With the days officially getting shorter, and the occasional cool morning breeze, there is no doubt that school is just around the corner. For some parents, this is an exciting time. After three long months of constant bickering, cooking, cleaning, and general annoyance, those delightful little children are FINALLY going to be out of your hair for a few hours a day. For parents that have decided to homeschool for one reason or another, it can be much more stressful.
On top of of acquiring supplies and shopping for clothes that will fit your kids (because they grow like weeds), you also have to determine their curriculum, organize daily meals, coordinate safe social activities, and much much more. While we can’t help much with the standard subjects like math, science, and history, we know that the creative arts are just as important to a growing mind.
This week, we are bringing you back to school crafts for children all the way from preschool up through graduation. These projects will help to break up the monotony of general studies and help them to develop their creativity and imagination. So, without further delay, let’s get to the crafts!
Preschoolers (3-5 years old)
Very young children are learning how to do so much at this early stage of life. They’re just starting to get a handle on things like using crayons, and recognizing the alphabet. The big personalities they are developing can also have big feelings and tempers, too. To help them stay calm, clay and homemade play dough is a fun and creative way to play while also allowing your child some stress relief as they press and knead their dough. The great thing about homemade play dough is that it's very cost effective, and you can create any one of a rainbow of colors.
You will need
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup water
1/3 cup salt
- 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
2 tsp Cream of tartar
Gel food coloring (any food coloring will work, but we’ve found that gel food dye creates brighter, more vibrant colors.)
- Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.
- Add 8-12 drops of desired food coloring. (This can be added at the end, but it’s less messy to do it beforehand.)
- Place pan on stove on medium high heat and stir frequently.
- As dough begins to set and become lumpy, begin stirring constantly.
- Continue stirring until dough holds together as a single lump that you can hold with a spoon. Note: We’ve found it’s better to overcook the dough a bit as undercooking can leave it feeling very oily. A good indicator, if you're using gel food coloring, is that the dough will take on a darker, richer tint when it is done.
- Place the dough on wax or parchment paper and allow it to cool for at least 5-10 minutes.
- Once it has cooled to the touch, knead the dough with your hands to work out any lumps and store in plastic bags.
Young Children (6-8 years old)
According to the CDC, children in this age group are becoming more skilled at describing experiences and articulating their thoughts and feelings. You can teach them to use these thoughts and feeling to tell stories using words and pictures. While you can purchase blank, hardcover books and notebooks for them to write in, you can also create your own custom booklets!
You will need
- Put 4-6 sheets of printer paper in a stack and place one sheet of card stock on top. (You can use whatever color of card stock you prefer, but this will be the book cover,. As such, we recommend using either your child's favorite color, or plain white, so that they can decorate and/or illustrate the cover, as well.)
- Fold the stack in half to create a small booklet (with the card stock cover on the outside).
- Open the booklet back up (card stock side up) and staple all the pieces together along the crease (3-4 staples should be sufficient).
- Fold it back in half and you now have your blank story book!
- Use a ruler and pencil to lightly draw lines on the bottom half of all the pages.
- Now let you child write their own story in the booklet and create illustrations above to go along with the text.
Children (9-11 years old)
As social bonds with friends become stronger and more complex with each year, so does peer pressure. Children at this age are starting to feel a need to belong and keep up with their friends. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to poor choices in an effort to fit in.
One way that art can help your child avoid some of these pitfalls is to make sure that they have a positive self esteem. You can help make them mindful and aware of their good traits outside of their social circle. This project will help you guide your child in creating a self portrait that promotes positive self esteem and develop the confidence to withstand peer pressure.
You will need
Drawing and coloring supplies (pencils, markers, paints, crayons, etc)
Additional decorative art supplies (glitter, yarn, pom poms, glue, etc)
A print out coloring template (optional)
- Have your child draw a self portrait using whatever art supplies and decorations they like. (If the have trouble drawing, use a simple body template for them to color and decorate.)
- Have them use additional supplies to give the drawing a 3D element, like gluing on strands of yarn for hair.
- Once they have finished the portrait, let them create written labels on the page that describe some of their good traits. (For instance, they could draw a heart and write “always kind to others.”)
Preteens (12-14 years old)
By this point, children have developed very strong bonds with their closest friends and classmates. A great way to commemorate these special relationships is gifting friendship bracelets. Making these momentos is a great activity for your preteen to do with their friends. But why make simple, beaded bracelets, when they can make unique, and vibrant paracord charm bracelets?
You will need
Paracord in a variety of fun colors
Small plastic buckles (one for each bracelet)
Metal charms and pony beads (optional)
- Let your child and their friends choose their cord and buckle colors.
- Cut a strand of paracord about 3-4 feet long.
- Fold the paracord in half, thread the loop through one side of the plastic buckle, pull the two tails through the loop, and pull everything taught.
- Take the two tails hanging from thar half of the buckle and thread them through the other piece of the plastic buckle.
- Unhook the buckle and space the two halve about 7 inches apart (further if you need a larger/looser fitting bracelet).
- Cross the left tail over the two strands in the middle and leave enough slack to create a loop to the left.
- Place the right tail over the piece of the left tail sticking out to the side (the left and right strand should now look a bit like the number "4").
- Cross the right tail under the two strands in the middle and pull it up through the open loop created by the left tail.
- Pull strands outward until they form a semi-tight knot.
- Repeat these steps with the strand on the right going over the top for the second knot.
- Continue alternating sides with each knot until you reach the end of the two strands (and meet the other side of the buckle).
- Tie the strand together on what will be the underside of the bracelet (the part touching your wrist), use glue to fasten, and trim extra strands.
The knot described here is known as the cobra stitch, Solomons bar, and the Portuguese sinner. If you have trouble following along with our instructions, check out this video tutorial to get a visual of the process.
Your kids can also add charms and beads throughout the process to create fun, and stylish effects!
Teenagers (15-18 years old)
One of the most visited places in your child’s school (aside from maybe the cafeteria) is probably their locker. It’s where they store their books, snacks for between classes, and little momentos and knick knacks.
A great way to help them personalize their locker before heading back to school is with custom painted magnets. The Pinwheel Crafts Fun Fridge Magnet kit comes with everything your high schooler needs to make their own, one of a kind diy locker decorations. Let them add their own personal touch with things like clipping from photos, movie tickets, and more.
Hopefully these projects will help get your kids excited to get back into a learning environment. We know it's always hard for kids to see their summer break end, but with a little creativity and ingenuity, you can help bring a smile to their face with the power of arts and crafts.