Craft, Creative Ideas and Projects For Kids

Ideas, tutorials and DIY projects to inspire children. Banish boredom and get your kids creating and making.
Weekend and holiday projects for kids and the young at heart.
Kids love handcraft, making and creating and if given the chance will choose real activities over TV and computer games!
For even more creative ideas and activities head over to Action Pack

Heather Swain is a former third-grade teacher, mother of two, writing instructor, magazine fact-checker, freelance magazine writer, and an award-winning author. Her articles and personal essays about parenting have appeared in American Baby Magazine, Time Out New York Kids, and on Her fiction books include Me, My Elf and I (Puffin/Speak, 2009) and two adult novels (published by Downtown Press/Pocket Books) Eliot’s Banana and Luscious Lemon. She lives, works, and plays in a crooked house in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their two children.

I wrote Play These Games as a follow-up to my first craft book Make These Toys because I believe that all kids are natural-born game players. Ask them to pick up their socks, and they’ll whine and cry and act like you demanded them to move boulders. But turn it into a game (who can do it the fastest), and you’ll see socks in drawers in no time.

Playing games is the perfect antidote for boredom. We all do it. Whether it’s logging on to computer Solitaire instead of working or folding a paper football during a droning lecture or mounting a family board game on a rainy Saturday, games are part of our lives and probably have been since the first cave kid threw a rock and her brother tried to throw one farther. Not all games need to be competitive, though. The cooperative kind can be just as fun (not to mention edifying).

Though you’ll find aisles and aisles of games at toy stores—from card games and board games to computer games on handheld gadgets, computers, and home entertainment systems—you can get all the benefits of a good game with everyday objects hanging around your house. If you involve kids in making the games or set them loose and let them try it themselves, they’ll be more invested in playing and just might have more fun.

A good game is one that is easy to learn but hard to master. In Play these games you’ll find some games that are competitive, others that are cooperative. There are games for large groups, duos, and a few that can be played alone. Some of these games are reinterpretations of old favorites (such as Friends and Family Go Fish or a felt version of Tic-Tac-Toe), while others are mini versions of arcade super stars (like Shuffle Button, Micro Golf, and the pinball machine). Some I might have even made up (like Hoop Jousting and the Progressive Photo Scavenger Hunt), but that’s not to say someone else hasn’t made up something similar somewhere along the line.

What I find most wonderful about making and playing games at home with my kids are the hidden benefits.

1. Brain Development :: When you look closely at games you’ll start to see that most of them involve solving a problem—whether it’s how to get that tiny ball into a hole 30 feet away or guessing a book title from your sister’s crazy arm flapping—your brain is engaged in some heavy-duty thinking. And with active games, your body is working as well. Great educators have realized that games are an excellent way to engage children in learning, but don’t tell the kids. Just present them with games and let them figure that out on their own.

2. Socialization :: Any game that involves more than one person involves socializing, whether it’s cooperating during a scavenger hunt or competing to see who can get the most balls in a basket. Playing games with kids teaches team work, the consequences of cheating, and how to be good sports whether they win or lose. It’s not hard to see how those skills make it into the daily lives of kids in the classroom, on play dates, and later in life in the workplace. But like all things we hope to teach our children, learning to cooperate or to compete without being a jerk takes practice. Humans aren’t naturally good at losing, so there will be tears, yelling, and cheating, and maybe somebody will even knock over the board, but that’s okay. The point is, playing games within the family allows kids a safe place to practice getting along, following rules, and learning how to be graceful in defeat. So when your kids deserve a technical foul for the fits they’re pitching over a game, call it quits for then, but definitely come back to more games later. If you do that enough you’ll start to see more mature players coming to the table.

3. Saving Money :: Ask most kids to name a game and they’ll talk about something on a screen. I have no problem with video games. In fact I like them. But like most things that kids love, I figure some boundaries are in order, such as making sure computer games are age appropriate — and setting time limits. However, video games and the systems we play them on are expensive! Making games out of paper cups and Ping Pong balls is cheap . . . and I’ll be the first to admit that I like saving a buck. Even more, I like engaging my kids in new and different experiences. So maybe we’ll play computer games one day, but the next, we’ll make a homemade pinball machine out of a box we found on the street corner.

4. Fun! Fun! Fun! :: And finally, let’s not forget the biggest, most important reason for playing games with kids: It’s a rocking good time! I think of my own childhood playing neighbourhood games of Cops and Robbers or Freeze Tag in our backyard with the fireflies or cozy winter nights around board games with my parents or bonding with my grandmother when she taught us to play Hearts. Gaming defines an important part of childhood and the memories of those times will last. So, turn off the TV, unplug the Wii, and start gathering supplies because it’s time to play!


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Delia blogs at delia creates. She is a mom to two boys and a brand new baby girl who believes that creating things with her hands is one of the keys to creating a beautiful, fulfilling life.

Hi WhipUp readers! I am so happy to be here with you and Kathreen today. When Kathreen asked me how parenting has changed how and why I create, the first answer that came to mind, was that they are the reason I create.

