“The Handicrafts best fitted for children under nine seem to me to be chair-caning, carton-work, basket-work, Smyrna rugs, Japanese curtains, carving in cork, samplers on coarse canvas showing a variety of stitches, easy needlework, knitting (big needles and wool), etc. The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in 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.”
Charlotte Mason focused on teaching practical, useful skills for children. While many of the handicrafts done in her day are now obsolete, there are still many practical skills that can be learned, knitting, sewing, woodworking, etc. My boys have made wooden birdfeeders, built model ships, helped their dad build twin beds, etc.
Miss Mason also emphasized the importance of drawing. Children draw what they see in their nature notebooks and what they imagine or what they see in museums in their Book of Centuries. She did not believe in too much instruction but giving the children paints, telling them what colors they can make if they mix red and blue together and then letting them try it. She believed that children would learn to draw well by studying a flower (or other object in nature) and then doing their best to duplicate it.
My children naturally love to draw so I don’t usually have to “schedule” art time. They each have an art notebook as well as their nature notebook. I have some art DVDs and drawing books that they love to use and we have used Artistic Pursuits. There are even ipad apps for learning to draw, although I tend to agree with Miss Mason, the children learn to draw best when sketching what is right in front of them.
Simply Charlotte Mason has a great list of handicraft ideas here. My husband is typically the one involved with handicrafts- he and our boys have made beds, birdfeeders, a sandbox, doghouse, build model ships/submarines/airplanes, etc. I also love to pick up things when we travel to historic sites like basket weaving kits and candlemaking kits.
View my Homeschool Handicrafts Pinterest board for more ideas!