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

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 whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Lorraine is a retired Physics teacher, married to a software engineer, and mother of three girls Emily (7), Jenna (5) and Kate(4). She blogs at ikatbag, where she shares sewing and cardboard projects. She lives in St Paul, Minnesota (USA).

Thank you, Kathreen, for letting me be a part of your wonderful blog for a day!

I am continually amazed at how much a parent’s world is centered around their children – naps, bedtimes, dietary limitations, entertainment and their unbelievable energy. My three girls have left me wiped out on the sofa on too many days to count, but they have also pulled me into physical, mental, emotional and artistic spaces that leave me breathless and inspired. They have the best ideas, an almost-ludicrous disregard for the word “impossible” and a delicious capacity for more learning, more exploring, more creating. More mess, too, but it is a fact that small people bulldozing their way through life’s adventures will often leave a trail behind them.

I grew up in Singapore. My own parents love the creative process – Dad taught primary school Art, English, Mathematics and Science, painted, did a lot of carpentry and sewed leather accessories for whichever sport held his interest at the time. Now retired, he continues his art in custom-made archery bow cases. Mum is a homemaker, seamstress and extraordinary cook. Grandma was a tailor and most of the other women in the family dabble in some kind of fabric art.

I grew up understanding that anything could be made with a roll of Scotch tape and cardboard. I made my own toys, devoured craft books and yearned for the craft resources unavailable to me then. I learned to improvise, adapt and veer off the beaten path. Along the way, I also discovered that I enjoyed doing things differently, trying methods other people wouldn’t and accomplishing projects everyone said were hard. Blessed to be in an environment of available resources and help, I learned to hand-stitch at about 9 and use the sewing machine at about 13. Mum taught me to draft and sew and I made clothes and bags all through my teen and young adult years. Both my parents were incredibly tolerant of mess and the disorganized madness that comes with creative inspiration. I suspect this was because they were themselves creative people, but me being occupied by creative pursuits also meant I was keeping out of their hair so they could do their own crafty stuff. It was a perfect arrangement.

Fast forward several decades and, adulthood inexplicably snuck up on me in the form of a career and marriage. I was a junior college Physics teacher and, later, an education and crisis counsellor. I loved my work but not how it left me little time to create. Then my girls were born and I retired to be a full-time mother. I was supposed to have all the time in the world at last but it would be a few years before I’d actually feel it. It seemed I could hardly wait for my babies to be old enough to create with me and now that they finally are, oh, we have so much fun! We work with cardboard, sometimes together and sometimes individually on secret projects.

I draft and sew clothes and costumes (see first image of Kate in a pink Halloween gown) and invent toys. I’ve made fabric playhouses, egg-laying chickens, lactating pigs, dolls with bandages and foam dirt in which to plant felt flowers. These all came from watching my girls at play. I could never have imagined them on my own.

I am grateful for the place I am now – staying home with and enjoying my kids. Some  days we are crafting maniacs. Some days we make nothing. Most days we are in between. And for those days when we aren’t inventing new crafts, we love the kits we can buy in stores, designed by other people, and with little colorful bits packed in ready-to-play boxes.

There is always so much to balance in a single day, just in the area of crafting and creating alone. Some questions that run through my mind as I am working with my kids include: How much do I create with them? How much do I let them create on their own? How much inspiration, ideas or suggestions do I plant in their little eager minds? When should I step in to protect, nudge forward, redirect? How much should we involve books? Blogs? The internet? How much should I teach? How much can they learn? And, most importantly, how do I inspire them so they keep learning, continue creating, and are excited about helping others do the same?

It runs both ways, this stream of inspiration that drives us to create and invent.

I am not always directing; I am also hungry for the learning to happen through other sources. I pore over the artwork my girls bring home from school – I love the techniques that are new to me, their teachers’ ideas, and watching the development of their different artistic styles – Emily is minimalist and 3D, Jenna is assiduous and colorful, Kate loves making sets of tiny masterpieces. I make them teach me how to paint with watercolours, make spinners out of paperclips, how to sprinkle coffee grounds on sticky pictures to make fragrant grizzle bears.

I started my craft blog to share our projects and pass on the skills I learned from my parents. Occasionally, I will sew something for myself when I need a break from the manic flow of child-centered ideas and projects. Such is the irony of parenting – I want to make all these creative things for my children, but I will only have the time to do it when they’re no longer young enough to be enthralled by them. There are not enough hours in a day, or years in their childhood to realize all the ideas that come from the books we read, the stores we patronize, the catalogs we browse. Or even simply watching them play. So in the short time I have, I must pick what to make, and what to save as sketches in my notebooks. Perhaps some will be a grandmother’s project years down the road. Perhaps some will be published for someone else’s kids to enjoy. And perhaps some will be saved just as they are, to be shown to my girls when they are grown, to remind them of the different ways their mother loved them when they were little.

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

Are you on Spring break? Autumn school holidays? Yet? We have just started 2 weeks of school break and don’t have any particular plans. Going to just take it one day at a time. 

