By Jane Muller
I associate the sound of scissors cutting through construction paper with Mr. Dressup and the craft projects he demonstrated on his long-running television show.
It’s a rhythmic seesawing sound as the blades snip along a deliberate path that transforms a simple piece of paper. Mr. Dressup was a master of cutting and pasting and inspired his young viewers to work their own magic with scissors and paper. The act of making things by hand, be it paper chain decorations at Christmas time, greeting cards or simple snowflake cut-outs, should not be underrated. Creating crafts helps kids and the rest of us in so many ways. It is a vehicle for self-expression, fine motor skill development, visual processing and improving focus and concentration.
Christmas and the associated holiday season is a time of year that lends itself to crafting. Depending on your level of commitment, your children’s age and guarantee of engagement, handmade gifts can be simple and quick or complex and time-consuming. One year when I was “between jobs” I took on a massive sewing project, producing tote bags for a group of six friends. That was manageable only because I had loads of time.
Last year the ornaments I made for the same group had me nursing self inflicted glue gun wounds. No wonder crafting instructions that require hot glue caution that kids should not be doing that part of the project. Kids who receive art and craft related gifts will have something to keep them busy while they are off school.
Cool Stuff features gift ideas for all ages and interests including a selection of books for art lovers that provide instruction for lettering and word design as well as portrait drawing. Also on the list of gifts that will fuel creativity is a pack of gel pens, Lego building blocks an electronic journal and a Karaoke machine.
Culinary arts are also highlighted this season as so many Christmas and other holiday traditions feature festive food and drink. We’ve included a tour of Christmas around the world and some of the taste experiences that you might want to try like making a Yule log, a tradition with roots in France. There is also some inspiration for crafts like paper bag lanterns from Mexico and Chinese paper chains.
We’re decorating our area of the office with paper snowflakes this year and coincidentally, one of the books reviewed in On the Bookshelf is all about snowflakes. “The Snowflake Mistake” is a celebration of imperfection and difference and that aptly describes the snowflakes that my scissors are poised to design. There are paper-folding instructions in the back of the book so I won’t have to search for help online.
Snip, snip, snip, let it snow.