Welcome back! This is the last segment in our “Your Children Are Out of School for the Summer…What Do You Do Now? Part 1-4” series. In the parts 1-3, we went over summer camps, reading programs, and fun family outings. Hope you have enjoyed the start of your summer adventures.
This week, is a little different than you might normally see posted. We are discussing lots of projects you can do with your children, or that they can make on their own this summer. They are fantastic boredom busters, and some make great gifts too!
First, I will let you know of places in the area where you can make free stuff to take home. Then we’ll talk about craft projects you can make at home.
- Bass Pro Shops “Free Family Workshops, Activities, & Crafts” – Check the web site for the crafts schedule. http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPageC?storeId=10151&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&appID=86326&template=workshops.cfm
- Lowe’s Free Kids Workshops – Saturdays, twice a month, 10:00-11:00AM. They recommend you register for the free class online. http://www.lowesbuildandgrow.com/
- Home Depot Kids Workshops – 9:00AM-12:00PM, on the first Saturday of each month. http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ContentView?pn=Kids_Workshops&langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053
- Michael’s “Passport to Fun” – Make crafts from many countries, 6/21-7/30 at 11:00AM-2:00PM. http://www.michaels.com/Passport-to-Fun/PTF,default,pg.html
Below are some ideas of things kids of all ages can create any time of the year, especially for summer.
- Wrapping paper – Save all of the plain shipping paper you receive, and have the kids draw on them. They can do all different occasions and holidays. The next time you need to wrap a present, wrap it in the personal paper. People love the personal touch, especially grandparents.
- Greeting Cards – Kids can design birthday, thank you, and holiday cards to have on hand when needed. You can either purchase blank cardstock already folded, or use construction paper. There isn’t a wrong way to make a heartfelt, personalized card! You will want to leave some room inside the card for a customized message.
- Summer Journals – This project is multipurpose. It encourages the kids to practice their writing skills while documenting their summer. You can use any kind of notebook and have your child personalize it, or you can purchase a pre-made journal. There are some cute, cheap summer journals ready to decorate that you can purchase for only $4.95 for the first one and $2.95 for each additional book. Price includes some summer themed stickers to get you started and shipping, so there aren’t any additional charges. The journal is over 20 pages, and includes the following pages: My school friends, How I want to spend my summer vacation, blank USA map, Interesting and fun facts and events that happened in June-August in past years, Blank calendars, lined writing pages with cute summer graphics, lots of Travel Games so the kids will want to take their journal with them on their adventures. If interested, send payment to B. Gardner, 5100 Eldorado Pkwy. #357, McKinney, TX, 75070, with your name, email and return address.
- Can Hugs, Visors, and Water Bottles – You can buy each of these items for around a $1 or less at craft and dollar stores. Since all of the mentioned items will get wet, make sure you decorate with permanent supplies.
- Frames – You can find wood, paper, and metal frames for $1 at craft and dollar stores, or make your own out of Popsicle sticks and such. If the frame is not too thin, you can decorate it with just about anything. One of my favorites to make is the toy/game theme. We all end up with various game pieces and small toys. Instead of throwing the games or toys away, glue them to the outside of the frame. You can recycle many items, such as shirts that can’t be worn anymore or resold, but have a cute print. Cut fabric into strips and wrap around the frame. There are endless possibilities that don’t cost anything because you already have them.
- Folders and Binders – Kids can decorate a folder or binder for each year, to store their mementos they have collected. Add a special touch by including a written story about each piece, and why it is important to them.
- Scrapbooks – If your child isn’t able or doesn’t want to make their own scrapbook, have each child design a page or two for the family scrapbook. The pages don’t have to be fancy. The important thing is that the pages reflect each person’s personality.
Refilling bird feeder – This container refills itself for a low maintenance project, and is better for slightly older kids who can handle a hot glue gun safely.
Supplies needed:(1) 20 oz. bottle, Strong scissors or X-Acto Knife, Old, lightweight shallow dish (or coaster with a lip) slightly larger in diameter than the bottle, Hot glue gun, Birdseed.
Remove the label and clean your bottle thoroughly. When clean, cut out the bumpy bottom of the bottle so you’re left with a clean cylinder and lid. When the bottom is removed, the remaining edge should be even enough that the bottle can still stand. Cut a hole an inch tall along the bottom edge that looks like the photo above. Next, make ½ inch vertical cuts all the way around the bottom of the bottle—about 6-8 cuts in all. This should give you flaps at the bottom of the bottle. Fold them in along the seams, so that they stay tucked under the bottom, including the flaps that line up on either side of the 1-inch hole (now shrinking it to a half-inch hole).
Next, take the hot glue gun and put a dot of hot glue on each of the tucked flaps. Place the bottle in the center of the dish, so that the glue-gunned flaps adhere to the surface of the dish. Hold in place until it adheres, then let stand for a few minutes to dry completely. When dry, pour birdseed into the bottle. It should begin to spill out of the hole, but the rest should stay put. Punch holes through the top of the bottle to string ribbon through, then hang from any location!
Pretzel bird feeders – This bird feeder is simple and more temporary, but a fun, quick project for little kids!
Supplies needed: 4 large pretzels, Peanut butter, Twine or ribbon, Birdseed.
Cover one side of the large pretzel with peanut butter. Pour birdseed into a shallow dish, and then dip the peanut butter side of the pretzel into it. Coat the other side the same way, then thread some twine or ribbon through the pretzel and hang from the trees outside. Easy!
Hanging bottle bird feeder – You can hang this bird feeder from almost anything! Just make sure it dangles far enough that the squirrels can’t easily get to it. If you want your young kids to get involved in the project, punch the holes before they start.
