Here in the states, we have two national pastimes: baseball, and undermining the legitimacy of art. And we're all but obsessed with forcing both of them on our toddlers.
I've always been a life-long hater of Pinterest crafts, even before Pinterest was a thing, and specifically when I was being subjected to them as a child.
When I say "Pinterest Crafts", what I'm referring to are crafts in which teachers do a lot of identical cutting and assembling, and the children get the excitement of offering a couple of doodles, the freedom of gluing some googly eyes onto it, or, if they're lucky, a teacher will paint their hand with tempera and grip their wrist like it's supporting faberge egg, gently stamp it to a sheet of construction paper, and quickly remove all the paint, so as to not imply to this child that doing anything else with paint on your hand is anything less than a mortal sin.
In most early childhood classrooms here, we call that "art" and "free art" is a shelf with blank paper (if they're lucky), worksheets, and coloring pages, and maybe a pail of crayons. Markers, if the teacher really wants people to believe they're an effective disciplinarian.
But, the standards are wearing off. We can't keep making handprint turkeys every year, right? Which obviously means there's only one conclusion. And before anyone tries to suggest just having a diverse collection of art supplies sitting out for children to do with as they please, let me say: butt print pumpkins.
This tried to be a thing in a program I was working at in 2014, and thankfully it was shut down. The funny thing is that teacher who "tried to make butt pumpkins happen" was also the kind of teacher who would scold kids if they haphazardly and unknowingly slipped a hand down their own pants--the kind who would have a heart attack if a girl took her shirt off for water play. The kind who would dump the water table out between children out of fear of dysentery. Perhaps you can point out the hypocrisy.
Now, this is targeted more for infants. And yes, I do agree that getting a handprint or fingerprint or footprint is a wonderful and valued keepsake about these early years, and I do think that it's fun and lovely for teachers to give parents these gifts a few times throughout their time in the program. But for the sake of all that is holy, don't call it the children's "art" for the day (or the week) and don't start lathering children's butts with paint. It's gross, it's violating, and it's super time consuming.
Instead, whether you've got infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, assemble a sizeable collection of safe materials they can explore on their own. Art is about doing things that come from you, not the internet.
And if you really, really want to do a cute craft, call it a craft and make that a supplementary activity to the actual, free art you've got available to the children. And leave their damn butts out of it.
Our posts are created by several early childhood professionals. Most stories will include the author's name and a link to their "About Me" or the program they own or represent.