Simple Craft Projects for Kids

Simple Crafts Go Green Personalized Nameplate
Alexandra Grablewski
For fun family time, try one of these sweet and easy projects made from everyday materials.
Photograph by Sabrina Helas
Photograph by Sabrina Helas

Chalk Pops

With our easy recipe, you can make sidewalk chalk in fun shapes using ice pop or silicone baking molds. First, choose molds you no longer use for food. Spray the insides with plain cooking spray. In a disposable plastic container, mix plaster of paris (we used 1 cup to fill two 3-ounce wells in our mold) with water according to the package directions. Stir in poster or tempera paint, a drip at a time, until the mixture reaches the desired color. Pour the plaster into the mold, then tap the sides to release any large air bubbles. To make more colors, wipe any remaining plaster from your mixing container with a paper towel and start a new batch. Allow the plaster to harden overnight before removing the chalk from the molds.

Crafter's Tip: Never rinse plaster into the sink. Instead, wait for it to dry, then throw the dried plaster away.

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski; beaded necklace idea by Pam Abrams
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski; beaded necklace idea by Pam Abrams

Jewelry to Dye For

Our modern take on the classic pasta craft is bright, bold, and colorfast.

Getting Started:

First dye the pasta. For each color, pour 5 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol into a ziplock bag. (You can substitute distilled white vinegar for the rubbing alcohol, but the pasta will become a bit more brittle.) Add 15 or so drops of food coloring. Seal the bag and swirl it to combine. Add 1/2 cup pasta, then seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Move the pasta around so that the color is evenly distributed. Let it sit in the bag for 15 minutes, then pour the pasta onto a cookie sheet lined with foil. Use a skewer to spread the pieces into a single layer to dry completely, about an hour.

For the Neckaroni:

Beaded necklace (at top left): Thread pasta (we used rigatoni, ziti, and wagon wheels) onto a cord. Tie the ends together.

Penne-dants (at right): Glue pasta pieces (we used ziti, wagon wheels, ditalini, and a star) together with tacky glue. Let them dry on waxed paper.

If needed, adhere a piece of ditalini to the back to provide a hole for stringing.

For the Earrini:

Straight earrings (at left): String a piece of ditalini onto a 7-inch length of craft wire. Fold the wire in half with the ditalini in the center. String a star onto each wire end, then insert both ends through a piece of ziti. Top with a mini wheel and a ditalini, then twist both ends around an earring wire.

Circular earrings (at bottom left): Loop and twist one end of a 5-inch length of craft wire around an earring wire. Thread stars and ditalini onto the craft wire, bend it into a circle, then loop and twist the end around the earring.

Crafter's Tip: Earring wires are available at craft stores; ours were $3 for 30 pairs.

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Sabrina Helas
Photograph by Sabrina Helas

Carton Critters

Got egg cartons? Turn them into these forest-animal finger puppets.

From a cardboard egg carton, cut a section consisting of two cups and the raised post between them. Cut ears or antlers from cereal-box cardboard and glue them to the back rim of the carton. Paint as desired. Glue on googly eyes and a pom-pom nose. To use the puppet, press a finger or two into the back of the nose section.

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Curled-up Kitty

We coiled strips of newspaper to make a cat, but you can use the technique to form other animals and letters. Go wild!

  1. Cut a sheet of newspaper lengthwise into 5-inch-wide sections. We used 5 1/2 strips to make our cat.
  2. Fold each strip in half lengthwise 3 times to end up with a strip that's roughly 1/2 inch wide. Press the folds flat.
  3. Start coiling by rolling one end of the strip tightly around itself. Add strips to the coil by adhering the overlapping ends with a glue stick. Finish the shape by gluing down the end.
  4. For the eyes and head, start with a larger center circle before coiling.
  5. Make other shapes, such as ears and a tail, as shown.
  6. Arrange the shapes on waxed paper and add tacky glue where the pieces touch. Let the glue dry completely.
  7. Use tacky glue to add folded-paper features, such as feet, a nose, and a mouth.

