If your child has to get his or her hands into everything; if everything she or he makes is layered and collaged and stacked up with one line, shape, pattern on top of another; if you child has always noticed and talked about the way clothing, blankets, stuffed animals feel to the touch — your child might count texture among his or her Sensory Alphabet strengths. These creative thinking tools are great fits for the texture kid.
We believe in working from children’s strengths and providing toys, tools and supplies that are open-ended, can be used in creative work and play, and that can help your child make a leap from “I can’t..” to “I can!” Here are a few ideas to light up your holiday — and a future birthday — with imagination with creative thinking gifts. These gifts will honor your child’s imagination and make the holiday season more meaningful and more personal.
Pack a shoebox (ready to decorate!) with stickers, doilies, yarn, fuzzy pipe cleaners, glue, double stick tape, and appropriate-for-age scissors. A stack of 5” by 5” cut to size cardboards (you can recycle these from cartons or food packaging) makes it fun to make texture collage cards that can be combined and arranged and rearranged like a big texture quilt.
STUFFED CRITTER, CREATURE OR DOLL
Translate your child’s drawing into a stuffed doll or animal. And of course, your texture kid gets to help! You can use a photo and projector to enlarge a sketch, or just eyeball it. Collage the pieces using a fusible web, layer on a thin batting or piece of polyester felt, stitch around the shapes to keep them sturdy, then cut a plain fabric backing. For examples, check out this blog post from 22words and this flickr link. If you wish, you can even commission an artist to make the doll or critter for you. (See this link for info.)
For a detailed how-to, see this blogger’s instructions and great photos (this is one of hers).
A fun way to originate designs for stuffed creatures is to make collaborative drawings as a family. Each person starts with a shape, then passes his or her paper along to the next person for an addition. Continue until you’ve added all the arms, legs, eyes and noses possible.
Alternatively, use a custom fabric print-on-demand company such as Spoonflower or Fabric on Demand to print fabric in your child’s patterns, or even use a photo of one of his or her collages as the source material. The internet web interface for these companies makes it easy — you can even make wall paper and custom wrapping paper at Spoonflower.
Some kids will love the mathematical precision that comes from mastering weaving — start with a simple “potholder” loom and move on to a more complicated table top loom. You probably know if your texture kid is one whose mind works with texture AND line in such a manner! There are lots of home-grown loom-free weaving activities to try too. For some good looms for kids (and other educational fiber toys) check out Harrisville and School Product Yarns.
Some texture lovers are also great at categories and sorting. A dozen clear plastic shoe boxes or other containers can be a great gift, especially if some of them are packed with textures such as scrap fabrics, yarns, beads and glitter glue. Include permanent markers or paint markers and label stickers for your texture kid to use to decorate the stash boxes.
If you have the outdoor space, and the weather that makes it possible, consider ordering a few yards of sand for giant sandpile fun. Alternatively, consider giving your texture kid a block of “real” terracotta potters clay. Even if you don’t plan to fire the results, a block of clay with a few texture tools can provide hours of hands-on invention.
Here’s a link to one site for clay tools, good for both pottery clay or play dough.
Put your Texture Lover’s dramatic sense to work with a costume trunk filled with recycled garments, thrift store finds and a few select specialty items such as a feather boa, a costume shop wig or a hat with lots of silk flowers. A theatrical supply house such as Lynchs will give you lots of options.