Did you know that arts and crafts play a large role in your child’s development? Art is often viewed as a “secondary” subject to math, science, etc. However, it actually encourages the development of motor skills, as well as creative thinking. As an added bonus, at-home crafts make a great, fun way for parents to bond with their children.
Of course, most children are content to use their imagination coloring and gluing paper plates, pipe cleaners, and cotton balls. However, if you want to help your child work toward a specific end product, we recommend trying one of the following at-home crafts.
1. Paper Towel Roll City (with Clothespin People)
This project takes a little bit of planning, but it provides an excellent alternative to crafts that get made and then promptly thrown away. Not only will your kids have fun making a paper towel roll city, but they can also play with it afterward.
To make this city, save up all of your empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls. Cut the rolls to different lengths or “heighths,” as these will be the skyscrapers and buildings in the city. Help your child cut out or color doors and windows on each roll, then paint the remainder of each roll a variety of colors. You can glue these cities to a base, or simply set them up on a flat surface. Use felt or cardboard as roofs. Encourage your children to get creative with their building design (e.g. candy store, barbershop, church, etc.)
After your kids have finished building their “city,” make clothespin citizens. Turn the clothespin sideways so that the gap between the two pieces of wood faces you. Color the “clamp” part of the clothespin to resemble legs, color the very top to resemble a head, and then color the middle section to resemble a shirt. Add embroidery thread for hair if desired. Each clothespin can be colored as two people (front and back).
2. Bubble Painting
Bubble painting is exceptionally fun for all ages and makes a particularly fun craft during the spring and summer months. To paint with bubbles, mix three tablespoons of bubble solution with a tablespoon or two with non-toxic paint. Lay a white canvas or paper flat, then gently blow the solution from the wand to the paper. Use a wide variety of colors for lots of fun, cheerful, abstract art.
3. Birdseed Ornaments
If you want to help your kids make a functional craft, consider birdseed ornaments. To make a birdseed ornament, mix boiling water with unflavored gelatine (according to the package directions), then add corn syrup and birdseed. After allowing the mixture to firm up slightly for 10-15 minutes, use shaped cookie cutters to shape and press together each ornament. As you do so, poke a hole in the top of the ornament to tie a ribbon through later. You can use a straw or a screwdriver to ensure that the hole is big enough.
Once shaped, place the ornaments in the fridge overnight. When they are firm and ready to, string a ribbon through the holes and help your kids select branches to hang them from. Keep in mind that particularly hot or wet weather will likely melt the ornaments, so they work best in cooler weather.
4. Butterfly Snack Bags
If you want to spice up snack time and have fun with your kids at the same time, try making a butterfly-shaped snack bag. These are extremely easy but a blast to make. First, use markers or paint to decorate clothespins to resemble butterfly bodies. Use pipe cleaners as antennae, and don’t forget the googly eyes. Then, clip the “butterfly bodies” directly onto the center of a sandwich baggie, from bottom to top. Each side of the sandwich baggie is a “wing” and can be filled with a different colorful snack.
One of the best things about these butterflies is that they are reusable. No more boring snack bags at your kids’ activities!
5. Shoebox Habitat
A shoebox habitat can be done over and over again with different animals from different parts of the world. Help your child select a habitat (desert, jungle, arctic, swamp, ocean, etc.) and then turn a shoebox into that habitat using craft materials. For example, a shoebox may be turned into a frozen tundra using silver paper, tinfoil, cotton balls, etc. An ocean might use real sand and seashells to recreate a beach. This is a great way for your child to research an educational topic while still having fun with a creative outlet. Once the shoebox has been deemed livable, your child can fill it with its corresponding plastic animals.
Have Fun with Your Kids!
Remember, arts and crafts aren’t usually about perfection. Take this time to bond with your child, educate them, and jsut have fun being creative together.