I think children bring out the best, truest parts of ourselves. They give us reason to celebrate holidays, and milestones to the fullest. They see us as we a really are… amazing individuals capable of amazing things.

I’ve always considered myself someone with creative tendencies, but creativity didn’t become a passion until after I had children. They provided me both with opportunity and inspiration to try, to learn, to create.

Creativity requires risk and vulnerability and who better to teach us about that, than children. They who try new things almost daily show us we can too.

One of my most favorite things is to create with my children. They remind me of how fun it is to just get my hands dirty and play. Our creations don’t have to be perfect, just fun. I also cherish the memories we make as we work side by side. It’s a special time when I can instill in them a love for working with their hands and teach them something new. In the process, I learn much more than I could ever teach them.

Creating for them is a joy as well. It makes me smile, when my oldest thinks I can “just make” anything for him. Of course my talent struggles to match his imagination sometimes, and sooner or later he’s going to figure out my limitations. For now though, I am enjoying being the sewing super hero he thinks I am.

Here are just a couple of my favorite projects that I’ve made with or for my kids.

Personalized Note Pads :: Kid Art Shirts :: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie inspired overalls :: Dry Erase Clock :: Lil’ Mister Bow Tie :: Frankenstein Hat

Of course, not everything I create is for or with them. Balancing time to create for myself and time with my kids can be tricky, especially now that I’ve turned my creative passions into a part-time job with my blog. I give my best effort to make sure my children’s needs and wants come first, but I also allow myself some time everyday to create around them. I do this in hopes that I’m planting the seeds of creative expression in them through my example. I want our house to be a home flowing with creativity as much as possible.

As the name of my blog implies. I create. It’s what makes me happy, it’s what I do, it’s who I am. And I have my children to thank for allowing creativity to blossom in my life.


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Book: Hand in Hand

by Admin on 03/06/2012

in Books, Kids Crafts

Jenny Doh is head of crescendoh and a lover of art. She is here today introducing her latest book: Hand in Hand: Crafting with Kids.

When someone asks me what the key is to being a good parent, I always say “creativity”. Parents know this truth universally because we’ve all been there … whether it’s the challenge of managing our children through sickness, tantrums, boredom, or rebellion, the answer lies in our ability to sing to them, play make-believe with them, paint with them, cook with them, color with them … and show them gently and quietly that they are capable of creating beauty and calm.

Jenny Doh with her children

It’s easier said than done, though. To enlist creativity rather than other shortcuts to managing our kids day in and day out takes patience, commitment, and imagination.

Hand in Hand is a book that features 20 amazing mommy bloggers who share their unique stories about parenting … stories that underscore the importance of engaging with our children through creativity. They also offer instruction on their favorite tried and true child-friendly craft projects that are fun, and designed for success to be had by all family members. It is a book with a message and projects that will remain evergreen … as long as kids are kids and parents are parents.

Many thanks to the contributing artists and parents of Hand in Hand as follows:

Jackie Boucher :: weelife :: Samantha Cotterill :: Mummy Sam :: Jenny Doh :: Crescendoh :: Maya Donenfeld :: maya*made :: Ali Edwards :: AE Blog :: Rachel Faucett :: Handmade Charlotte :: Pam Garrison :: Pam Garrison :: Abby Glassenberg :: While She Naps :: Cindy Hopper :: Skip to my Lou :: Beki Lambert :: Artsy-Crafty Babe :: Merrilee Liddiard :: mer mag
:: Jhoanna Monte :: One Red Robin :: Jessica Okui :: Zakka Life :: Ella Pedersen :: Little Red Caboose :: Carly Schwerdt :: Nest Studio :: Amanda Blake Soule :: soule mama :: Nicole Spring :: Frontier Dreams :: Jean Van’t Hul :: The Artful Parent :: Dana Willard :: MADE :: Kristin Zecchinelli :: Maine Momma


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Maggie Brereton is the momma behind the blog, Smashed Peas and Carrots, where she shares sewing and craft DIY tutorials, plus family friendly recipes and birthday parties too. Based out of Chicago, IL she also sells her handmade children’s clothing and momma’s accessories at her shop, Smashed Peas and Carrots, on Etsy.

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be here at Whip Up today to talk about how parenting has changed why I create.

I was lucky to grow up with a mom who loved to bake, cook, and sew clothing and dolls for my sisters and I and a dad who loved home improvement, landscaping, leather and woodwork. I feel like I have been a DIYer my whole life. I grew up loving to make things for myself and others. It’s just what I did…and we did in my family. In the past creating was always a way to put my personal spin on something instead of buying it in a store or off the rack. Being a DIYer is a great way to save money and pinch pennies too, especially during my college years! But then 5 years ago I had my first child, my son Noah. Less than 2 years later came my daughter Penelope and less than 2 years again came Eloise. Now I am awaiting the birth of our fourth child due at the end of June…life has been crazy fun these last 5 years to say the least! Once I had my own children, I felt an urge to make special things for them to wear and own, and so, the focus of my creativity became what I could do and make for them.

