5 Simple, Summer Crafts for Creative Kids of All Ages

This month in ParentLife, writer Kristen White wrote in "Essential Creativity" (pp. 32-33) about creativity with kids and how to be creative with them at home this summer. We wanted to give you some more great ideas. Check out these from creativity coach, Whitney Ferre.

June_23_craft.jpgThis summer the goal is to have fun, keep it simple, and feed your children’s minds with creative activities! You don’t need fancy supplies, have to spend a lot of money, or worry about perfection (P.S. it doesn’t exist). All you have to do is provide the raw material and the backyard table. It will be a little messy, it won’t look perfect, but it will be worth it. Why? Because so much of our kids’ lives are scheduled, structured, plugged-in, and “multiple choice” that the value of preserving some good ole’ creative time, where it is all about them, is priceless! Here are my top five summer crafts projects for kids of any age:

#1 Tie-dye

Supplies: Tie-dye kit, blank t-shirt/ tank/ beach towel/etc., gloves

You can’t beat it! I recommend buying a tie-dye kit. Jacquard makes some great, simple kits that have everything you need!  The colors will really stay vibrant (just follow the directions). You could do t-shirts (or cute tanks for girls, etc.). Or what about tie-dying white beach towels, bandanas, or cover-ups? You can tie-dye almost anything! This is definitely an outdoor project and be sure to wear gloves, or you and your kids’ hands will stay multi-colored for days. When you are finished, clean up is a cinch. Take the kids to the pool or turn on the sprinklers!

#2  Artsy Summer Tote

Supplies: Masking tape, non-toxic acrylic paint, plain tote bag (color is fine), paintbrush, sponges or stamps

Place the tape on the flat side of the bag in whatever shape you want. If you have younger kids, create “organized chaos” by taping paper to cover the rest of the tote so all of their creativity stays “in the lines.” Let them use a paint brush, their fingers, stamps, sponges, or anything else that is lying around that tickles their creative fancy (the beauty of outdoor craft projects). Start with one paint color at a time. If they want to use all colors, start with the lightest first and move up: yellow, orange, red, blue, purple, green. Or stay in one color family so the colors don’t get “mushed” into muddy colors. If your kids don’t have a long attention span, make it a multiple occasion craft and leave the rest for another day. Go with the flow! You have to with creative kids!

#3  Patriotic T-shirts

Acrylic or fabric paint, star-shaped sponge or cookie cutter, paintbrush

Your kids will feel so proud when they are sporting their own patriotic designs! Start with a red, white, or blue t-shirt and use the same colors of acrylic paint. You can use standard artist acrylic paint or specialty fabric paint. For ease, use whatever you have. Acrylic paint doesn’t come out of clothes, so either option is good. Use star-shaped stamps or if you have star shaped cookie cutters you can use those by painting the edges. They can use their fingerprints to make fun designs. Let them have at it. Watch your desire to control their experience. Let it be their project. People will recognize that your “little artist” is wearing an original design and you will be the one with the “gold star” by your name!

#4 Splatter Paint Bed Set

Supplies: Solid-colored or white sheets, acrylic paint, water, yogurt cup (empty & clean)

If you have kids around the 8-12 range, they will think you are so “cool” to let them do this. It may feel scary, but just take a deep breath and remember that it is all about fueling your kids’ inspired minds! Use any set of old/new solid-colored or white sheets. Mix 2 parts acrylic paint to one part water in the individual yogurt cup size containers. This will thin the acrylic so the sheets are still comfy in the end. Lay the sheets out on the grass, away from the house, and let the kids release their inner “Jackson Pollock”! Let the sheets dry in the sun, then wash them on the gentle cycle, and let the kids make their new beds! If you need to relax after this project, treat yourself to your own creative retreat and tap your own inner-Pollock here: http://www.manetas.com/pollock/jacksonpollock_by_miltos_manetas.swf

#5 Feed the Birds … in Style!

Supplies: Wooden craft-store feeder, shoe box, or old bird feeder; acrylic paint or old house paint; glue; found objects (i.e. glitter, bottle caps, buttons, etc.)

Kids love birds! For this project you can use just about anything to make a cool feeder for your yard.  Try a wooden bird feeder from a craft store, make a temporary feeder with a shoe box, or salvage an old bird feeder and give it a new life. Brainstorm with your kids about what you could turn into a bird feeder. See how many ideas you can come up with … an old shoe, a milk jug, a peanut butter jar with a wire handle to hang from a tree or hook. The possibilities are endless. Grab any acrylic paint or old house paint you have lying around and paint whatever medium you’ve chosen for your feeder. Glue on found objects such as glitter, bottle caps, buttons, those colorful erasers hanging around from goody-bags…or anything else that inspires your kids. Remember, the focus of all of these craft projects isn’t whether or not the bird feeder is still up in the fall or if the paint splattered sheets make it to the next season. It’s about encouraging and nurturing your child’s creative ability. Creativity is a “21st Century Skill” and more vital than ever for our national and global prosperity. If we’re not raising creative kids, who is going to create all of the solutions?


33Things_Kids_TPCover.jpgWhitney Ferre is a creativity coach, author, and mother of three kids. She’s the founder of The Creative Fitness Center in Nashville, TN. Featured on HGTV’s Our House, she is the author of two books, including 33 Things to Know About Raising Creative Kids. For more information about Whitney, visit www.creativelyfit.com. Provided by Whitney Ferre and Turner Publishing.