Mother of arts and crafts
May 9, 2010 10:32 PM   Subscribe

I need arts and crafts ideas to do at home with young children.

It seems I don't have a creative bone in my body. Could you please give me your ideas for fun things to do at home with my kids? I have 2 boys aged 5 and 3 (and a baby girl but she's just rolling over at this point). Thanks
posted by sammyabdu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
At five, I pretty much lived for coloring. That and cutting things out of construction paper and using glue sticks to put them together. It didn't need to get more complicated than that.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:24 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've stolen some cool preschool-type craft and educational ideas from Mama Smiles. Filth Wizardry has more complex projects for slightly older kids, with a cool DIY/science approach.
posted by stefanie at 11:50 PM on May 9, 2010

* Finger painting, or painting.
* Drawing a picture with a white candle (or just wax crayons), then painting over the wax with watery paint.
* Home-made playdough (google a recipe).
* Home-made oobleck (google).
* Drawing on pavement with chalk.
* Painting fences/walls/cement with water and watch it dry.
* Make an obstacle course out of household items (chairs, cushions, ladders, boxes).
* Making paper crowns and decorating them with bits of junk.
* Building robot costumes from boxes and aluminum foil.
* Boxes are great - make houses, cars. Try getting some at the local grocers.
* For younger ones if you don't want messy paint: put blobs of paint between two layers of clingfilm on a flat surface. They can push the paint around and make patterns with their fingers, but it's all under the plastic.
* Make those funky grass-growing heads - you need old pantihose stuffed with soil, with a layer of grass seeds on the top of the soil. Stick on some eyes and a nose to make a face, and put it on a windowsill and water regularly. I think you could use bean sprouts or similar too.
posted by tracicle at 11:55 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

I loved doing origami at the age of four. I'd had a love of Transformers before, but I found this to be much more interesting. It's a cheap craft, and was certainly very satisfying for me. I could make my own toys.
posted by jpcooper at 12:03 AM on May 10, 2010

Kids Craft Weekly is great for that age group. Lots of cool ideas organized by theme.
posted by slightlybewildered at 1:00 AM on May 10, 2010

If you can get your hands on a copy of Eleanor Vance's The Everything Book: A Treasury of Things to Make and Do (and if your library doesn't have it, there are a lot of inexpensive used copies available here), you will be set for a while. I had a copy of it when I was a child, and my little brother and I occupied ourselves for hours doing the crafts and activities in it. In fact I tracked down a copy of it a while ago to replace the one from my childhood, and I don't even have any kids. I just had such fond memories of it. The illustrations are lovely, too--they are by Trina Schart Hyman, one of my favourite children's book illustrators.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:30 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Save the cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels. Get an inbox/outbox file and make an arts and crafts corner with a low table and a storage crate. Save colorful junk mail, bits of packaging, paper only printed on one side, ripped out pages of magazines. Have a tool box that you only bring out upon request with scissors and glue to keep them from getting into trouble, but keep drawing implements in a pencil cup and scotch tape next to your junk paper area.

Take your cardboard tubes and teach them how to make people and things with them. A long tube with green leaves at the top is a tree. You can make up magic fruits, cut them out and glue them onto your tree. Teach them the seasons with removable leaves and flowers. The short tubes can get hair, eyes, clothes, whatever they come up with. If you cut slits in the bottom of the tube, bend the tabs out, and cut away the excess, you can give them feet. Help your boys use those bendy brads to attach arms and tools. A tube on its side can be a dog or a cat or a lion, the long ones dragons or trains or whatever else they come up with. To recolor a tube entirely, just roll paper around it. Show them how they can draw a design on the paper before they apply it to the tube. The older kid will certainly get more elaborate, but the younger will definitely come up with some crazy story ideas.

To minimize mess, give each kid a shoebox to keep their favorite creations in, and insist that all scraps must be recycled back into the junk paper files or tossed at the end of play time. For treats, there's pipe cleaners (instant lightning bolts, swords, tails, etc), googly eyes, stickers, scraps of fabric.
posted by Mizu at 1:39 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yuumii - created by some friends of mine - it's got all kinds of projects and adventures and stuff.

from the site:
Sign in & become a member, and then YuuMii will send you a weekly email letting you know all the details for the week. Links, images, instructions, and community support!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:29 AM on May 10, 2010

Response by poster: All fantastic suggestions in such little time. Thank you so much! Please keep them coming.
posted by sammyabdu at 2:38 AM on May 10, 2010

DLTK Kids has been a good source for craft ideas for the teachers I work with. They have a lot of printable crafts and coloring pages too. They're all arranged by theme (holiday, season, etc).
posted by christinetheslp at 4:27 AM on May 10, 2010

I like the projects at Family Fun. They're not usually things that I've seen a million times before & they're categorized pretty well by age/type.
posted by artifarce at 5:14 AM on May 10, 2010

Get an inbox/outbox file and make an arts and crafts corner

Do this. When my kids were that age, we got a cheap microwave cart with a drawer and some cabinets and filled it with art supplies. (No microwave on it; just used that type of cart). The kids knew where everything was, could reach everything, it was near the kitchen table where they were allowed to make a mess, and they knew how to put everything away.