I printed out a copy of our Action Pack Magazines so that we have them on hand – the kids love to access these and just get creative whenever the mood strikes. It can be annoying for them and me if they have to wait for me to organise their activities for them. Letting them be creatively independent is so freeing for us all!

Here are ten things we will be doing these holidays:

  1. Bake a cake + probably some cookies too :: Download the recipe to make the Lavender and Lime Poppyseed Cake recipe. {From issue 2 of Action Pack magazine for kids}
  2. Go for a long family bike ride and picnic.
  3. Visit the Art Gallery or maybe the museum.
  4. Do a science experiment together :: Download the instructions to make a teabag rocket. {From issue 3 of the Action Pack. – or grab a copy of the Science edition of Action Pack}
  5. Get the craft box out and make something with recycled materials.
  6. Go to the park and play a game of soccer.
  7. Use the sidewalk chalk to draw on the pavement and play some sidewalk games. {Great chalk ideas in the Chalk + Cheese edition of Action Pack}
  8. Go for a walk in the mountains and make some ephemeral art {some great ideas in the Sticks + Stones edition of Action Pack}
  9. Make some origami boats and sail them in a stream ::  Download instructions to make a wax coated origami boat. {From issue 1 of the Action Pack}.
  10. Getting into the garden and doing some planting and pruning. {Some great ideas in the Seeds + Beads edition of Action Pack}

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

Vicki Smith has created unique pastel illustrations for a wide variety of clients in the publishing and corporate arena including posters, menus, book covers, annual reports and magazine art. Her storybook images are used to create the handmade books, toys and prints that she sells online. She finds that her teaching of children informs her own art and her art informs her philosophy of teaching. Today Vicki is discussing how (and why) she teaches art to kids. She blogs at Art with Kids.

As a child I illustrated my first ‘book’ in the fourth grade about a troupe of dancing mice, so it is no wonder that I went off to art school and a career as an illustrator. Now that I have the privilege of teaching art part-time at a Montessori school I make it my mission to bring the children tactile projects that are stimulating and broaden their perspective of what constitutes art.

Making art incorporates principles of math and science, gives children permission to get messy, and teaches the invaluable lesson that you should make your own choices as opposed to merely copying what “Susie” is painting at the easel next to you.  The tactile experience is important for children to feel connected to what they are creating, and to learn how materials behave when handled. Here are some ideas:

Paper making using old newspapers is great fun and an activity that recently kept ten preschoolers occupied for an entire hour! Playing in water is certainly very tactile and this activity does not require much equipment. The children love being involved in all the steps of the process while squealing over how “gross” the pulp looks and feels.

  • I fill a plastic basin about half way with warm water (I use the container we put the newspaper in for recycling). This project also requires a small picture frame with window screen stapled to it, sheets of felt cut to the size of the opening in the frame, and an old blender. It’s important to use an old blender as it will never be completely clean again.
  • Fill the blender about half way with the water from your basin, add torn sheets of newspaper, and start pressing the buttons on the blender. Then dump the mixture into the basin.
  • Repeat this process until you are able to lower the frame into the basin and a layer of grey pulp covers the screen.
  • After this, let the kids lay a sheet of felt on top of the pulp and press the excess water out with their palms. When it’s dry the felt can be peeled away and let dry in the sun, leaving beautiful paper to be written or drawn upon.

Crafting assemblages inspired by the work of sculptor Louise Nevelson is a way of appreciating art that is nontraditional.

  • I gather household items such as large buttons, wing nuts, old keys, empty spools of thread, clothes pins… etc and start the lesson by playing a game that involves only the sense of touch.
  • I place one of each of the items in a paper bag.  The children take turns reaching into the bag with their eyes closed and try to identify the item by feel.
  • After the game they gather the items that they find interesting and glue them down onto a piece of corrugated cardboard. We talk about the different ways that they might consider arranging their objects.
  • I spray paint the assemblages and they resemble the monochromatic work of Nevelson. Without color the art is now all about the shapes.

Using scratch foam or Styrofoam sheets to create a printing plate is another project that has a strong tactile component.

  • The children press drawings into the Styrofoam sheet and apply printing ink to the foam with a brayer. The ink does not go into the depressed lines so that the drawing prints as the color of the paper.
  • The children love rolling the ink onto the foam plate with the brayer and being able to print multiple images.
  • Another positive aspect of this process is that changes can be made to the plate before making additional prints, and one can easily print on both fabric or paper.  The possibilities are endless.

These endless possibilities reminds me of the importance of allowing the children to stretch the limits of a project in different directions. When we make paper I encourage the children to suggest materials other than newspaper and as a result we have used colored tissue paper, thread, and dried leaves. When making their assemblages they may decide to stack items or glue them down on both sides of the cardboard creating more sculptural work. And instead of relying on pencils to press lines into the foam I encourage them to think of other tools that could be implemented. It’s about a tactile and fluid learning process as much as it is about having a finished product.

