Arts & crafts are known to inspire both wild imaginations as well as wild messes. However, as your child gets elbow-deep in a mess of glue, cotton balls, finger paint, googly eyes, and construction paper cut outs, they are also learning and developing in essential ways! Learn about how creative play helps your child develop in this 3-part series on the benefits of arts & crafts.

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on the benefits of arts & crafts.

First, let’s talk about the physical benefits:

You may often hear about how arts & crafts enhance fine motor skill development. Motor skills, or skills involving movement, are broken down into gross motor skills – skills that refer to the large muscles used to run or swim – and fine motor skills – skills that refer to the small muscles used to button a button or grasp a small object. By doing arts and crafts – holding a marker, coloring within the lines, or learning to use scissors – kids practice and improve their fine motor skills.

Some crafts involve play which enables sensory development, the development of your child’s senses, including their sense of touch, also referred to as their tactile sense. As children grow and develop, they use and play with these senses to understand and explore the world around them. This is why infants put everything in their mouths, toddlers make funny noises with their mouth, and 5-year-olds spins in circles until they fall down. Crafts like making slime or moon sand allow your child to develop their sense of touch, and improve their tactile skills.

Finally, arts and crafts help develop coordination skills such as hand-eye coordination and left-right coordination. Engaging in arts & crafts helps develop hand-eye coordination (the ability of the eyes to guide the hands in movements), and left-right coordination (the ability to use both hands at the same time). Activities in crafts such as cutting, gluing, tracing, or coloring involve your child using both types of coordination. The development of coordination is important for skills throughout life such as getting dressed, tying shoes, handwriting, and playing sports.

So, pop on the plastic table cover, crack open the crayon box, try to relax about the ensuing mess, and have fun with your child! Check out the WIND Study’s seasonal newsletter to learn about fun craft ideas to try this summer!