A few weeks back, I posted about my desire to pull together a collection of craft materials for my son’s 7th birthday. In that post, I asked readers to help me come up with additional materials and supplies and tools that I could consider for inclusion, and you sure delivered! While I didn’t grab everything suggested, I was able to add some additional items to the small pile hidden in a closet. To hold everything, I bought a 5-gallon bucket and a tool-skirt (it offers up pockets on the inside and outside of the bucket while still making the bucket available for larger items) and tucked in the glue sticks, scissors, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, wiggly eyes, construction paper, felt, tubes, straws, bobbles, and a dozen more items… very little room was left.
My son doesn’t need a lot of inspiration… he just makes what he wants. Sometimes he asks for challenges from me — “I want a four-legged creature that can stand on its own and will fit in a shoebox.” Off he goes. “Make me a bookmark that doesn’t require any gluing.” Off he goes.
I’m not an infinite bank of ideas, however, so lately we’ve been working through his copy of Project Kid: 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun by Amanda Kingloff. It’s 270+ pages of full-color steps for creating all sorts of wondrous things — Cotton Ball Sheep, Yarn Birdcage, Robot Bank (we’re almost done with this one, and it’s awesome!), Low-Tech LED Banner (no LEDs, but round stickers), Tube Train, the Bottle Rocket (seen on the cover), Newspaper Pirate Ship, Arrow Through Head (a classic accoutrement), Homemade clay (done, and he LOVED it!), and even Salad Spinner Art (you have to see it to believe it). And 90 more.
I would estimate that 80% of the crafts will need adult supervision for ages 7 and under… maybe even 8 or 9. Most of the crafts involve fewer than 10 steps, but some of these may be beyond your young one’s reading skill level… a dozen or so involve scissors and a hot glue gun, and many involve paint, so just be aware.
What I really like about the book is how eye-catching and appealing it is for kids. Bright colors, large numbered steps, and many half and full page color photos make the book easy to browse for a young child looking for something to make. Every project has a complete list of tools and supplies, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that most projects came with very short lists… and even better, many of the supplies are things you’ll either already have around the house OR are very inexpensive trinkets that can be picked up at your local craft store (and a few at the hardware store). The projects are most definitely low-cost, meaning parents won’t cringe when their kids go a little crazy on the beads and tape and string.
My sons aren’t quite old enough to work by themselves in my workshop, so I’m always on the lookout for projects that are safe for them but that also let them enjoy creating something. For me, it’s not about a perfect creation… and it’s not about whether it looks like the item in a photo or a website. It’s about the doing. And I try to find projects where my son can work by himself; I want to encourage him to explore and increase his confidence in his own skills.
When I handed him his copy of Project Kid, I told him this was his book and he should go explore for a bit. The book is broken into seven categories: Animal Kingdom, Hold Everything, Home Sweet Home, Playtime, Ready to Wear, The Great Outdoors, and Abstract Expressions. It didn’t come as a surprise that he gravitated to the animal-related projects and the outdoor crafts, but for his first week of summer break we took a look at the book’s six lessons that include some training on weaving and fabric dyeing among others. He’s having fun… I’m enjoying watching him have fun… and we get some time together where I can watch that little mind of his take in all his supplies and then watch where his creativity takes him.
I’m already looking at my son’s Craft Bucket and realizing I’ll be making a supply run this week or next to refill that bucket. My son just ran down the stairs a few minutes ago to show me his “Robot Bird” — white duct tape, construction paper, and glue. It’s not a project from the book, but that’s okay… this was all his, with no challenge issued. “Why a robot bird?” I asked. “I like birds and robots and I like Perry but I don’t want a platypus. See? It has a tail like Perry.” A perfectly logical explanation (if you’re familiar with Disney’s Phineas and Ferb).
If you’re looking for some really fun and creative projects to do with your own kids, you’ll find Project Kid and its 100 crafts to be a great way to pass the time.
Note: I’d like to thank Elizabeth Z. for providing a review copy of the book.