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Two preteens make a craft mistake as they paint their hands.
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Avoid These 8 Craft Mistakes With Kids (And Nix These 4 Craft No-Nos)

Use these new alternatives to avoid common craft mistakes and pitfalls that can be impractical, overly messy, or downright unsafe for your kids.

There are only a few short minutes left before class is over. Billy, in a whirlwind of activity, just sent the glitter jar dancing through the air to create a glittery snowfall throughout your room. Megan is in tears because she spilled paint on her brand new dress. And Taisha struggles to cut her paper with too-sharp scissors.

This scene would be enough to challenge even the most gifted art teacher—much less the engineer you recruited to teach first-graders. How can you give your novice—and experienced—teachers the best resources to make their craft time a success?

Avoid These Craft Mistakes With Kids

As always, the most important factor to remember is safety first! We all know some of the basic craft guidelines, such as no chain saws or super glue. But where do you go from there?


Children’s Ministry Magazine dug up the very best craft innovations to get you on your way. Keep reading to discover the newest craft alternatives to common craft mistakes.

Craft Mistake: Hot Glue Gun

Nothing works quite like a hot glue gun for instant bonding. A hot glue gun, though, reaches a temperature of 380 degrees, which can be dangerous and cause painful burns. Even a low-temp gun reaches a temperature of 230 degrees. For your safest choice, hot-glue crafts before children come to class, or choose a special nontoxic craft glue.

Recommended Resource

Use a craft glue such as Aleene’s Tacky Glue. This extra-thick and extra-tacky glue is good for use on paper, fabric, wood, metal, glass, ceramics, and most plastics. It’s nontoxic and dries clear.

Craft Mistake: Glue Goo

Preschoolers love to glue, but their glue projects can get very messy. Young children often have difficulty controlling the amount of glue dispensed from a bottle, so use a thicker glue or glue gel. Pour a half-dollar-sized amount on a plastic lid, and give children cotton swabs to dip into the glue and then apply to their projects. This method significantly cuts down on glue-overload and mess.

Recommended Resource

Elmer’s Galactic Glue is a washable, no-run gel that’s safe and nontoxic. It dries clear with an iridescent glitter.

Craft Mistake: Felt

Felt can be difficult for children to work with. It’s impossible to cut with safety scissors, and it’s difficult to glue because it won’t stick well to surfaces.

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Craft foam is a wonderful substitute for felt. It’s easier to work with because the foam doesn’t absorb glue like felt does, and kids can cut it and draw on it. Wonder Foam comes in a package of 10 assorted colors in 12×18-inch sheets.

Craft Mistake: Glitter

Kids love glitter, but most teachers don’t. For a glitter substitute, there’s an entire line of glitter glues on the market today that are fun for kids and easy for adults to clean up.

Recommended Resource

“Kids Activity” Glitter Glue by Plaid comes in a variety of glitter colors and dries clear to leave only the glitter.

Craft Mistake: Wasted Food

Food has been used in craft projects since we were little tykes. Remember macaroni necklaces? Today, however, unless you’re making an edible project, avoid using food in craft projects. You’ll show children that it’s important to be good stewards of all God’s resources.

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For textural projects use sand, crumbled acorns, or crushed pebbles instead of wasting foods such as oatmeal, cereal, or rice. Crushed, colored pebbles come in a variety of colors and sizes.

Craft Mistake: Plaster Projects

Plaster projects can be fun, but they pose definite challenges because they take too long to dry.

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Faster Plaster tub by Plaid breaks the mold of traditional plaster casting. Mix the plaster powder with water, and it transforms into a smooth, chip-resistant plaster mold. Sculptures can be microwaved on the spot or air-dried for 24 to 36 hours at room temperature.

Craft Mistake: Paint

Children love to paint, but paint isn’t the best accessory for kids’ church clothes. In addition, paint brushes must be cleaned immediately after use, and pictures need to dry before children can take them home.

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For a fun alternative, use watercolor pencils. Have children color pictures with the pencils on watercolor paper. Then wash over the drawings with a damp brush to create a watercolor effect. The Crayola Watercolor Pencil Set includes 12 pre-sharpened pencils.

Craft Mistake: Sharp Tools

Cutting is a vital part of most craft projects, but stay away from projects that require the use of sharp tools such as knives, pointed scissors, and X-Acto knives.

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Provo Craft Paper Shapers scissors are a fun alternative to regular blunt scissors. These scissors cut paper into varied edges, including pinking, scallop, and wave.

Nix These No-Nos

Spray Paint

Spray painting is fast and easy, but fumes can be hazardous. Don’t use aerosol spray paint in your room or around children. Instead, put slightly diluted washable tempera paint in spray pump bottles for kids to use. This way kids can create a spray-painted effect on their artwork without the fumes.

Paper Cutting

Cut-paper projects is a good way for kids to develop fine motor skills, but they can be time-consuming. Some children will labor over the cutting process and leave little time to complete the project.

Instead, have children create torn-paper collages and projects. Have children slowly tear the paper in small sections at a time to give them greater control over the paper. This creates a nice decorative edge.

Time-to-Dry Projects

Children love to take art projects home immediately and don’t want to wait for their papers to dry. Plan your craft project so that any gluing is done at the beginning of class. That way the projects will have time to dry so kids aren’t taking home “wet” papers.

As an alternative for projects that don’t require a heavy adhesive, use double-stick tape. This is quick and easy, and it doesn’t require drying time. For preschoolers who may not be adept at using the tape dispenser, tear off tape pieces ahead of time and attach them to the edge of a counter.

Bathroom Germs

Paper tubes are great for collages and sculptures, but toilet paper rolls may collect germs that are passed on to kids.

Instead, use paper towel tubes and sections of giftwrap cut to size. Or roll construction paper, poster board, or thin cardboard into tubes and tape shut.

For Younger Kids

Two- and 3-year-olds can learn to cut with one-on-one assistance, and older preschoolers can use safety scissors with blunt edges. Make sure an adult is supervising three to four children at a time while they’re cutting. It only takes seconds for children to snip off their neighbors’ hair—or their own.

Recommended Resource

Hands-On Training Scissors can help younger preschoolers learn how to cut. The double-looped handle allows a teacher and child to simultaneously cut, so the child feels the muscular rhythm of cutting.

Laurie Copley is a free-lance writer and former art teacher living in Summerville, South Carolina.

Looking for craft ideas? Check out these posts!


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