Here’s a question: How often do you see a kid admire a craft, whether in person, in a craft book, or online, and then definitively declare, I’m not crafty. I can’t do that. Unless it’s truly beyond their skillset, using dangerous tools or complicated techniques that are perhaps not age appropriate, it’s a rare thing to hear. Now another question: how often do you hear that declaration from parents? Answer: All. The. Time.
I grew up in a household of making…my mom is an expert knitter and needlepointer and my dad can draw anything on demand. (He’s also a car, clock, and motorcycle tinkerer, which, let’s face it, is rooted in building and crafting.) There were never any no’s when it came to making. We had art supplies for days and ultimately, and not surprisingly, both my sister and I went to art school. And it’s all come full circle…I’m still doing arts and crafts, but now for my blog and my books, both called Project Kid.
I married a man much like my family with a great sense of design and an impressive talent for art, and my kids have been makers since they could hold a crayon. Going to Michaels trumps any trip to a big box toy story and, I swear I’m not just saying this, they will power down an iPad in a split second if I ask the question: do you want to make a project?.
There is something so beautiful about watching my kids dive into making without a fear of failure to stop them. They experiment, they make marks with wild abandon, and they revel in the anticipation of the final product, even if the result is not exactly what they set out to make in the first place. They invent and solve visuals problems with such amazingly creative fixes, and I think it’s partly because we allow them to look at everything as an art material, from pom-poms and yarn to bottle caps and cardboard boxes.
So if someone were to ask me my advice on how to craft with kids, I would offer these four tips and tricks.
- Designate a space. Whether you choose your kitchen table or your basement floor, knowing where the making is going to happen is key. It beckons everyone to the creation station and encourages you to keep everything you need for making close by.
- Let the mess happen. Resist the urge to clean up until after you are finished. Sometimes the most beautiful thing you’ll make all day will be the paint splatter on your drop cloth.
- Break the rules. When you pick a craft either from a blog or a craft book to make with your kids, follow the rules you need to follow and break the ones you can. If you don’t have a fringe trim to embellish a DIY doll, then it’s okay. Look around, improvise, and invent. You’d be surprised at what you can come up with when you blur your vision and see objects and craft supplies as textures and shapes.
- Think outside the box. Letting your kids make things that live beyond the refrigerator door is key to encouraging them to think big. Decorate their room, embellish a t-shirt, make a toy…the sense of pride that develops from projects that can be used will forever push them to keep making.
There’s no time like the present to get started! Here are three project ideas to make with your kids that will encourage creative, unplugged time together.
BOHO DREAM CATCHER
How do you wish away your four-year-old’s bad dreams? While there’s no guarantee this will work, it at least gets them to sleep at night (and looks good on the wall)!
What you’ll need:
- 8” embroidery hoop
- Creatology Acrylic Paint Set
- Paint brush
- Pot-holder Craft Loops
- Washi tape
- Loops & Threads™ Embroidery Floss, Assorted
- Multicolored Wood Beads By Creatology
- Paint the hoop and let it dry.
- In the meantime, lay a 12-inch piece of embroidery floss on cardstock and apply strips of washi tape over it. Cut out a feather shape, about 4-inches long, making sure not to cut the string. Fringe the edges to look like a feather.
- Thread beads over the string. Set aside.
- Stretch cotton loops over the inner ring of the painted embroidery hoop to create the dream catcher’s web.
- Cut the strings of your feathers to the desired length and use a little piece of washi tape to secure them to the inside of the larger embroidery hoop.
- Slip the larger hoop around the inner hoop and tighten the screw.
- Hang on your wall with a cotton loop and have sweet dreams!
CLAY JEWELRY DISHES
These little dishes are great for holding earrings, keys, or small treasures dug up from the backyard.
What you’ll need:
- Roll clay to about 1/4″ thick. Trace around a small bowl or shape it freehand into a circle.
- Lightly press circular disk of clay into the small bowl (make sure it’s oven-safe!) and bake in oven according to package instructions.
- Once the clay is completely cool, embellish bowls with gold leaf pen.
DIY PEACOCK FAN*
Cool off in the summer with this DIY fan. Mother Nature really got it right with peacock feathers. Stick with her color scheme or shake it up.
What you’ll need:
- 8 to 10 white feathers
- Acrylic paint in blue, yellow, green, and turquoise
- Gold glitter glue
- Blue and yellow craft paper
- Tacky glue
- Paint the feathers as shown or in your own design. Let dry.
- Add glitter glue embellishments—tiny dots or thin stripes are best. Let dry.
- To create the peacock’s body, draw a 2-inch tall figure eight on the back of the blue craft paper; make the top oval about half the size of the bottom one. Cut along the outside edge of the figure eight, leaving about 1⁄8 inch of space around it.
- For the beak, cut a tiny triangle from the yellow craft paper and glue it, pointing down, to the small end of the figure eight.
- To create your fan, cut a 1-inch square from either color of craft paper and glue the bottom points of your feathers to it close together in a fan shape.
- Finish by gluing the large side of the figure eight on top of the junction of the feathers.
*Excerpted from Project Kid by Amanda Kingloff (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Amanda Kingloff is the author of Project Kid, the upcoming Project Kid: Crafts that Go! (Artisan Books, September 2016), and is the former lifestyle director at Parents magazine, where she oversaw all DIY content for the brand. Before joining Parents, Kingloff worked as a crafter and producer for lifestyle personality Katie Brown. Now she posts fresh craft ideas weekly at projectkid.com and regularly contributes to a multitude of national magazine publications. You can follow along with her crafty adventures with her kids in real time on Instagram! She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, New York.