3 Ways Children Can Explore Careers Through Arts & Crafts


Absolutely one of my favorite memories as a kid was making paper mache pots with my mom. We’d make household items and so much more for just a few dollars. I learned about finances, and my creativity allowed me to create just about anything. It was really the beginnings of an entrepreneurial mindset.

If I could create a pot for two dollars that looked expensive, I figured I could do just about anything. Your wishlist can be filled with items that can help your child develop confidence and an openness to what is possible for them as adults in the workforce. Wish for these items individually or as a grouping called art for exploring careers.

Here are a few toys to wish for or buy that we love:


1. Paper Mache Kits


My mom and I made paper mache clay by mixing flour and water and shredding newspapers. Then we’d use balloons and cardboard to create structures. I even recalled my paper mache skills in high school to add eye lids to a round painting I made of the moon winking.

Now, there are a million paper mache kits available online with everything from special flour for clay mixes that dry quickly to kits for making decorative bowls and whole streets of houses. Expect to pay $15 or higher per kit.

Look at all of these kits as a starting point for your child’s imagination. Ask them to do paper mache creations of the career they’d choose as a grown up. It doesn’t have to be exact. A future veterinarian could create an animal of their choice. Aa doctor could create a paper mache stethoscope. With structured kits, give them the freedom to decorate with paint or markers in whatever way they see fit.

Look online for articles with full detailed instructions for projects. Here is an affordable beginners guide for the paperback on Amazon.


2. Painting Kits



When it comes to giving kids ultimate power to express themselves, nothing beats simple art and paint sets. Depending on the age of your child and how advanced they are, you can purchase anything from finger painting kits to complex art sets. For a really fun gift to wish for if your child dreams of an art career or just one that incorporates art skills, we like the MOMA arts and crafts library kit. It includes everything from paints to needle and thread for around $40. It’s a great gift to wish for and it’s really cool that it’s from the Museum of Modern Art’s gift shop.

Note: Don’t pick toys art toys that over structure every detail. “I would avoid coloring books and coloring by numbers,” says Ashley Dietz, Brooklyn-based kindergarten teacher. “Even though they are fun for kids, they limit the child’s creative freedom.”


3. Crafting Kits



When purchasing a craft kit with the intent for career exploration, make sure there are at least different options for decorating. You can find everything from jewelry kits to building houses or making sun catchers. I got a bunch of these kits as in person toys for when gifting 529 plan money. You can easily pay $5 or less for these kits at Michaels before Christmas and $2 after.

As a side note, kits for making necklaces and jewelry also teach the beginnings of engineering and science. The reason is kids are essentially building jewelry with beads, hooks, and other decorative pieces to create a complete work. It’s basically Legos for the fashion set. You can find a full jewelry kit for around $20 like this from Target.


5 Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t pick art toys that don’t give kids freedom to pick their own colors or draw on their own.
  • Get a few inexpensive art kits for when you’re giving 529 pan savings to children. Then, you’re giving a toy that empowers their imagination while helping them save for college.
  • Paper mache is an incredible option for kids to use their imagination to create just about anything. Building a street of homes is a fabulous entry point for career-related role play.
  • Basic painting kids let kids imagination run wild.
  • Jewelry kits double as science / engineering toys because of the building factor.
Contribute by Reyna Gobel. Reyna is a travel and personal finance journalist, television consultant and producer. Her work has appeared in Money Magazine, Reuters, Hemispheres, American Way, Southwest Spirit, and US News and World Report.