5 Easy Crafts for Kids! by Alex Maropakis
We can all agree that alongside the evolution of technology, green grass and outdoors games have slowly been replaced by smartphone screens.
In fact, a 2017 study conducted by The Lancet indicated that 63% of U.S. children spend over two hours a day on recreational screen time in spite of official guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Combined with our current dormant situation, this percentage has likely increased for all individuals, adults included–– recent statistics depict up to 9 hours of screen time in one day. This is ⅗ of a waking day, which usually consists of approximately 15 hours.
One reason for this development may be the implication that there is simply nothing else left to do. Whether it be watching TV, playing games, scrolling through tablets, and staring at computers, these tasks are often mindless and the monotony is useful for taking up time during an era where we seem to have too much of it. However, while screens are useful for research, reading, and aforementioned occupation, what are the effects of overuse?
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and other studies support that too much screen time may lead to:
Reading fewer books
Hindered academic performance
Less time spent with family and friends
Not enough outdoor/physical activity (further information on effects of a sedentary lifestyle)
Poor self-image and body image issues
Fear of missing out
Inattention problems in young children
Expressive language delay in 18-month old children
Less time learning other ways to relax and have fun
In these trying times, it is essential to find ways to keep yourself-- and your children–– happy, healthy, and entertained. Here’s how.
5 easy crafts for kids of all ages
PAINTED FLOWER POTS
Plants are relatively easy to take care of, and are perfect for teaching children responsibility–– while also serving as beautiful natural decor! Not only this, but there are a variety of scientifically-proven benefits associated with plants and gardening:
Improvements in concentration and memory
Improvements in mental health and optimism
Increased emphasis on environmental consciousness and appreciation
Increased feelings of positivity, security, and relaxation
Reduced stress levels
Increased feelings of compassion, contributing to improved relationships with others
Increased energy levels
Emergence of gardening as a therapeutic activity
Not only is this craft easy and fun, but it serves as a creative outlet for a useful item which can be displayed proudly around the home.
Any number of terracotta pots
Acrylic Paint Set (They do not have to be expensive!)
Paint Palette (one can easily be created out of a clean yoghurt carton lid or any flat, disposable surface)
Plastic cup filled halfway with water
*spray varnish (if using spray varnish, wear gloves and a mask!)
STEPS FOR METHOD 1: REGULAR PAINTED POTS
Prepare the area that you intend to paint in and your materials. I recommend a space outdoors. Wear clothes that you do not mind getting paint on, or an apron! Also set up a small space where you will leave your pots to dry afterward.
Squeeze a small blob of each of the paints you want to use onto your palette. Leave room for color blending if desired!
Using your brushes, paint anything that you can imagine on your pots. To clean your brush, swirl it in the cup and dab it dry with a paper towel.
A thin layer of acrylic paint will usually dry in 1-2 minutes.
A thick layer of acrylic paint will usually dry in 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how porous the surface is.
Remember, just because it is dry to the touch does not mean it is completely dry!
For extra protection, it is optional to spray your pot with varnish after it has dried.
STEPS FOR METHOD 2: POUR PAINTED POTS
Prepare the area that you intend to paint in and your materials. This will include at least two bricks that the pot can be flipped upside-down and propped up on.
Cover the hole in the bottom of the pot with painter’s tape.
Using the bottles of acrylic paint themselves, squirt different colors of paint onto the bottle to create any pattern or effect that you want. (i.e. marbled effect, stripes. . .)
Due to the thickness of the paint, it will likely take ~two days for the paint to fully dry. For extra protection, it is optional to spray your pot with varnish after it has dried.
Other materials can also be glued onto the pots, such as felt flowers or pipe cleaners bent to create an image or pattern. Be creative!
Here’s how mine turned out:
This year I took AP Physics 1. While the class was difficult, it did give me a better understanding of the world around us and how certain things work–– such as kites. Kites have always been magical for me, and even with the trick revealed, they are still something that even my Physics teacher takes joy in.
String or ribbon
2 straight sticks about 2-3 feet long, one slightly shorter than the other
Knife to cut into wood (Please ensure there is adult supervision present! Do not use a knife if you are very young or unsure of how to use it. Please be careful handling all sharp tools)
Carefully carve a small notch into both ends of each wooden stick. The notches must be cut in the same direction. Please ask an adult to do this for you.
