Crafting helps children develop fine motor skills, practice critical thinking and build confidence. This summer, take advantage of your kids’ time out of school to let them experiment with new crafting skills. The end result of their endeavors doesn’t matter nearly as much as the journey.
While all of these crafts should be supervised, they’re also opportunities to let your child take the lead. Each project teaches following directions, learning coordination and exercising imagination. Here are seven crafts that will bring hours of fun and lots of constructive learning to your family.
1. Make Play-Dough
Play-dough can entertain kids for hours. However, you can also guide your child in making the dough before they start playing with it. Some parents use a stove-top method where they combine cornstarch, baking soda, water and food coloring. You stir this mixture over medium heat until it beings to look dry. This would be a great learning experience for older kids.
For younger children, you can consider following the two-ingredient, no-cook recipe. Simply combine a hair conditioner of your choice with corn starch for a soft, pliable dough that smells delicious. Show your child how to help you with the creative process and then sit back and watch them have hours of fun.
2. Build With Craft Sticks
You can also help your child practice building with craft sticks. Using glue, help them construct a miniature house, log-cabin style. You can leave the roof separate so that your kids can lift it and fill the inside of the home with paper and clay furniture.
For a less complicated craft, show your kids how to make craft stick people using markers, construction paper and tape. You can also make boats, superheroes, mermaids – the list goes on. Let your kids go wherever their creativity takes them. You’ll be amazed at what they come up with on their own!
3. Bake Cake-Pops
Although not technically a craft, baking teaches your kids how to thoughtfully create a project from start to finish. You can use simple baking projects to teach them how to mix, heat the oven, measure ingredients, read recipes and tidy up afterward.
Cake pops are especially fun to make because you get to crumble cake, roll the pops between your hands, then dip and decorate them with icing. Because this project will take a while to complete, your kids will also learn to practice patience. This is a good opportunity to show them how much work goes into daily tasks they take for granted.
4. Sculpt With Clay
Creating with clay is another great crafting project for imaginative kids. Choose a variety of colors and show your kids how to build small animals and flowers out of the material. You can create designs out of your head or use silicone molds to develop more intricate shapes.
If your kids want to make permanent designs, you can bake their finished products. Another fun option is to use liquid polymer clay to create flat or molded designs. With this type of clay, children can trace designs and fill every part of a silicone mold perfectly. Liquid clay is also easy to clean up because it doesn’t leave any residue.
5. Design Paper Bag Puppets
Making puppets helps kids learn about faces. They get to decide on eye and hair color, add clothing and choose emotion with facial expressions. After their craft is finished, they can practice telling stories and imagining their puppet’s personalities.
Using paper bags to make puppets is simple and fun. All you need are markers, glue, construction paper, yarn and paper bags to get started. Optional materials include googly eyes, fabric scraps, tissue paper and faux flowers from a craft store. Show your kids the basics, then let them experiment and exercise their creativity with this project.
6. Decorate Tote Bags
This craft lets your kids add some flair to an item they use on a regular basis. You can find plain canvas tote bags at many craft stores, or consider running them up on the sewing machine so that your kids can practice a straight stitch too. Designs will show up on light-colored bags best.
To decorate their bags, your kids can use stamps and fabric paint. Many stores also sell fabric markers so that the project is less messy. Older children can embroider or add fabric patches for a personal twist. Kids can use their finished tote bags for music lessons, visiting the library, going to the park, or taking extra items to school.
7. Construct an Aquarium
If your child loves animals or miniatures, show them how to create a diorama inside a cereal box. An easy first project is to create a tiny aquarium, complete with paper rocks, seaweed and fish. You can make the fish look like they’re swimming by hanging them on string.
The creative possibilities for this project are endless. Materials can range from all-paper to a mix of paper, pipe cleaners, clay and even real rocks or sand for the seafloor. Dioramas are a wonderful way to start teaching your children about ecosystems and the complexities of animal habitats.
Learning in Motion
Although making crafts is a lot of fun, it’s also good for learning motor skills and developing self-confidence. Crafting can encourage out-of-the-box thinking, showing kids the benefits of taking creative risks in a controlled environment. Kids learn best when they’re excited, curious and creative.
Use these seven craft ideas to keep your child active and learning this summer. In addition to being simple, these projects are a great starting point for in-depth creativity. As kids work with these materials, they’ll find new ways to express their imaginations and create objects that bring them delight.