November 22, 2004

Teach Kids an Artistic Way to Say Thank You

Filed under: Art and About Kids — admin @ 2:07 pm

Three years ago when I started doing Art and About, I wrote a column about making my own thank-you notes. I described how I folded blank pieces of cardstock and used leftover crafting materials to put my unique stamp on each individual thank-you card I wrote. That column remains one of the most commented on pieces I have written, so like any successful form of entertainment, I am writing a sequel. And I believe this is better than the original.

Sometime after my son turned one, I started having his design his own thank-you cards. When he was really little, we did hand and footprints because we found his public couldn’t get enough of those, and since a toddler’s prints are ever growing and changing, it became a nice marker in time for people. As he became adept at working with paints, he would do finger-painted cards, and eventually graduated to using a paintbrush. After passing his second birthday, he decided mixed media represented his artistic voice, and he would create thank-you cards combining paint, crayon, colored pen, oil pastels, and anything else that made a mark on the page. As he learned to use scissors, we got him a set of fancy crafting shears with which he could cut fringes or shapes that rarely fit into a standard stationery envelope, but we sent them nonetheless.

As we approach his fourth birthday later this month, my son has gone full circle back to paints, but now he strives to create representational art. After his third birthday, we switched from having me write the notes to requiring that he dictate his own thank-you message, so now the inside of the card is as special as the outside.

I started my daughter out on the painted thank-you cards when she was eight-months-old, last December. She refused to hold still long enough for a hand or footprint, and latched right on to doing brushwork. As this past year has progressed, she has focused all her attentions on crayons. She has the lightest touch and creates feathery designs with delicate strokes.

This December, my kids are developing their own line of stationery. Using heavily diluted watercolor, my son created rainbow swirls of artistry in colors light enough that the words of the penned notes can be read. My daughter did Crayola abstracts with her signature ginger touch. With the help of Allegro Copy and Print in Lafayette, we are having their names printed on each sheet, like big-person stationery, so they will be all set to write thank-you notes come December 26.

All of this is great, but two of my son’s preschool classmates have created the ultimate thank-you cards, and it is their idea that I really want to share. These sisters illustrated a bunch of thank-you cards and gave them, beautifully wrapped, as a gift to their teacher for her birthday. AND THEN, the teacher used the thank-you cards to write thank-you notes to everyone for the gifts she had received. It’s brilliant!

To me, this idea is the ultimate in the gift that keeps on giving. I see at least three values at work here. The child is immersed in the concept of saying thank-you by creating one-of-a-kind thank-you notes. The child, as the artist, is given an opportunity to creatively express herself. And the child is giving of herself while getting directly involved in the gift-giving process rather than her parent just going out and buying something.

I can’t think of a better way to get our kids profoundly in touch with the true spirit of holiday gift-giving than to do a project like this with them for anyone with whom they exchange gifts. I suspect both giver and receiver will be filled with the joys of the season.

1 Comment »

  1. 1enjoyable…

    Trackback by 3astonish — January 12, 2022 @ 10:49 pm

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