When school's out and the kids are looking to you for entertainment, turn to summer craft projects to keep them engaged. You can reduce a lot of the typical boredom and kids' antsy behavior with a variety of craft ideas.
Most young children really enjoy finger painting. Use the following recipe to whip up a homemade batch of non-toxic finger paints, give your kids some paper, and let them use their imaginations to create some summertime masterpieces.
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 packets of powdered drink mix (like Kool-Aid) in whichever color you choose
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 3 cups boiling water
- Mix together the drink mix, flour, and salt in a large bowl.
- Stir in the oil.
- Mix in the boiling water carefully and allow it to cool.
- Store your paints in air-tight containers.
Beach in a Bottle
Kids can create these keepsake bottles to remind them of a happy time spent at the ocean or lake. You can find items like seashells, dried starfish, and sand in your local craft store, or collect them at the beach while you're on vacation.
- An assortment of shells, sand dollars, stones and other small items you'd see at the beach
- Glass jar or clear plastic bottle with lid and an opening large enough for the shells
- Place sand in the bottom of the container. Use just enough to cover the bottom, but not fill the bottle more than halfway.
- Drop beach-related items randomly into the bottle. Besides shells, items like mini flip-flops and doll-sized sunglasses can add some variety and color.
- Put the lid on the container, and it's finished.
Light Up the Night Luminaries
Luminaries are a cool addition to the backyard for those nights when you grill and eat outside. Younger kids can make theirs out of paper bags. With adult supervision, older kids can create their luminaries from clean, label-free recycled cans.
The supplies you need from this list will vary depending on whether you use bags or cans.
- Tea lights
- Glass votive candle holders
- Lunch size bags or recycled cans
- Scissors (If using bags)
- Hammer and nail (If using cans)
Instructions for Bags
- Draw a simple design in the middle of the bag and cut it out on the front and the back of the bag.
- Fill the bag with about two inches of sand and place an unlit candle inside a glass votive, and set it inside the center of the bag.
- Put it in a safe place before lighting the candle. For safety purposes, use a butane candle lighter or opt for a battery-powered candle.
Instructions for Aluminum Cans
- Wash the cans well and draw a dotted outline of your design on them with a permanent ink pen.
- The design should take up at least the middle third of the can, and it should be repeated on at least two "sides" of the can.
- Fill the can with water, and put it in the freezer for 24 hours or until frozen solid. The ice allows the nail to actually pierce the can when hammered instead of just bending it.
- Take the can out of the freezer, and use the hammer and nail to poke holes in the can following your dots.
- Turn the can upside down outside or in the sink, and let the ice melt and drain.
- Fill the can with a few inches of sand, and place a votive with an unlit candle in the center.
- Place the luminary in a safe location and have an adult light it.
After a long day of playing outside, kids really need a bath. Making their own soap critters will help you get them into the bath tub that much easier.
- 3 cups of soap flakes or grated Ivory soap
- 1 1/4 cups water
- Food coloring, optional
- Vegetable oil to put on your hands
- Work the water and food coloring into the soap.
- Mix until you have the consistency of Play-Doh.
- Put a drop or two of vegetable oil on your hands to help you as you shape the soap into your favorite animal shapes
- Allow the soap critters to sit overnight before using.
To add details like eyes and noses, reserve a bit of the white soap before adding coloring, or mix up a small batch of a contrasting color. Then add these features after the main animal shape has been formed.
Here's a fun way to make use of the shells children collect at the beach, but you can also buy shells at your local craft supply store. This craft can keep kids busy on and off all summer as they create different creatures to add to their collections.
- An assortment of shells in different shapes and sizes
- Craft glue or hot glue gun used with adult supervision
- Googley eyes
- Pipe cleaners
- Use single shells, or glue two or three together to form basic animal or creature shapes.
- Glue eyes wherever desired, to create a face.
- Cut pipe cleaner into one-inch lengths, and glue it on to the creature to create arms and legs.
You can also use markers and paints to add detail, or incorporate other "found" items such as twigs and small stones to create accessories and accents.
Personalized Swim Towels
Why spend money on expensive beach towels? Buy bargain towels, and let the kids decorate their own. This is also a great craft to do out on the lawn on a sunny day. The paint will dry quicker, and you won't have to worry about paint accidents in the house.
- Inexpensive, large bath towels
- Assorted fabric paints
- Paint brushes (Optional, but useful if you want to brush in the paint)
- Have the kids practice their designs using crayons on paper before they begin painting.
- Working from the top edge down, begin painting on the designs. Don't forget to have children add their names to their towels.
- When the designs are finished, you can let the towels dry on the ground outside, or carefully transfer them to a clothesline. Just make sure the towels won't touch each other if it's breezy.
Flip Flop Fashions
Let young girls, tweens and teens decorate inexpensive pairs of craft store flip flops they can wear all summer long. You can even give them a pair to decorate for you!
- A pair of flip flops with flat thong straps
- Decorations such as silk flowers, beads, buttons, etc.
- Hot glue gun, used with adult supervision
- Decide how the decorations will be arranged on the thong straps
- Carefully glue each item to the straps
- Allow the glue to dry completely, and the flip flops are ready to wear
As an alternative idea, kids could decorate their flip flops by adding designs using permanent markers or acrylic paints.
Create Summer Memories
Kids often look back on their childhoods and remember experiences more than things. By providing them with several crafty choices and joining in the fun, you can help make the season enjoyable for the entire family.