7 Inexpensive Crafts You Can Do with the Kids This Summer

Refrains of Alice Cooper’s “School’s out for the Summer” might be running through your child’s head once the bell rang for the final time, but as a parent, you were more likely wondering how you were going to keep that child occupied for more than two months.

Amid summer camps, pool time, and family vacations, schedule some creative time to concoct summertime crafts — it not only helps pass the time in a fun way, it keeps their minds engaged during a time when it’s all too easy to watch TV and play video games. These summer crafts don’t have to be expensive — look around your home or in nature to find supplies whenever possible.

School Supply Crafts

If your children came home with unused school supplies, such as pencils or colored pencils, put them to good use! Using a hot glue gun — keep a close eye on youngsters or handle this portion of the project yourself — attach colorful pencils to a lightweight vase or metal canister. Make sure all the pencils are sharpened or cut to the same length for a uniform look. For a funkier look, attach the pencils on a slight diagonal, meaning each pencil is tilted slightly. Tie a brightly colored ribbon around the pencils and fill the vase with your favorite flowers. This could also be an end-of-summer craft, as you can take advantage of the school supply sales at big-box retailers.

If you have a leftover stack of magazines, school flyers, or other graphic publications, take advantage of the pre-made graphics and turn them into fun collages. This activity can differ based on the age of your child. Turn it into a learning activity for preschoolers by giving them safety scissors and glue sticks and instructing them to cut out certain things, such as body parts or geometric shapes. You could also ask them to cut out any object they can’t identify. However, for older kids, let their creativity run free — they can cut out and create a collage of anything they please.

Seashell Crafts

Whether you’re on a beach vacation or pick up some inexpensive seashells in a craft store or gift shop, turn those shells into artwork. A hermit crab shell — which can be purchased sans hermit crab at pet stores — can become a fun art project with some acrylic paint and a small paintbrush. Simply hand the supplies to your child and let them go to town. If you’re in the market for an inexpensive, easy-to-handle pet, place the shell in the tank with your hermit crab and monitor to see if the crab chooses to “move into” the decorated shell. Evidence shows that crabs are drawn to brightly colored shells, so the bolder, the better!

However, if you’d rather stick to non-animal crafts, make a wind chime out of the seashells. Gather a long stick — at least six to eight inches — along with your chosen seashells and cotton strings of varying lengths. Help your child out by being in charge of making holes in the seashells. Simply use a screwdriver and drive the point into the shell by using a twisting motion. Don’t apply too much pressure, or the shell can break — you might want to have a few extra shells handy in case this happens. When the hole is created, let your child string the shell and attach it to the stick. The child can also decorate the shells, if they desire. Attach a string to the top of the stick and hang it outside so you can enjoy seeing and hearing the breeze gently move the shells.

Holiday Crafts

The Fourth of July is the summer’s big holiday, and while it’s already over, there are some great crafts that you can hold onto for next summer.

Create a brightly colored game that the whole family can play at the Independence Day barbecue. Rinse out six old metal cans, such as soup or vegetable cans, or for an easier game, metal coffee canisters. Using acrylic paint and decorate the cans in patriotic stars and stripes. Let the cans dry, and then stack them in a pyramid shape. Using small beanbags, try to knock the cans down. An alternative game includes shaping the cans in one layer in a pyramid shape and attempting to toss the bean bags into the cans. Once the game is over, you can use the cans as vases for flowers.

Kids can also accessorize their Fourth of July outfits by creating red, white and blue bracelets. Pick up brightly colored yarn at the craft store and teach your child how to create a basic braid. Add beads to the yarn for a more challenging craft. Once the picnic rolls around, your child will be excited to show off their handmade jewelry to their friends and family!

End-of-Summer Crafts

It seems hard to believe, but with the way time flies, school will be back in session before you know it. Reminiscence about the summer by making a vacation memory jar. Take a clear, clean, wide-mouth jar and fill it with souvenirs and pictures. Use acrylic paint or permanent marker to write the vacation destination on the front of the glass. Kids can rearrange the souvenirs over and over again, reliving the family vacation each time they do.

Filling the summer with colorful, creative crafts doesn’t have to be terribly time-consuming or overly expensive. When the school year begins, your child will be eager to tell their friends about all the fun projects they created while classes were out of session.

Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer and editor with a degree in journalism and a love of art projects. She writes about both creative topics such as scrapbooking and small-business tactics like physician recruiting.

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