I have always enjoyed creating things with my hands. When my daughters were younger we did all kinds of fun arts and crafts projects. I had a cabinet full of craft supplies of every color of felt, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, foam sheets, googly eyes, stickers, you name it. We would create things out of paper plates, toilet paper tubes, and old shoeboxes. The amount of craft projects we produced had grown so much I was completely overwhelmed by them. I was shoving art projects in every open nook and cranny in my house and I was quickly running out of room. It was around that time that I discovered Charlotte Mason. I was drawn to so many of her teachings. The thing I loved learning about most was her view on crafts, or handicrafts as she calls them.
What are handicrafts?
Handicrafts are simply anything created skillfully by hand for a purpose. They can include sewing, embroidery, cross stitch, needle felting, weaving, soap making, knitting, crochet, wood carving, clay sculpting, and the list goes on. I loved the idea of learning a skill and using it to make useful creations. I wanted my girls to create beautiful things that also serve a purpose. I was so tired of all the crafts that inevitably got filed away in the trash can. I was ready to make the switch.
When to Introduce Handicrafts
You can introduce handicrafts at an early age if you like. Even at two and three years old your child can practice lacing large beads, manipulate clay and play dough, and even sew!
I introduced my daughters to handicrafts when they were 3 and 5. We started simple with basic sewing and weaving. I showed them a running stitch on a wooden embroidery board and a plain weave on a weaving loom. We worked on building those skills slowly over time. Before long, my oldest daughter made herself a small purse using the loom. She was so proud of herself and felt such a sense of accomplishment. Not only did she create a beautiful purse, but she developed a new skill! And not to mention she practiced fine motor skills, patience, and concentration. I was hooked on handicrafts at this point.
How to Start
You can begin handicrafts without any prior knowledge or experience. Any handicraft you would like to try, there is a video tutorial on how to do it. There are countless tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube on various handicrafts.
There are also many how to books available. I love checking out a few handicraft books from the library to see what I like. When we started with embroidery I knew a few basic stitches, but when I began to teach my girls I wanted to learn more. So I checked out some embroidery books at the library. I found this one I really loved and bought it off of Amazon. I also found an awesome tutorial on Pinterest on how to make a basic stitch sampler. My daughters and I watched as we stitched, paused the videos if we needed more time, and rewound if we needed to see it again. It made teaching and learning so easy.
Handicrafts We Love
Over the past few years, I have brought in more handicrafts to our homeschool. My girls love embroidery, cross stitch, needle felting, sewing, clay modeling, weaving, and candle making. Handicrafts have become such an important part of our days. We like to work on them during read-alouds or sometimes just to get a break from academics. Some days we spend an hour creating and other days just a few minutes. I like to keep handicrafts simple and casual. I want my girls to view them as enjoyable and relaxing. I never want it to feel like work. I want them to be able to be as creative as they want. Sometimes they will come to me with an idea for a project and ask for advice on how they should begin. I will help gather supplies and give them my opinion on how I would start. Sometimes they will take my advice, and sometimes they choose to try their own way. I love that they are confident in their learned skills and creativity.
Our Favorite Handicraft Supplies
We have gathered quite a bit of handicraft supplies over the years. I’ve rounded up some of our favorites to share if you would like to give handicrafts a try.
Embroidery & Cross Stitch
If you’re just starting out I would recommend these embroidery and wooden cross stitch ornament kits I linked below. The kits include all you need to start and finish the projects. I think it helps to get a kit to start out with to see if your child enjoys it before buying a lot of supplies. I also love these sweet wooden animal cross stitch kits.
Once your child expresses an interest and wants to do more they can create their own designs. I love the embroidery book I linked below. It has so many designs to choose from. Just trace the design on tracing paper with a transfer pencil and iron the traced design onto fabric. They can also draw a design directly onto fabric with these wash out fabric markers.
I recommend using cookie cutters or felt molds on a felting mat when first trying out needle felting. This helps you get the feel of how to use the needles. I also recommend these finger guards for protecting children’s fingers while needle felting. The needles are very sharp! You can also use small tongs to hold onto felting projects while needle felting.
Weaving is one of the more simple handicrafts in that you only really need yarn and a loom. I like to get a large pack of a various colored yarn. I love this weaving loom for beginners. This lap loom is a little larger.
Our favorite clay to work with is polymer clay. This clay doesn’t dry out or harden until you bake it. We typically use Sculpey brand polymer clay. There are sets of colors or you can also get white or terracotta. I love it because my daughters can work on projects for several days without worrying they might dry out. For larger projects we like to use this air dry clay. A tool set is also good to have when working with clay.
I think candle making is one of the easiest handicrafts. Especially if you use one of the beeswax candle rolling kits.
Other Handicraft Supplies
I love everything from Benzie Design! They specialize in felt, wool roving, and all things needle art. They have so many beautiful colors you can’t find in craft stores. I’ve purchased several felt sheets, embroidery floss, and wool roving bunches from them. The quality is amazing! And they also have so many cute patterns and kits! You can also check out my Amazon shop to see some of my other handicraft supply recommendations.
I like to store embroidery hoops and yarn in baskets for easy access. I use this galvanized divided container to store our wool roving by color. I use photo boxes for felt, fabric, and extra wool roving. I love this bamboo box set for holding small supplies and handicrafts we’re working on.
Making gifts from handicrafts for family and friends is a great way to practice skills without accumulating too many things.
This year we are making a list of gifts to make for each family member for Christmas. Using a variety of handicraft skills my girls will be creating memorable gifts for their loved ones. They are being very particular about what to make for each person. Taking into account their favorite things. It’s so sweet to watch them get excited about making something special for their family.
Don’t Make It Difficult
Handicrafts should be enjoyable for your family. Your child might really enjoy working with clay and completely uninterested in any kind of needle work. I always think it’s a good idea to try a few out to see what your child enjoys. Then go from there.
Every day homeschooling can bring new challenges. Some days my girls are just not in the mood to complete math studies or spelling lessons. Some days they get frustrated over grasping a new concept. And some days are just rough because both girls are feeling irritable for one reason or another. But the one thing I can always count on is that when it is time for handicrafts they are both excited and more than ready to start. Handicrafts has brought so much comfort and enjoyment to our homeschool.