I always come back to the idea that teaching children to make things by hand isn't just to develop their fine-motor skills, in a world where pressing keys and pushing buttons is often the main training for little hands. Or to foster their creativity. Or to teach patience and an appreciation of slow-paced activities.
Yes, children learn these things while hand-crafting, but they also learn much more. Making things by hand also expands a child's sense of competence and limits: there's a power inherent in handmaking that can encourage anyone, children and adults alike, to transcend what they're comfortable doing and have a go at something new. The lesson of crafting shouldn't be, "I can't do that," but rather, "I can do anything, I just have to learn how." And what a good lesson for anybody to learn about themselves! (Of course, not all children are interested in pursuing crafting and handmaking as they grow up and go beyond the digging in sand and building tree houses phase - which is perfectly fine.)
I was noticing this again recently, when Rebecca fell in love with a stuffed fabric duck she'd seen in a cafe in town. For her, this duck was the mostest beautifulest thing ever! "The barista made it herself" Rebecca explained when she told me about this fantastic object. "And," she concluded, "I'm going to make one too!"
I'm not sure of what kind of duck-dealings went on at the cafe between Rebecca and the barista, but one day, when business was quiet at the bar, Rebecca brought her little sewing machine there, and collaborative duck-making began. A table became covered with fabrics and threads and such, a chair was moved by a side staircase and used as a sewing station, and the cutting and stitching started.
It's a slow project, done when the time allows, but the duck's body, beak and feet are already sewed. I've overheard discussions about eyes, bows and ribbons, and perhaps a little bell. Oh, anything is possible on the world of handmaking!