My Advent calender activity of the day was to play with felt. I thought we could make cute little felt ornaments like I had seen in the Christmas crafts books that Woody and I got at the library last week. I bookmarked those pages and made a little sample one, a brown bear, after they went to bed one night. I thought they were really going to like this.
I had already cut out felt shapes to help them get started. I had the embroidery floss ready and the big needles. And I sat down with all three of them--Woody, Fox, and Aila--to see what we could make.
Fox arranged white circles on an orange background and called it a snowman missing his head. Woody first wanted to make a mask, but I said no. (I wonder at that now: why did I call the activity "playing with felt" and then say no to what he wanted to play? At the time, I got a vision in my mind of a very large and complex project that I did not have the resources for. But I didn't ask him what he had in mind. I just said no. A lost opportunity for me.) Next he designed a sun dial with four colored triangles and a white circle center. Aila put together a cat face. I offered to help them sew their pictures into ornaments, and Aila was interested, but the boys were not. Sewing with a young child takes a bit more focus, so as my attentions turned more toward her, the boys drifted away, sitting together on the couch to watch Tom and Jerry.
I wonder sometimes, with "flops" such as this, Did I break the activity up into small enough tasks? Did I provide enough examples (several pictures in two different books plus a cute bear face I had designed and sewed myself ahead of time)? Did I provide opportunity for engagement on many levels, using several senses?
But really, I think it comes down to this: this is an absolutely free learning environment with interested adults and plenty of materials available. The boys wanted to make felt pictures and then watch a favorite cartoon. Their cousin wanted to sew a felt ornament. Everybody got something out of this. That's enough. In fact, it's more than enough, it's pretty darn good.
Later, at the park, I picked up a few more things that might work as crafting supplies. Maybe we'll try making other ornaments or wreaths, something that uses a glue gun. (He loves the glue gun.) And maybe we'll just mess around with the materials and see what happens with no end product in mind. Or maybe I'll make my own thing and they can make their own things and we can sit around together creating and call it crafts. When Woody saw me taking this picture, he put the acorn caps on each of his fingers and made them all Army generals. They fought each other, each one wanting to be in charge, until one by one they lost their hats and went back to just being fingers. Heck, maybe even the glue gun is superfluous. Maybe the acorn caps and a laughing mama are enough.