As an early years teacher and now mother of small children, it's fair to say I've done my fair share of crafting over the years. I love crafting; creating special little pieces to be treasured and played with for days to come. Around Christmas time as well as other special occasions like birthdays and Father's/Mother's Day, we enjoy creating themed pieces of work to give as gifts or decorative pieces for our home. However it is the 'free craft' projects that I've found to be the most engaging. I always have a fairly huge stash of craft items in the cupboard, organised into smaller clear plastic boxes for ease of use. I change things up all the time but the contents range from cotton balls, pom poms, paddle-pop sticks, wooden pegs, stickers, paper doilies, sequins, random bits of fabric etc etc. During free craft I'll just select a dozen or so of these resources along with paper, cardboard, pencils or crayons, scissors, and glue, and just watch the magic and imagination happen!
I will admit that it has taken me a little while to be okay with the mess that this sort of process inevitably creates, glitter in particular has become my nemesis. However I always try to tell the children, both my own and my students, that it is totally fine to make a bit of a mess during the creative process, as long as we all work together to clean it up afterwards. I am continually surprised at the results of this sort of creative play, where the only agenda is to use your imagination and have fun!