Spectacular Summer Craft Ideas for Kids

Fun indoor and outdoor activities for stretching out summer.

  • Photograph by Sabrina Helas

    Float Your Boat

    Turn a sheet of cork into a shipshape rowboat. First, print our boat template below. Paper-clip it to a sheet of thin cork (available at craft stores) and cut out the shape. Paint the cork with acrylic paint and let it dry. Use hot glue (adults only) to glue the bow and stern together where shown on the template. With a hole punch, make a hole for a twine towline. Create two oars from wood coffee stirrers, craft foam, and hot glue. Make slits in the boat's sides and insert the oars. Let your child's tiny critters row merrily down the stream.

    Originally published in the August 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Sabrina Helas

    Explorer's Bag

    This mesh sack lets natural-treasure collectors leave sand, water, and dirt behind.

    1. Fold over the top two inches of a plastic mesh produce bag (fold outward, not into the bag). Cover the resulting flap with a layer of duct tape. Unfold the bag so the tape is on the inside.

    2. Make a handle by folding a 14-inch length of duct tape in half lengthwise. Adhere the ends of the handle to the tape on the bag. Cover the exposed tape with another layer of tape, sandwiching the handle in between.

    3. If the bag is open at the bottom, fold a length of tape over it. Patch any holes in the bag by sandwiching them between two pieces of tape.

    Originally published in the August 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Sabrina Helas; Idea by Nicole Blum

    Bug Inn

    This observation station gives kids a closer look at found insects.

    Start with a plastic juice bottle. Use a craft knife (an adult's job) to cut a hole about an inch smaller than a window screen repair patch. Fold 1-inch-wide strips of duct tape over the cut edges. Do the same with the screen's edges. Tape one long edge of the screen to the bottle, creating a hinge. Add a strip of adhesive-backed Velcro to the opposite side of the door. Note: Be sure to evict your bug tenants after a few hours.

    Originally published in the August 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski; Idea by Esther Taal

    Clay Critters

    Make a menagerie of critters by sculpting just a few simple shapes. See the step-by-step instructions for our cat at the link below. Then, using the same technique, try your hand at creating an elephant or a bunny, penguin, or pig!

    Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

  • Photograph by Doug Merriam

    Fancy Flops

    Give plain-Jane rubber flip-flops an upgrade that adds comfort as well as style. Cut a 1/2-inch-wide strip of knit fabric about 4 feet long. Use fabric glue to adhere the end of the strip to the edge of the strap where it meets the sole. Wrap the strip around itself once and apply more glue to hold it. Wrap the strip around the rest of the strap, adding dots of glue as you go. Finish the strap as you started it, then trim the excess fabric. Cut circular shapes of various sizes out of scrap fabric. Using a large sewing needle or a craft knife (adults only), poke a hole in the center of the circles. Insert a brad into the holes and fold back the arms to secure the circles. Use fabric glue to attach the flower to the fabric-wrapped straps.

    Originally published in the August 2013 issue of FamilyFun.

  • Surf's Up Shirt
    Surf's Up Shirt

    Easy-to-Make Summer T-shirt

    Hit the beach in an easy-to-make surfboard tee. Your child can help choose the fabrics and cut out the shapes.

  • Ed Judice

    Summer Adventure Calendar

    Make the most of the fleeting days of summer with a linear calendar that is part planner, part scrapbook.

    On card stock circles, write numbers for all the dates of the summer. Start with the day school vacation begins for your family and end with the first day of school in the fall. Glue the circles to clothespins, then clip the pins to a length of sturdy yarn tacked to the wall. Before the summer vacation begins, clip items that correspond to plans you have, such as tickets to an event or a museum brochure. As the days pass, clip mementos of what you did each day, such as a feather from a hike or a seed packet from your new garden.

  • Ed Judice

    Glow-loons

    Illuminate your summer table with the soft glow of these bloblike lights.

    For each, cut the neck from yellow and orange 12-inch-round balloons. Stretch the opening of the balloon over the top of a battery-operated tea light. To fill out your balloon, pinch open a section of its base and puff some air inside.

    Idea by Camilla Fabbri

  • Ed Judice

    Fun-O-lympics Ribbon Wand

    Go for the gold with a ribbon streamer wand that's perfect for rhythmic gymnastics in your own backyard.

    Start with 1 1/2 yards of 1 1/2-inch-wide satin ribbon. Trim both ends with pinking shears to prevent fraying. Bend a 2-inch length of 20-gauge craft wire in half, forming a narrow "u" shape. An inch from one end of the ribbon, use a large needle to make two holes about 1/8 inch apart in the center of the ribbon's width. Insert the ends of the wire into the holes and pull the wire two thirds of the way through. Bend the ends of the wire so that they're perpendicular to the length of the ribbon. Fold the end of the ribbon over the wire ends and secure it with tacky glue.

    Push a thumbtack through the loop and into the end of a 5/16-inch dowel. Don't press the pin all the way in -- leave some space for the wire loop to rotate.

  • Ed Judice

    Flip-Out Flip-Flops

    Jazz up a cheap pair of flip-flops with lightweight craft foam embellishments.

    Download our flip-flop templates below by clicking here and cut the shapes from craft foam. Use glue dots to attach the stacked pieces of the flower and to adhere the bird's wings and beak to its head. Add eyes with permanent marker. Attach the shapes to the flip-flop's straps with heavy-duty mounting tape (we used Scotch brand).

  • Ed Judice

    T-shirt Tunic

    With a little help from an adult, your child can recycle a T-shirt into a comfy tunic that she'll jump, twirl, and flip over.

    Start with an ironed T-shirt (men's medium or large). Lay it flat and following the illustration, mark and cut the sleeves and neck from the shirt. At what will be the neck of the tunic, fold and press with an iron a 1"-inch hem toward the inside of the shirt, on both the front and the back. Use embroidery thread and a needle to sew the two hems into 1-inch-wide channels. Attach a safety pin to a 48-inch-long, 3/4 inch-wide fabric ribbon. Feed the ribbon, pin first, through both channels to form a loop. Pull the ribbon to cinch up the neck of the tunic, then tie the ribbon ends in a bow.

  • Ed Judice

    Fairy Crown

    Transform a cardboard tube into a fanciful tiara that'll inspire magical play.

    Decoupage a paper towel tube with colorful tissue paper and let it dry. You can use a decoupage medium, such as Mod Podge, or a solution of equal parts tacky glue and water. Brush it onto the tube, one section at a time, cover with pieces of tissue paper, and brush the top with more glue. Flatten the tube, then make alternating cuts into the sides, almost all the way through, as shown. Unflatten the tube and gently stretch it apart to create connected rings. Tape the ends of the tube together. With tacky glue add glitter, sequins, feathers, and pom-poms.

  • Ed Judice

    Bug-Keeper Pendant

    Got an amateur entomologist in the house? Let him get up close with a bug buddy for short observation sessions. Be sure to remind your scientist to free his subject after a half hour or so.

    With a pushpin, make holes all over the cap of a plastic toy capsule from a gum ball machine. (Not interested in bugs? Omit the airholes from the cap and use the capsule as a revolving display of favorite tiny items: pebbles, acorns, Squinkies...) In the center of the cap, make a larger hole with a nail. Thread some beads onto a length of cord that's long enough to easily slip over your child's head. Feed both ends of the cord through the large hole in the cap. Thread the ends through a small bead and knot the ends together.

    Originally published in the June/July and August issues of FamilyFun magazine.