Take the string and tie the sticks at the center so that they are shaped like a cross. Make sure the notches are lined up. The horizontal stick should be slightly shorter than the vertical stick.
Take your string into the notches around the ends of the sticks. It should look like a diamond.
Tie it off at the center.
Unfold the tablecloth and lie the kite frame on top. Cut around the shape. Leave an inch or two of “seam allowance” so that you can fold the edges over.
If you would like, use any kind of art supply to decorate this portion of your kite! Personify it. (i.e. write your name, draw your favorite animal, create a pattern, glue colored strips of paper to it. . .)
Spread the newspaper over the stick frame, fold the edges over the string, and staple them in place. Reinforce each end with tape, front and back.
Poke two holes through the vertical piece of wood, at the top and bottom of the kite. Use an embroidery needle to thread a piece of string from the bottom hole through the top hole of the kite. Tie off this string and leave a tail; this will be your “bridle.”
Tie your flying string to the bridle. Feel free to decorate with any ribbons!
Now it’s time to fly your kite!
MILK CARTON BIRDHOUSE/BIRDFEEDER
I always love waking up to the sound of birds chirping. Being able to feed your feathered friends at the same time is just a bonus.
Clean & dried milk/juice carton
Sheet of chipboard/recycled cardboard
Tissue paper squares in assorted colors
*Mod podge/spray sealant
Paint the milk and/or juice cartons white to prevent the package lettering from showing through the tissue paper.
Coat the sides of the carton with school glue using the sponge paintbrush.
Apply the tissue paper squares in any arrangement you’d like. (i.e. overlapping, stained glass effect. . .)
Gently brush the tissue squares with the sponge paintbrush after you’re finished to ensure that all the edges are glued down and secure.
Allow to dry.
Fold a piece of chipboard/cardboard in half widthwise. This will form the roof.
Cover the board with glue and tissue paper squares. Set aside and let dry.
Cut an opening for the door. For a birdhouse, use a smaller sized opening. For a birdfeeder, cut a large rectangular opening.
Cut a small slit below the “doorway” and stick in a popsicle stick to act as a perch. Secure with glue.
On the roof piece, cut two small slits about 2 inches apart and thread through the twine. Tie a knot on the underneath side of the roof.
Attach the roof to the carton using glue.
If you’d like, you can give the birdhouses a coat or two of mod podge or spray varnish. Do this in a well-ventilated area.
Hang your birdhouses outside! If you made a birdfeeder, fill it with bird seed and wait for the birds to flock to their new hangout.
My siblings and I used to build houses of cards. I would say that this is an effective way to knock them down; have a war in the living room, while you’re at it.
Block of wood
Milk or juice cap
Basic art supplies (markers, paint, etc.)
Glue the cap to the top of the clothespin near the edge of the “closed” side.
Decorate the catapults! Use as many art supplies as you would like.
Glue the clothespin to the block.
To use your catapult, slap your hand down onto the end of the clothespin after loading the cap. I recommend playing some sort of game where you have to knock something down using the catapult, but you could also see who can launch their cargo the farthest, or get it into a cup set up a few feet away.
I have made a countless amount of these in school, for a variety of things. Whether it be English class or a fun little thing to display on your shelf, there are endless possibilities with this final craft.
Basic art supplies (markers, crayons, paint, clay, etc.)
*figurines & miniatures
Cut the top off of any box that does not have a removable lid.
Create the background! This could be anything you like, from a simple blue sky and green grass to a creative world full of patterned papers. You could even draw your own using various art supplies. I recommend planning the world you’re going to create beforehand.
Make and place your figures. There are also various images online that you can print, cut out, and color to add to your world. Figures can also be created out of clay and painted to match your vision.
If you want to suspend objects, you could use any kind of string and glue it to the top of the box. If you want objects to pop up, create a tab at the bottom and glue the paper by that tab, so that it will have a 3D effect within the space.
Once you’re sure of the placement of your figures, glue them on.
Dioramas serve all kinds of purposes. They can be used as a storytelling tool, a gift, or even a 3D scrapbooking project to memorialize an important event. Regardless, this replica can always be added to and will forever commemorate your creative vision.
I hope these crafts were an inspiration to your muse. Although we may be stuck inside for the time being, this is a time that should be used to foster new hobbies, talents, and interests. While we may not all be a Michelangelo or da Vinci, art is an exciting and expressive outlet for pent-up energy or emotions that, once embraced, will bring light into any rainy day.