When I had Noah, my momma would (and still does to this day!) send packages of neatly boxed clothing from my childhood. The ones that especially touched me were the packages she had sent that were filled with the stuffed dolls she made for me when I was young and the hand knit sweaters, blankets, and dresses that my grandmother had made and sent to me when I was their age! There is something about the thought of my children handing down heirlooms I have created for them to their children, it is just so inspiring to me that I decided to ask for a sewing machine for my birthday 3 years ago and teach myself how to sew!

Parenting has changed how I create because it has given me a 3 (soon to be 4) sweet and adorable muses that inspire me daily. One thing I have really come to love is making clothing for my kids which I had never ever attempted before having children. I made their Halloween costumes this past year which was so fun because I had the chance to coordinate them based off of Noah’s love for Super Mario. I am lucky enough to have all three of my children asking and at times pleading with me to make them costumes, bags, baby diapers, and pretty dresses to twirl in. The excitement they show at seeing the finished product makes me want to continue making more and more beautiful things for them.

One of the most amazing things about how parenting has changed my creative vision is that I now have my own small business, called Smashed Peas and Carrots, where I sell my handmade children’s clothing. I never saw myself owning my own clothing company or even making children’s clothing but that is the funny thing about how kids can change you. I have found that I just love creating pretty dresses that little girls can play and dance in especially since my two girls love running around and causing mayhem with their big brother. Even starting my DIY craft blog, Smashed Peas and Carrots, wouldn’t have happened had it not been for my children and my desire to have a sort of online diary for them to read and learn a little bit more about their momma when they are older as well as share my what is important to our family there. I think parenting changes all of us in so many ways and I am lucky to have had parenting enhance my creative mind and open up a door to the small business world where I can share my talents with others.


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Jo Ebisujima, otherwise known as jojoebi (jo-jo-eh-bee) is a British designer living and working in Saitama, Japan. She creates fun and educational products for kids and sells sewing patterns so you can create them yourself.

I have always been interested in creating for children. My degree was in Electronic Imaging and my final two projects for my thesis was to design and make a CD-ROM (yeah, it was a long time ago) for children with special needs and to write, film and produce an educational TV program. Then much of the time between graduating and having my son was spent teaching children.

When my son, Ebi-kun, was born I became interested in Montessori, the more I read about it the more I fell in love with it and I ended up doing a course so that I could learn more and equip me to teach Ebi-kun. As he grew I started making things for him, Montessori equipment that I couldn’t afford to buy such as the sandpaper letters and sound pouches, along with toys and useful items to help him become more independent.

Around the same time I got myself a sewing machine with the intention of making curtains for the new house, I never did get round to making the curtains but I did re-discover my love of sewing. I started off just making simple clothes and toys, I came across the Black Apple doll pattern one day and got hooked and things just grew from there. Friends started asking me to make things for them and one suggested selling my goods online, I soon discovered Etsy and set myself up a shop and I have built the business up slowly from there.

My son and his interests inspire me a lot and several of the projects I have worked on in the last couple of years have come from direct needs or requests from him. In Japan we have to make a pile of bags of specific sizes for kindergarten, Ebi-kun was very much into knights and dragons and asked for knight fabric for his bags. Now, Japan has a lot of great fabric but knights and dragons are not a common theme so this led me into the world of fabric design, Spoonflower had not long being launched, they saved the day, as I was able to print off my designs and make the bags. This year he started school and loves the fabric so much he requested his new school bags be made with it too.

Another design that grew from a need was the Steggie Back Pack, he had a kindergarten trip coming up and needed a backpack to carry his lunch and mat in, of course he didn’t have one and I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make! This time there was no actual request just a need for a backpack, dinosaurs are also a big favourite so after a few rough sketches I put together his bag. I like to think it was my perfect pattern making skills which meant that it all came together first time but I have a sneaky feeling it was more down to good luck. Seeing his eyes light up the first time he sets eyes on something new that I have made for him makes it all worth while. I hadn’t planned to make it into a sewing pattern but we got such a good reaction to it from friends and strangers, he was the envy of the kindy outing and it was a real confidence boost for me too. So I set to it and drew up the pattern properly.

I really enjoy the process of coming up with something new, working out how to make it and then bringing it all together. We often have creative time together, crafting or painting side by side sometimes we will work with the same medium but go off in our on direction other times I will be sewing and he will be building something out of cardboard boxes, creating in the same space but on our own. This is mirrored in our work room, at one end is my studio space and the other end, his Montessori shelves, the room evolved like this and works for both of us.

I would say a good chunk of my inspiration comes from my son, his endless stream of questions or his crazy stories he tells me as we cook dinner together and I get an equal dose of inspiration from living in Japan, a culture far from my own. I feel like everyday I am learning something new, remembering to see the world through a child’s eyes and pushing adult sensibilities out of the way are important parts of my creative process too. I also love to watch children play and interact, notice the similarities and differences such as kids here make rice balls out of mud not mud pies. Also, the online community is a resource I can’t live without. The Crafty Crow and Pinterest are great for coming up with new project ideas, often one idea found there will spark a whole new project and off we go again on another adventure.



For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website