When they were little I ran a messy-play group with my mum for a number of years, so they really started getting involved with arts and crafts at a young age. I'm really pleased though that their love of being creative has continued even as they have got older (my Superhero will be 11 in February - eek).
The benefits of encouraging pre-school children to be involved in messy-play are well known I think, but I'm not sure older children continue to be encouraged in the some way, the focus moving to more academic subjects.
Obviously encouraging your kids to get involved in craft projects helps build creativity and imagination and gives them experience of thinking 'out-side the box'. Painting, cutting, drawing, sewing and so on, all help with muscle development and dexterity, which in turn aids handwriting skills.
Arts and crafts also helps to build confidence. How many of us crafters have embarked upon a project only to discover that it wasn't really what we saw in our minds eye? So, back to the drawing board we go and perhaps, on occasion, the whole idea is scraped altogether. We learn though that it's not the end of the world - sometime stuff turns out as you expected and sometimes it doesn't - but thats ok.
So when we all needed a bit of quiet time on Saturday afternoon, after a morning of football matches and dance-show rehearsals, I was more than happy when the kids got the hama beads out rather than putting the tele on or playing on the computer.
And this is what they came up with:
Superhero made the Christmas Pudding:
and Princess made the Tree:
What do you think?