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Spring Chickens

With a tap, the heads of these pretty birds bobble on their wobbly necks. To make one, roll bakeable polymer clay (such as Sculpey) into two balls for the head and body. Press wings and a tail onto the body, then use a toothpick to add details. Press a yellow clay beak onto the head and insert glass seed bead eyes. Make a spring: roll 2 to 3 inches of 20- or 22-gauge wire around a chopstick, leaving the ends straight. Insert the ends into the head and body, then bake as the clay package directs.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski; Idea by Lucy Ancheta-Atkins
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski; Idea by Lucy Ancheta-Atkins

Painted Desert

Even without sunlight or special care, these stone succulents stay green and are always in bloom. Paint small rocks with acrylic paint and let them dry. For a cactus with arms, join several rocks with tacky glue. Place the project on parchment paper until the glue dries, then paint on flowers, needles, and other details. For a planter, tape over the hole inside a small pot. Fill it with sand, then nestle the cacti on top.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Nutty Animals

Turn nuts and bolts (and a few other hardware store leftovers) into a metallic menagerie. Here's how:

  1. Collect several empty cans. For each animal, you can keep one end open, or nest a slightly smaller can inside.
  2. Use 1/2-inch round magnets to attach nuts, corner brackets, hex bolts, machine screws, and more to the cans. For extra sturdiness, use 1/2-inch permanent glue dots to adhere the pieces to the magnets.
  3. Create feet for legs by screwing nuts on the ends of machine screws. For whiskers, place screws at the edge of a magnet; the magnetic attraction will hold them on.

For safety's sake, keep magnets and small hardware items away from young children.

Originally published in the February 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Alexandra Grablewski
Alexandra Grablewski

Sock Couture

A few snips are all it takes to turn orphaned socks into sweet outfits for beloved (but chilly) stuffed animals.

For a hoodie, cut the toe from an ankle sock. Put the sock on the stuffed animal, using the heel as the hood. Use chalk to mark the places for ear and arm openings. Remove the sock and cut the holes.

For a sweater, cut off the straight, ankle portion of a sock. Cut off the toe for a cap. Add ear and arm openings using the chalk method above.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Pinstruments

Kids can conduct experiments in music-making using just tape and hairpins. Attach one end of an opened bobby pin to an object with washi tape (which peels off without leaving a residue). Have them strum the pin with their thumb. Does it make a sound? Is it loud or quiet? Try different objects and bobby pin sizes to see which produces the best (or just the loudest!) tones.

Originally published the October 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Old Dog, New Trick

Instead of the traditional apple-head doll, create a French bulldog, decked out in a jaunty beret. Peel an apple, leaving the skin near the stem intact. Carve a face and the outlines of the ears with a plastic knife. Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Roll the apple in the solution, let it sit for a few minutes, then pat it dry. Over the next two weeks, store it on a wire rack in an oven with the light on (whenever it's not in use). When the apple is shriveled and dry, make a cut under each ear to separate it from the head. Press in black-eyed pea eyes and rice teeth. Set your pup on a paper collar with or without metal studs.

Originally published the September 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Idea by Amy Johnson, Photograph by Aaron Dyer
Idea by Amy Johnson, Photograph by Aaron Dyer

Shoe Gnomes

Enlist the organizing power of gnomes to help your kids keep their shoes neatly paired. To make one, download the cloak template below. Use it to cut the shape from felt. Fold the robe in half vertically, and whipstitch the sides of the hood together. With a large-eye needle and embroidery floss, make 1/8-inch-long stitches around the neckline of the cloak, leaving 2-inch tails on either end. Cinch and tie the ends to secure the cloak around a peg-style clothespin. Add a face with markers.

