Craft kits for kids of wide age range (4 to 12)
November 17, 2016 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I would like to get my four grandchildren craft kits for Christmas. Their mom thinks it would be fun if they were all doing the same thing. Their ages are 12, 9, 6, and 4. Bonus points if you know about felting. Snowflakes inside.

The oldest is already accomplished at knitting and crochet. I was thinking of getting a felting kit for her - I found some really cute ones online. Her mom says that she would probably like it and I can do whatever I want, but it would be fun if the kids were all doing something together. They've enjoyed doing roll-up candles and they've used wood-burning kits, but I'd like to get them something they haven't done before. When I look at felting kits, they seem to be for ages 9 and up. There will be adults to help, but that still seems like it might not work for the four-year-old. I know nothing about felting at all. I just thought the kits were really cute.

The parents are opposed to toys using licensed characters, so no Disney, Harry Potter, etc. Nothing gender specific. Also I don't want to get them kits that make junk food. I like the idea of getting them individual kits so they'll have their own presents to open, but I'm open to buying them a lot of supplies they can share and use (if you have an idea for a project, please include everything I'd need to get - we'd like them to be able to do this on Christmas day). I have thought of getting felting kits for the two oldest and something else for the youngest, but the six-year-old really likes to do whatever her older siblings are doing. I would like to keep the whole thing under $100.

Crafty MeFites, please help!
posted by FencingGal to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
PomPoms? Probably right on target for the 9 year old, but I'd guess the 12 yo could probably still have fun with it and the 6 year old could manage. Maybe the 4 yo with help, or you could get the little one a kit where you're gluing pre-made pompoms to make things?
posted by Kriesa at 7:43 AM on November 17, 2016

Felting is fun but it involves using a sharp tool, so it would not be appropriate for the younger children. I made a Woolpets kit once and it was cute. Make sure whatever kit you get her includes a foam block, or purchase one separately (mine didn't, but some of the Woolpets do).

Embroidery/sewing is something that all ages can do (although the little ones will need more help). Something like this from Hearthsong says 7 and up, but I was doing that kind of sewing younger than that with help from an adult. The younger ones could do more simple projects while the older ones could embroider and embellish.
posted by radioamy at 7:49 AM on November 17, 2016

I was gifted this Klutz book with polymer clay when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I loved it! Polymer clay modeling remained a hobby of mine right clear through high school. I took clay when I babysat for younger kids and it was always scalable in terms of difficulty. I could make my things at my skill level, they could make their things at theirs, and in the end everyone was happy and entertained.

Looks like that specific book is out of print, but there are a ton of beginning polymer clay books, and several packs of Sculpey clay in a range of basic colors will keep you within your budget and give enough material for everyone to get a few projects in.

LOVE polymer clay.
posted by phunniemee at 7:50 AM on November 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

Wet Felting can be done with warm soap and water, and your hands or an old fashioned wash board.
no sharp tools required, so just avoid needle felting you'd be fine for all ages.

You can felt Christmas ball decorations (or balls for play) by felting around a plastic ball then cutting it open, taking out the ball, filling with rovings, and felting it closed again. My son did this at a fairly young age.
posted by chapps at 8:13 AM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Check out kits by Artterro. Quality, eco-friendly kits and a great small business run by two moms in Madison, WI.

posted by areaperson at 8:18 AM on November 17, 2016

Please don't hold the 12-year-old back if there's a cool idea that she might enjoy, that happens to be a bad fit for small children. If she's got three siblings, she probably compromises enough. The little ones probably could do with a little of their own very cool thing, too.

My ideas:

For the oldest, maybe Snap Circuits or Snap Circuits Junior (not a "craft" in the usual sense, but you do make things). There are also simple solar energy/electronics kits like this one to make a little bug toy (ages 8+).

It looks like Toys-R-Us has a search interface that lets you see 41 science kits for ages 3-4, although their definition of "kit" is pretty broad.

OK, these are not "craft" kits -- I didn't read the question closely enough, sorry -- but it's still cool to know about. Plus, you know, science is fun and if it can be made unintimidating at a young age, that's awesome.
posted by amtho at 8:20 AM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Science kits are fine - I'm just looking for something the kids can do. And yes, I am concerned about not holding the 12-year-old back, so ideas that involve similar sorts of things would be good too.
posted by FencingGal at 8:26 AM on November 17, 2016

Is "papercraft" as a whole similar enough? When I was 10-11 or so I had a period where I was really into paper quilling. It's kind of fiddly so I don't think a 4-6yo could handle it (though the 9yo probably could) but the younger ones could have some other kind of papercraft to do. I can't imagine being interested in any craft that was simple enough for a four year old to do when I was 12.
posted by corvine at 8:49 AM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

These knot-a-quilt kits are pretty cool. My six-year-old is getting one for Christmas. I'm thinking it could potentially be good for the younger ones, but knot-tying still might be advanced for the four-year-old. I think felting is super cool but only appropriate for the older ones; felting needles are crazy sharp. Could the younger two decorate a jewelry box? My daughter did this one and loved it.
posted by kitcat at 10:00 AM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

As an auntie of four:
Shrinky Dinks!
My go to craft for ages 4 to 80 😊

Easy for the young ones but still fun for teenagers and grown ups. Am on my phone but will come back with a link.
posted by M. at 10:36 AM on November 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Found the first Shrinky Dinks set that got my family hooked :
posted by M. at 10:43 AM on November 17, 2016

Tye-Dye kits? Little ones will need help to make simple things, the oldest can go nuts. Pretty sure I got a tye-dye kit (probably from Hearthsong) for Christmas at 11or 12, and my sister (5-6) made a shirt too. Include plain t-shirts, pillowcases, etc. Doll clothes could be fun for the little ones if they're into that.

