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No boredom this year! 20 creative summer crafts/activities for kids

Most children spend the last part of their school year dreaming of summer vacation, but after the first few weeks of break, it’s not uncommon for them to get stir-crazy or even (gasp!) bored. Keep their spirits high, their hands busy, and their minds engaged with these creative activities for all ages that will provide hours of fun all summer long. – Joanne Roehm

  • Summer Journaling

    Give your children blank journals or notebooks and have them personalize the cover. Set aside fifteen minutes each day as journaling time and have them write about their day. Encourage them to collect tickets, trinkets, and other memorabilia from their summer outings and paste them in their journal. Your children and you will love looking back at your summer activities from the child’s perspective.

  • Refrigerator Box House

    Turn a large appliance box into a playhouse to use indoors or out (don’t have one? Ask at your local appliance store). Work with your children to paint it and cut out windows and doors, then let them add details like siding, bricks, and roof tiles with black sharpie markers. Use fabric scraps for curtains and pieces of cardboard to create a welcome mat and chimney. Challenge older kids to make their houses as realistic-looking as possible, and let them continue to add details as the summer progresses.

  • Nature Walk and Collage

    Take a nature walk with your children, either in your backyard, neighborhood, or at the local park or trails. Ask children to collect leaves, twigs, flowers, and more. Come back home and put them all together to form a nature collage.

  • Paper Bag Puppet Theatre

    Create a stage by using a table with a sheet over it, an oversized cardboard box, or something similar. Give children brown paper bags and a variety of markers, crayons, and embellishments (such as yarn, sparkles, etc.). Allow children to draw faces on their bags and embellish the faces to create puppet people and animals. Have children invent their own play and put on a performance for family and friends.

  • Spray Bottle Art

    Set up a large “canvas” in the backyard. Use an old white sheet or long strip of paper from a paper roll (purchased from your local craft store) and weight it down in each corner. Fill plastic spray bottles with water mixed with tempera paint and allow children to spray their oversized canvas to create one huge (and slightly messy!) outdoor masterpiece.

  • Make Your Own Play Doh

    A wonderful rainy day activity! Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of water, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tsp cream of tartar, and a few drops of food coloring in a large pan over low heat. Stir until combined and allow to cool. Mold and enjoy!

  • Custom Tee Shirts

    Give children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to sketch a design for a tee shirt. Slide a piece of heavyweight cardboard into a plain white tee shirt (available in multi-packs from your local dollar store or mega mart) and have children copy their designs from their paper onto their tee shirts, first in pencil, and then with permanent markers. Have children put on a fashion show for friends and family, modeling their new tee shirt designs!

  • Stationery Design

    Dress up plain white paper into custom stationery. Guide children in using markers, crayons, stamps, inkpads, and more to create designs on the top and bottom of white sheets of paper. Decorate plain white envelopes to match.

  • Family Newspaper

    Talk to your children about newspapers and magazines and show them examples. Ask older children to create their own family newspaper featuring stories, advertisements, cartoons, and more. Newspapers can be written, feature pictures, or both. You’ll be surprised at the day-to-day family events that your children will turn into newsworthy articles!

  • Growing Things

    Give your children the opportunity to watch Mother Nature work by giving them a small plot in the garden (or a dirt-filled container or pot) as their very own. Let them choose from a selection of seeds to grow and help them plant them. Teach your children responsibility by allowing them to water and weed their garden daily and watch their amazement and pride as their seeds grow into plants.

  • Pen Pals

    A pen pal doesn’t have to be long distance. Match family members or neighborhood children together as pen pals for the summer. Encourage children to write about their daily activities and send notes to their pen pals as often as they like. Children can use their personalized stationery (see above) to write their letters on!

  • Teachers

    If you have a group of children of mixed ages, let the older children plan and teach an activity to the younger ones. Give the older children a selection of art or craft materials and ask them to come up with a project to teach. You’ll be surprised how seriously the older children take the responsibility of designing a project of their own, and the little ones who already look up to the big kids will enjoy working on a project with them.

  • Rainy Day Box

    Not every summer day is perfect outdoor-play weather. Put together a box of indoor toys, games, and activities that only comes out on rainy days. Coloring and puzzle books, card games, and special art supplies will lift everyone’s spirits. Be sure to keep the box hidden from sight, and update it after each use. