True story: I am the least crafty person on the planet. Okay, well, maybe not, but I definitely rank in the lower-than-average realm. I am not a creative person and spending what little free time I have doing arts and crafts does not sound appealing. Nor does the post-craft cleanup. But we can’t spend every weekend day at the park or out somewhere, and I know that a little variety is good for my kids’ development and imagination. So reluctantly, I set out in search of easy, mess-free(ish) crafts that didn’t require a trip to a hobby store and that I was least likely to screw up. In addition to meeting my high standards of clean, interesting, and using on-hand items that I didn’t need to go out and purchase, I also needed to come up with things that could entertain a four-year-old and one-year-old at the same time. It was a tall order. Read on for a few of my attempts.
I realized I really don’t have a lot of craft supplies in my house already, so the following were purchased in the name of homemade crafts. At least now I have them on hand for future craft sessions.
- Liquid starch
- Food Coloring
Lunch Bag Kite
Although we use bento boxes and reusable lunch bags for school, we happen to have brown paper bags sitting in our kitchen drawer, so this seemed like a good use for them. My daughter has been asking to fly kites for a while, so I figured this could be a good “introduction” and although it was a fun little craft with minimal mess and cleanup, it definitely did not meet her high expectations of kite flying. Still, it was fun for the kids for a good 30 minutes (probably because I let them both have popsicles so we could use the sticks). Most of the enjoyment came from the coloring of the lunch bag. She “flew” the kite for about 90 seconds–and it mostly just flopped behind her. But when I asked if she liked it, she replied with an exuberant “yes!” So I’ll count this one as a win.
As if we don’t have enough noise making machines and toys in our house, I thought it was a good idea to make rain sticks. Really, this stemmed from requiring very few items to make. However, because there was absolutely no chance my kids would make one rain stick together, I actually had to unroll a half-full roll of paper towels so we could make two at once–only to find my son had no interest in participating. But he did enjoy smushing the empty paper towel roll to oblivion. Next time, I’ll plan in advance and save them as I run out of paper towels. This was insanely easy, and because I stuck to crayons and stickers on construction paper, there was basically no mess.
I’m not sure if we didn’t put in the aluminum foil correctly or this is just a crappy craft, but it didn’t sound much like a rain stick, and after my daughter’s initial excitement, after trying it once, she looked at me and said, “this is a stupid craft.” So there’s that. It was worth a shot anyway. I only wish I hadn’t wasted a half cup of organic brown rice for this.
I was hesitant to try this because A) was it really “mess-free” as they claim to be and B) did I want to waste a bunch of household supplies in the name of maybe 30 minutes of fun? The answer was most assuredly yes. I gravitate toward anything STEM-related since that really falls in line with our logical personalities, but this didn’t feel too science-y.
Although my son wanted nothing to do with the actual slime, he excitedly participated in the pouring of ingredients. Frankly, given that he was saying “milk” over and over and pointing to the glue and liquid starch concoction, I’m happy he didn’t want to participate because I was mostly paranoid it would result in a call to poison control.
My 4-year-old, on the other hand, was fascinated by the whole thing. She spent 25 minutes messing around with it and then begged for more time after we put her brother to bed. In all, she spent almost an hour playing with it and asked me to save it for the next day.
The slime was much messier/stickier than I expected. To clean up, we had to use a wet paper towel to take off as much as possible from our hands then move to the utility sink in the laundry room and wash the rest off. I followed the proportions of recipes I consulted online, so I may have to adjust those on future batches. Based on photos I looked at online, it shouldn’t stick to your hands this way.
These were fun little experiments to see what we could come up with at home that broke up the monotony of coloring books and legos. Although they definitely upped the effort level required of me on a Saturday morning, it was fun to watch the kids experiment and work together in ways that they hadn’t before. What are your go-to crafts to keep the kids entertained?