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

For the past 17 years Susan Schwake has run an independent art school where she works with people of all ages and abilities. For the past eight years the art school has been part of artstream gallery and design studio. She has recently written a book Art Lab for Kids (published by Quarry Books February 2012). She blogs at artesprit.

I was thrilled when Kath invited me to write a post about my new book: Art Lab for Kids  here on WhipUp.  Art Lab for Kids is a smattering of lessons which I chose from the past 18 years of teaching fine art to children and adults. It is my hope that Art Lab for Kids could be used by  parents, home schoolers, teachers, community groups, librarians, and any combination of people wanting to learn technique, be inspired and to express themselves in fine art.

At first it was difficult to narrow it down to just 52, but with the idea that someone might use the book as a year-long experience for teaching art to a child (or themselves) it became clear.  I wrote the lessons to be stand-alone projects – but arranged them in an order that they also would build upon skills as you go through the book. Each lesson includes inspiration from an established artist – some famous, some not so – to broaden the reader’s idea of, and to help then gain confidence in, their personal style and subject matter in 2D art.

One of my personal goals in teaching art is to build confidence and fearlessness in making it. Part of becoming fearless in making art is being prepared. The introduction and first chapter give the reader some ideas about making art with others, setting the stage for creativity and a comprehensive outline of setting up a studio. Having taught both children and adults in my own studio, in large community settings, public schools and in workshops one of the most important keys to success is being prepared – it puts everyone at ease. Each lesson is laid out with a “think first” section, then step by step photos and a separate materials list to help insure success. Organization counts!

The photo shoots were the most fun part of making the book. My husband, (a media designer extraordinaire, goofball and lover of all things child-like) was the photographer for the book. This choice was natural because not only is he a wonderful photographer, but he has a great knack of putting everyone at ease. We worked together setting the shots and styling for each lesson – including wrangling more than a few odd cords, oil pastels and interesting still life subjects – and reminding the kids that it was okay to smile, (making art is a serious business!), while working. There were more than a few giggle- fests which help to ease the slow process of shooting the steps.

The kids had a lot of fun making artwork for the shoots as well as the excitement of being in the book and the gallery exhibit of all their artwork with the artist’s work side by side this month at artstream I have been having fun offering workshops for children during book signings and at Plymouth State University for emerging art educators. You can follow along at my site or at facebook It’s my hope that people will use my book to discover their own passion for art.

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

Action Pack: Easter 2012 Edition – is Available now

20 pages of craft, science and cooking.

This is an e-magazine – you will receive a download link to a high quality printable pdf [which can be printed or viewed on your computer and on a Tablet or iPad].


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Welcome to the Easter Special Edition of Action Pack Magazine for kids.

In this issue there are seven Easter recipes,experiments and crafts. You’ll learn about different Easter traditions, you’ll bake, taste and experiment in the kitchen and you’ll get a little crafty too. Be prepared for mess, for fun and for lots of egg-speriments.

Kids in the kitchen

  • I firmly believe that kids can begin cooking as soon as they are interested. This process of giving them freedom in the kitchen will set them up for a lifetime of healthy homemade cooking and eating.
  • Before they are tall enough to use the stove top or reach the bench let them use a sturdy stool so they can help with cutting and stirring. Teach them to safely use and respect sharp knives and heat. Once they gain more confidence by helping you, they are ready to tackle some recipes on their own.
  • Let them cook a dish on their own, weighing and measuring ingredients for themselves. The recipes inside the Action Pack magazines are the perfect place to start. At first you could stay in the kitchen reading out the recipe to them or assisting them with organising, measuring and finding ingredients. But once you are confident of their capabilities, why not allow them the space and trust to try it out for themselves.

In this issue you will find

  • About: What does Easter mean? + Information for Parents about how to use Action Pack
  • Sweet things: Chocolate Easter Cookies + European Easter Cake
  • Snacks: Breakfast egg + toast + Hot Cross Easter Buns
  • Craft: Munch’em Egg Cosies + How to make a piping bag for icing
  • Science you can eat: Tea Eggs + Natural Dyed Eggs
How to make a piping bag

Action Pack: Easter 2012 Edition – is Available now only $4 for 20 pages of craft, science and cooking.

This is an e-magazine – you will receive a download link to a high quality printable pdf [which can be printed or viewed on your computer and on a Tablet or iPad].


Go to our shop

Instructions: After you have purchased the Action Pack you will receive an email with the link to where you can download the pdf. Save it onto your computer and then print out. It is a full colour 20+ page document – print the pages all at once or you need as you need them. For optimum quality choose ‘best quality’ when printing, especially for the pages with illustrations. However feel free to print it out in black and white too. Your PDF can also be saved and viewed onto your Tablet or iPad.

Important: The pdf magazine will be automatically delivered via e-mail as soon as your payment is received. The email address that it is sent to is the email connected to your paypal account. The e-mail you receive will include a link to download the file directly to your computer. Please note that the link will only allow you to access the file for a limited period, so please make sure to download and save the file on your own computer as soon as you receive it. Lost files may be replaced for a period of 30 days following purchase.

Contact for more information: Action-pack@whipup.net

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