Supplies needed: 1 plastic bottle (a 2-liter, 1-liter, or 20 ounce bottle), permanent marker, X-Acto knife or awl, 2 old wooden spoons or kebab sticks, Twine or ribbon, Birdseed.
Remove the label on the bottle and thoroughly wash it out, making sure all soapy residue is gone. Then, about a third of the way up, mark 2 dots across from one another. Gently punch through the dots with an X-Acto knife or awl, and then slide a wooden spoon through the dots so that both sides of the spoon stick out from the bottle. Rotate the bottle 90 degrees, then make two similar dots just above the bottom of the bottle. Punch through with the X-Acto knife, and then insert another wooden spoon. They should now form an “x” inside the bottle.
Pour birdseed to fill the bottle until it covers the highest spoon. Make small cuts in the bottle just above the broad end of the spoons so that birdseed can fall into the spoon and continue falling as it’s eaten. Cap the lid, punch holes across from each other at the top, thread a long ribbon through, and tie it to the nearest tree or hang it from your porch.
Cheap and Easy 4th of July Crafts for Kids
Patriotic Plant Pot – If you happen to have some extra flowerpots lying around the house, then why not paint them red, white and blue to put outside your yard before the 4th of July holiday? All you need to do it paint the rim of the flowerpot with white paint, and then paint the lower section blue. Next, paint white stars over the blue section, red stripes over the white section, and then place them outside in your yard to help make your home look more festive.
Star Necklaces – Take some cardboard or used cereal boxes and cut out three different sizes of stars; (one large, one medium and one small). Next, paint the biggest star red, the second biggest star white, and the smallest star blue, and then glue the white star onto the biggest star, and then the smallest star onto the white star. Then punch a hole in the top of middle of the star and loop a string or yarn through the hole so your kids can wear it as a necklace.
Patriotic Bracelets – The next time you head out of the house to do some grocery shopping, purchase some extra boxes of Kraft Dinner so your kids can use them to create a 4th of July noodle bracelet or necklace. The most effective way to color the noodles is to place a handful of them into a plastic bowl or container, and then add one tablespoon of vinegar along with four to five drops of food coloring. (If you want your kids to help you with the coloring process then make sure they wear gloves so the food coloring doesn’t stain their hands). Once the noodles are colored then place them on a sheet of paper towel or used newspaper until they are complete dry, and then string them together using a string or a piece of yarn.
Starlight-Spangled Napkin Rings – Materials: Tape or glue, White poster board or heavy paper, Starlight mint candies, Double-sided tape, Blue napkins.
- Tape or glue a strip of white poster board or heavy paper (ours was 1 inch wide and about 7 inches long) into a ring.
- Fix a row of Starlight mint candies (in their wrappers) to the ring with double-sided tape.
- Stuff the ring with a blue napkin and one set of utensils.
Patri-botic Centerpiece – Materials: 2 cardboard tubes (toilet paper tubes, or wrapping paper tubes trimmed to about 5-1/2”), 1 roll each of red, white, and blue duct tape, Clear 1-gallon, food-safe plastic pail (we got ours from stampendous.com), 2 (15-ounce) unopened cans of food, with labels removed (for weight), Clean, empty metal can or plastic bucket (ours is a 12-ounce peanut can), Parchment paper (optional), 2 metal bottle caps.
- Wrap the cardboard tubes with red and white duct tape. Affix an arm to each side of the pail with a loop of tape.
- Wrap the bottom of the canned goods with red tape. (Tip: Write the contents on the top of each can so that you’ll know what’s in them.) Place loops of tape on their lids, then press the pail into place on top.
- To make the robot’s head, wrap the empty can or bucket with blue duct tape. Cut eyes from white duct tape and a mouth from red. (Tip: The eyes and mouth are easier to make if you first attach the duct tape to a piece of parchment paper. Cut out the shapes, then peel them off the parchment backing.) Attach the bottle caps to the white circles with loops of tape. Stack the head on top of the pail.
Twirlers – Materials:
- Plastic coffee can lids
To make one, use a nail to poke a hole in the center of a plastic coffee can lid. With a marker, draw a spiral that starts 3/8 inch from the hole and gradually extends to the rim, then cut along the line with scissors. Knot an end of a piece of string, thread the other end up through the hole in the center, and the twirler is ready to hang up and spin. Tips: To spin, grasp each one at the bottom, twirl it around and around until the string is wound tight, let go and enjoy the show.
Holiday T-Shirts – Instead of buying holiday t-shirts, we decorate our own. You can purchase inexpensive, solid colored shirts in all sizes at craft and drug stores, and large discount stores. Craft stores now carry fabric paints, pens, and crayons for easy, washable wear. Depending on how many shirts and art designs, the supplies usually go a long ways. For example, we have used the same supplies three years in a row and still have more uses available. If you are having trouble with what designs to do, there are free templates on the web you can download. Martha Stewart’s site is always a good place to start for ideas. Most of the time, my kids just do sparkly fireworks, stars, and a flag on their shirts. There aren’t any wrong ways to do it. The object is to have fun and make something unique. I recommend washing the shirts before applying your art.
These are just a few of the wonderful projects available. If you are still looking for ideas on things to do, check my “Today’s Life Skills” Facebook page, and please click on the “Like” button so you will be included in all of the helpful information. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Todays-Life-Skills/226929560653513. I often post discounts, specials, and useful tidbits.
Have a question? Or would like information on a certain situation? Looking for Life Skills classes for your children? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!
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