Originally published the September 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Idea by Laura Richard of houseofjoyfulnoise.com, Photograph by Aaron Dyer
Idea by Laura Richard of houseofjoyfulnoise.com, Photograph by Aaron Dyer

Steel Yourself

Your child can help peruse the hardware store to choose the washers, nuts, and other small metal pieces needed to make these tough bracelets. Use simple hitch knots to attach two lengths of leather cord to the hardware. Tie the ends together around the wrist.

Originally published the September 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Aaron Dyer
Photograph by Aaron Dyer

Salt-Water Paintings

This ingenious technique blends watercolors and salt for a beautiful, ethereal effect. Use the finished paper to wrap containers, gifts, and more. Cover a sheet of watercolor or other heavy paper with one or two colors of watercolor paint. While the paper is still wet, sprinkle on some coarse salt. When the paper dries, brush off any salt that remains.

Originally published the September 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Tic-Tac-Toe Mat

This portable game mat is dressed up with button playing pieces (taking an expedition to choose them can be part of the fun).

Originally published the August 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Doug Merriam
Photograph by Doug Merriam

Stand-up Guys

Show four-legged dinosaurs who's boss with this cleverly designed bipedal model.

Originally published the May 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Idea by Sophie Cowperthwait, Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Idea by Sophie Cowperthwait, Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Checkers Mate

Duct tape turns a ziplock bag into a game board that holds handmade playing pieces.

Originally published the December/January 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Idea by Amy Ward, Photograph by Doug Merriam
Idea by Amy Ward, Photograph by Doug Merriam

Pipe Cleaner Pals

Construct these acrobatic friends, then pose them any way you like.

Originally published the April 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Mark Mantegna
Photograph by Mark Mantegna

Clothespin Butterflies

Let your creativity take flight with this easy craft for all ages.

Originally published the November 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

How to clear your baby’s nose using saline drops and a bulb syringe.

Photograph by Mark Mantegna
Photograph by Mark Mantegna

Animal Mix-Ups

Transform our cow, goat, giraffe, and horse into new crazy critters with a quick paper makeover.

Originally published the November 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

This lovable giraffe can stand up all on its own thanks to sturdy clothespin legs.

Photograph by Sabrina Helas
Photograph by Sabrina Helas

Feeling Koi

Some would say that every day is children's day, but in Japan, kids get an official Children's Day. On May 5, they fly wind socks that resemble carp, symbols of strength and bravery, to bring good fortune.

  1. Use a craft knife (adults only) to cut the bottom off a plastic cup; discard. Place two duct tape squares on opposite sides of the cup, about halfway down from the top. Stick matching squares inside. Use the craft knife to poke a small hole through each duct-taped section.
  2. Push the ends of a 20-inch length of yarn through the holes from the inside out and tie a knot in each end. Tape over the knots to secure them.
  3. Cut about 35 two-inch squares from thin plastic tablecloths in various colors (we got ours at a dollar store). Cut one side of each square into a curve to make a fish-scale shape.
  4. Starting at the bottom of the cup, attach overlapping rows of scales with glue dots. When you reach the last row, use a permanent marker to draw facial features on the scales before attaching them.
  5. Cut 15 12- by 1-inch strips from one of the tablecloths. Attach them inside the tail of the cup with glue dots.

Originally published in the May 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Canned Hams

Conquer clutter with a clan of charming monster containers guaranteed to make you laugh.

Collect empty cans of various types (ours held tennis balls, cookies, coffee, and Play-Doh). Use double-sided tape to cover them with scrapbook paper. Add cutout paper features with tacky glue or tape, then watch your new friends devour paper clips, coins, marbles, and more!

Originally published in the May 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

Goofy Grins

Smiles can be infectious, especially when you have a collection of silly mouth masks to share. For each, use markers to draw a mouth on card stock. Cut out the shape, then tape a thin dowel to the back.

Originally published in the May 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Alexandra Grablewski
Alexandra Grablewski

Go Green

For this ephemeral nameplate, take a walk with a purpose, collecting such items as leaves, stems, and twigs. Back home, have your child write his name lightly in pencil on sturdy paper. Glue the natural items over the penciled lines.

Originally published in the September 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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