Bonus: get the oldest some undyed yarn (knitpicks carries some) and the 12 yr old can experiment with dying her own!
posted by jrobin276 at 1:58 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

What about rug hooking (latch hook)? It would be too tough for the littlest one, but kits with precut wool strips, of increasing complexity for age might be fun for the older ones. My nearly six year old could manage a simple kit with some adult help. Perhaps the youngest might enjoy a 'glue fabric strips' on variety of this craft, which do exist.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 4:03 PM on November 17, 2016

Bees wax candles
posted by oceano at 8:08 PM on November 17, 2016

Most of the Klutz books are surprisingly good. Our "Pom-Pom Puppies" amused a group aged 7-12 for a couple of hours without interruption. I like them because while the initial projects are relatively formulaic and will come out looking like the book's, you still learn a skill, unlike some "craft kits" which are a lot of "glue A to B and paint with enclosed paints as shown" and no new skill is taught.

For felting I would consider a kit like the Klutz "Klutz Felted Friends." My homeschool co-op spent the better part of the day at a textile museum, and there was a felting component and...yeah, that was a lot of bored kids. Even the artsy-craftsy kids, presented with raw undyed wool and not much by way of accessories or ideas beyond 'It's...light, make a...snowman?' were pretty disinterested. (I know you mentioned 'kit' but sometimes they're just hanks of dyed raw wool, an awl, and badly printed instructions.)

We really dug melted bead crafts -- not Perler beads, but pony-bead-style plastic beads put in the oven. They were certainly not "around $5 for a pound" here as that page claims; it wasn't the cheapest craft. A lot of clear makes for some cool suncatchers, and you can gift a horde of beads with four metal baking trays and a good collection of metal cookie cutters (very fun if you have two that are the same but different sizes so you can make a hollow what-not). They make good Xmas tree ornaments and good rainbow-y what-nots to hang -- here is an example of why cookie cutters (esp. a set of mini ones) come in handy. Bowls are possible. The 4 can make simple things with random colours that will still come out nicely; the 12 can make much fancier things, and the adults might have fun with it too. Loads of plastic what-not turns out to melt just right, so it's also sort of a "What recycles?" project. (If the parents are going to get all freaked out about the house smelling of melted plastic for a bit: include a thrift store toaster oven for a basement or mudroom or garage? We found the smell dissipated quickly, though. Some people seem to've done it in a BBQ...)
posted by kmennie at 8:10 PM on November 17, 2016

Dick Blick's website has an amazing variety of projects and ideas. They also have "lesson plans" that have some guidance about ages, K-12. Each lesson plan is more like a project, it has a downloadable PDF and a list of materials. The projects tend to be kind of open-ended and adaptable to a wide age range. One of my favorites is the Start With a Circle project.

Also, I used to collect rubber stamps (I had more than 3000 of them), and found that kids of all ages can make amazing art with them.

On my personal wish list is this Geometrigraph set.

Swedish Weaving on Monk's Cloth is easy enough for a 4 year old and can be challenging for a 12 year old.

Also, there are a bazillion free paper models for all skill levels on the web. I especially like Mr. Printable, The Toymaker, Made by Joel, and MGulin.

If you search Pinterest for Craft Kits for Kids, the ideas are mind-boggling.
posted by Altomentis at 8:36 PM on November 17, 2016

If you have plain wool rovings it can be dyed with koolaid drink mix. Just dissolve the colour of your choice in cold water, then place the rovings in a plastic bag and hang in the sunlight for a day or two... don't agitate or squish.

When you take it out rinse in cold water until water runs clear, can be made all sorts of brilliant colours this way, cheaply.

I used plastic as a resist form for Felting... a large circle can be used as a resist for a beret to stop top and bottom Felting to each other. I got left over plastic from a photocopy shop that does laminating.

Anyway, a kit is a good way to start, but it is easy to make berets and puppets with wet Felting and is quite fun once you learn the basics. Sloppy and wet though. A beret would be a big project and probably too large to manage for younger kids.

A craft kit o enjoyed ... I think it was from klutz... was one for paintings with paint that react to sun. You paint the paper, the place objectd on the surface.. like leaves or paperclips, then leave it in the sun. After a wait, the paint that is hidden from the dun is darket, making it like a very old photo....
Which makes me think if pinhole cameras! Are there kits for those?
posted by chapps at 11:26 PM on November 19, 2016

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