I know... that perfectionist in you takes over. You see your child surrounded by craft supplies or have an art project to do and you just want to grab the crayons and scissors out of her hand. He's not cutting on the lines; she's not coloring in the lines. His giraffe looks more like a string bean.
Giraffe? Yes. In my preschool storytime for 4 year olds today, after reading a story called Giraffes Can't Dance, we were making giraffes that had pipe cleaner legs... able to dance! As the year has gone on, I've purposefully pre-made less and less of the craft for each of the age groups ahead of time. And today, I gave each child a piece of orange craft foam, showed them my sample, then told them they had to draw and cut out their own giraffes. And then I made one stipulation: no mom/dad/grandparent help. I've recognized over the year how adults just want to rush to do the work for their kids, whether it's instinct or perfectionism, or a child who says "I can't do it!". Not all parents do this, but a majority do. I know, occassionally kids need help with a craft, but in many cases, if you take a step back, encourage them, and show them how to move on from any mistakes (Thank You, God for erasers!), they'll get there. It may not be pretty. It probably won't be. But it'll be theirs. It'll spark their imagination. Trust me.
So in honor of using your imagination and encouraging your child to as well, some great picture books that celebrate and spark creativity, for your preschooler and yourself:
Crockett Johnson: The classic Harold and the Purple Crayon and its sequels, about Harold's adventures, created with only his imagination and a purple crayon.
Antoinette Portis: Not a Box, about a bunny who tells you why you're not just looking at a box, and the follow-up, Not a Stick, in which a pig tells you why he's not looking at a stick.
Peter Reynolds: The Dot, in which a child learns that just by making a dot in different ways he can be creative, and Ish, about a child who learns that drawing an object "ish-ly" is okay.
Maurice Sendak: Another classic, Where the Wild Things Are... Max puts on a wolf suit and finds the wild things. Imagination and dreaming at its wildest.