilarity! I am particularly famed around here for forgetting to add vital ingredients to basic recipes. Trust me, waffles without eggs, playdough without salt and cakes without baking powder don’t work and have all occurred on more than one occasion.
Thankfully though we don’t need to be photograph-ready all the time. There’s tones of great resources out there to help us fill our days and make special moments that little bit more special; games, crafts, skills builders, and tones of cooking fun of course. And when it comes to making things with and for children they really don’t care about perfection. Half the time activities are all about the process anyway.
It’s a Learning Process
Last autumn I thought it would be a great idea to make pumpkin cloud dough. It sounded fabulous in the description. What could be more wholesome than children engaging in seasonal sensory play with a fine selection of materials? Yuk! While it might have mixed up fine to start with and looked pretty, it smelt and felt gross. A dank, cold mound which the color from the candy corn quickly bled into. My already picky kids refused point blank to touch it. Probably not an activity I’ll be repeating!
But you know what? It didn’t matter. There was a process involved. We got out in our rainboots in the morning and found the acorns and leaves for the dough. A wet afternoon was filled with measuring and pouring and stirring, exclaiming and laughing. They had to hunt the objects with spoons instead of their hands but we passed the time having fun together. And I dumped the revolting mess straight after that.
It’s an Experience
Pictures are only one moment in time and anything you try to replicate is obviously going to be a much longer story. As you may have noticed, I’m very fond of sensory bins for entertaining my boys. I anticipate of hours of quiet, contained play when I set them up but that is generally pretty far from reality. These look so great in the ‘before picture’ but the play and the aftermath are always far from the internet image. Take a look at the ‘after picture’ at the and of our Shark Week Sensory Small World. Thank goodness that one was done outside! Needless to say the kids had a blast and that was the important bit.
There wasn’t too much focused pumpkin harvesting with this one either. It was certainly fun though.
It’s Something You’ve Done for Them
Ok, so baking a cake for their birthday isn’t really about the process (unless you work on it together of course!) but it isn’t about perfection either though. I can make a respectable effort at baking but am really not great at cake decorating. Over the years I managed to produce a number of presentable birthday cakes but I’ve also had a few, er, hiccups. Thankfully the children just don’t see the mess.
This Lego caked was going to be so simple! Bake two rectangular chocolate sponges, stick Oreos on top and cover in pre made frosting. Job done.
But no! Someone didn’t read the instructions properly and thought they could skip a few of the steps of the ones they did read! Turns out you really do need to freeze the sponge first so the dark crumbs don’t turn the frosting a revolting shade of lumpy ick… I didn’t even bother to take a decent photograph because I was so disappointed. However, the birthday boy didn’t notice – he loved the homemade Lego effort, none of the party-goers complained and everyone ate a slice. The next year I got store-bought but it certainly wasn’t the end of my baking and decorating adventures. There’s been a train cake and puppy cake and plenty of cupcakes since, I can’t help but get drawn in to giving it a go.
Not all my cooking and crafting capers can be blamed on Pinterest of course. I’m a sucker for an easy looking kit and I could post endless pictures of snacks and meals that look nothing like their cookbook counterpart photographs. Gingerbread houses aren’t always my finest moments. Luckily some bright spark shared the idea of adding a dinosaur to the fallen confectionary and all those problems were solved! Food made by children isn’t meant to look like the picture on the box, there needs to be room for their creativity and developing skills. My sons thought adding their toys to the mix was a riot though…
Mistakes are Part of Life
One of the best reasons for giving these projects a go, of course, is that it’s important for children to see our mistakes They need to know it’s ok to make and learn from their own mistakes. While teaching I’ve seen many children not want to start work for fear of getting it wrong. I always try to let pupils see me make errors and help me correct them and working with my own children is no different.
So what have I learnt? No matter what we’re making, allow enough time. I always, always make mistakes while rushing. Read the instructions properly; skim reading is part of that rush. With Internet ideas, consider if the pictures actually look believable. Are the images realistic and does that matter? And if you want to give something a try, do it! Because of course, sometimes it even works out! Even if it is on the second, third or forth attempt…
So hands up? Who’s got ‘learning experience’ photos to share below? And what are you brave enough to try next? I hope there’s some great projects out there for us.