For the projects, we liked it best when they could be active in some way. Make something they can throw (airplanes, helicopters, juggling balls, etc) or something that moves (pop-up story books, secret message birthday cards, erector sets) or something they can play with (people, buildings, cars, monsters, superhero masks to act out various scenarios).
posted by CathyG at 6:20 AM on May 10, 2010

Sculpey clay and make beads or tiny plates and cups, Michael's sells large vats of plastic beads and these are fun with pipe cleaners and/or string, giant rolls of paper and make murals or trace outlines of one another, I got my kids involved in digital photography pretty early, nature walks and glue the reults to picture frames, contruction paper collages, paper plate masks... Dang. I need coffee. I'll come back to this when I've had some rocket fuel.
posted by madred at 6:22 AM on May 10, 2010

One of the highlights of my childhood was when my parents bought a new fridge and gave me the box to play in. You could probably go to a furniture or appliances store and get a giant box for your kid(s).

Then, they can and will spend hours and hours decorating it - drawing on and/or painting the outside, and playing it in. Mine was a house, a spaceship, a fort - I remember playing in it for days, maybe weeks (it felt like weeks) before my parents got rid of it. I think the 5 year old is probably the perfect age for this.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:47 AM on May 10, 2010

Best answer: I am a mom and a children's librarian and I live and die by the Crafty Crow.
posted by Biblio at 7:07 AM on May 10, 2010

When my sister and I were little my mom gave us a lot of crafts to do using empty containers. Egg carton cut up became caterpillars. Foam trays, some yarn and a dull needle gave us something to "sew" on. My mom made us play-doh (it's a very simple recipe, and the bonus is you can make as much as you want and any color you want!). We would play with the play doh for hours. Thank god for linoleum floors. Big appliance boxes as others have said were castles to my preschool eyes. Mom would also get us huge rolls of craft paper and tempera paints and we'd just go to town painting pictures. That's the joy of being that age -- the essentials are really so simple. Paint, paper, glue, and space to use it in.
posted by contessa at 7:57 AM on May 10, 2010

I'm not very crafty, but what really helped was making a craft box. It's a big box, and inside are the following:

pipe cleaners in lots of colors
colorful little fluffy balls
glitter and glitter glue
foam stickers of animals, cars, etc
kid scissors
wooden and foam popsicle sticks in lots of colors

Add to this your typical marker/crayons and paper, and you've got an easy hour of entertainment--especially if it doesn't come out all that often.

Other things you could include:
finger paints
egg cartons
tp rolls

The place to get a lot of this stuff is Michael's or a similar craft store. Go once and fill a basket, and this will last a long time.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:23 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Provide materials; kids will make stuff. Change the materials available to keep it fresh and stimulate creativity.

Finger paints & glossy paper. Get red, yellow, blue and let them learn to combine colors. Find(free) a turntable and make spin art.

Make masks, fans, collages. Use cardstock (reuse manilla folders) cut in an oval. Adults make the eye, mouth and nose holes. Decorate with any & all sorts of stuff. Add yarn ties for mask.

Get some refrigerator boxes and paint, color, glitter and collage them. Turn them into clubhouses by adding doors and windows. (You) repaint them with any latex paint and they start over.

Go on a plant walk, and pick pretty grasses and leaves to dry between the pages of a thick book. Glue dried plant to paper. Make wash from 1:2 mix white glue:water. Place 1 layer tissue over plant, splodge w/ gluewash till thoroughly wet. allow to dry and the tissue will have become translucent. pretty

Body pictures. Use giant roll of paper. Kid lays on paper in any position. Other kids outline them. Kids color in their body picture and cut it out.

Cut a frame shape from cardboard. Kids glue on anything - paper, tissue, tape, macaroni, beans, etc. Spray with metallic paint - looks way cool. Put in the child's drawing or photo.

If kids can handle a camera, they love to take pictures, and cheap digital cameras make it affordable.

Get on freecycle. Ask for a tent; kids can play in it, paint it, etc. Also an excellent resource for dress-ups.

Oh yeah, chalk is so much fun.
posted by theora55 at 12:37 PM on May 10, 2010

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