Inside: Learn the purpose behind Charlotte Mason handicrafts. Stop making useless paper crafts and start teaching your children useful skills that will benefit them in life! Plus a complete list of handicraft ideas you can download.
The Charlotte Mason method appeals to me, but this whole handicrafts thing has me uneasy. When I heard about using Charlotte Mason handicrafts, the first thing that came to mind was scouring the internet for hours looking for ideas, searching all over the house for art supplies, and finding glitter in every orifice of my child’s body for days. Not my idea of fun!
Do you despise the thought of crafts too? Are there really moms out who get a kick out of them? I am not one of them.
As I dug deeper and kept an open mind about this whole concept, I realized these crafts were slightly different than glitter and glue. And seriously, how could this many families rave about them? It couldn’t be all that bad.
Why do Handicrafts
Even though I discovered these weren’t your normal artsy craftsy projects, I still wasn’t sure why they were necessary. We had gotten by quite fine without doing them every week.
Skills with a Purpose
How many paper crafts have you tossed in the trash over the years? Maybe you have some in a pile on a table or shelf collecting dust because you don’t have a use for them?
In Charlotte’s time, handicrafts developed a skill which would benefit the child into adulthood. Perhaps it would help to earn an income or feed and take care of the family. Today, we could add what we call “life skills” to this list.
In other words, handicrafts are meant to be useful and serve a purpose. Not something to toss aside or collect dust.
Handicrafts are meant to be useful and serve a purpose. Not something to toss aside or collect dust.
It Brings Joy
If you teach yourself a skill or complete a project by yourself, there is a sense of accomplishment and pride you get. It brings you joy. Have you struggled learning how to knit, sew, or tackle a new technique in the kitchen? Doesn’t it feel great once you master it? Kids are no different. What a self-esteem builder!
Handicrafts can make great gifts. When love and time are spent creating a gift, you are passing along this joy to others as well. Your child learns to create something beautiful someone will cherish for years to come.
Another purpose Charlotte had for learning these handicrafts was serving others. This is even more important in the 21st century. We live in a self-centered world that often doesn’t care about others. Most kids have their heads down staring at a device and have no desire to think about someone else’s needs. Charlotte Mason handicrafts are a perfect way to change this.
Your children can help others with the skill or craft they have learned. If an elderly neighbor needs her lawn mowed, your son can do it. When a family in church has a new baby, your daughter can crochet a blanket. If you get a flat tire alongside the road, your teen can change it. Learning ways to be useful is such a blessing to others and gives your child a feeling of being needed.
What Am I Good At?
God designs each of us with a purpose. We weren’t meant to be good at everything. As your child learns different handicrafts and life skills, he uncovers the talents God gave him. Learning his strengths and weaknesses helps pinpoint areas that could lead to a potential profession.
How to Do Charlotte Mason Handicrafts
4 Things to Keep in MInd
When teaching Charlotte Mason Handicrafts, there are four things to keep in mind. This is how Charlotte explained it:
“The points to be born in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in the making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not be allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.” (Home Education, Vol. 1, p. 315)
- Handicrafts are to be useful and teach the child a skill.
- Children should be taught slowly and carefully. Moving too quickly can make the child frustrated and want to give up easily. The goal is to enjoy the process.
- Sloppy work should not be accepted. Encourage your child to do his best work.
- Make sure the handicraft is appropriate for your child’s age and skill level.
How Often to Do Charlotte Mason Handicrafts
Charlotte had her students doing handicrafts five days a week, for twenty minutes per lessons. She felt they were so important it should become part of the daily routine. In fact, the whole Charlotte Mason schedule was set up for school to be completed by lunchtime so the afternoons were free to pursue these handicrafts and interests.
Handicraft Ideas and Life Skills
I have put together a large list of ideas you can use and divided them into four categories to help choose from different areas you may want to work on.
- Building projects
- Cake decorating
- Carving- cork, soap, wood
- Clay sculpturing
- Drawing- chalk, charcoal, pastels, pencil
- Flower arranging
- Flower crafts
- Home decorating
- Iron sculpturing
- Japanese curtains
- Jewelry making
- Leather tooling
- Loom weaving
- Origami/ Paper Folding
- Painting- finger painting, oil, watercolor
- Pencil sketching
- Picture framing
- Rubber stamping
- Scroll sawing
- Smyrna rugs
- Soap making
- Spinning fibers
- Weaving- baskets, blankets, placemats, potholders, rugs
- Cleaning- mirrors, showers, sinks, and toilets
- Clearing the table
- Drying- clothes, dishes
- Emptying trash
- Folding- clothes, sheets, towels
- Setting the table
- Sweeping the floor
- Washing- car, clothes, dishes, windows
- Brushing teeth
- Car maintenance
- Changing a lightbulb
- Combing hair
- Cooking/food preparation
- CPR/First Aid
- Driving a car
- Electrical wiring
- Feeding pets
- Gardening- flower and vegetable
- Menu planning
- Mowing the lawn
- Organizing areas of the house
- Painting walls
- Personal finances/Budgeting
- Raking leaves
- Starting a fire
- Working basic tools- drill, hammer, screwdriver, etc.
- Computer skills
- Word processing
To get this list in a pdf format so you can look for ideas to teach your child, just fill out the form below. I have put everything onto one sheet to print out and keep handy.
Here’s a video with examples of some simple handicrafts.
I really enjoy teaching my girls handicrafts. I sometimes learn right along with them.
When my son was younger, he tried wood carving and wood burning. He also learned to change the oil in a car, mow the lawn, do his own laundry, and run the sweeper in the house.
Handicrafts have been way more fun than your everyday paper crafts. We watch tutorials on YouTube and after gathering a few items; we are ready to learn. It doesn’t require me searching all over the web looking for ideas each week or buying new materials all the time.
We choose one handicraft and then focus on that for at least a month giving them time to learn and practice it. (Charlotte probably would have done it for 12 weeks.) At the end of that time, if they are still interested, we can keep going. If not, we choose something else and move on.
If you find your children really dislike what they are learning before a month is up, it’s fine to let it go if you feel they have really given it a shot and it’s not their thing. Finding what interests them and what they are good at is one purpose of activities.
After studying Charlotte Mason handicrafts, I realize they are so much more than paper crafts with glitter and glue. They are an opportunity to equip my children with useful skills needed later in life. It’s also a chance to bless others with their talents and time by creating beautiful gifts that are both useful and meaningful.
I can’t think of a better way to take the focus off themselves and instead onto others while learning something that will benefit them. And best of all, you won’t have to dig glitter out of scary places on your child’s body for days to come.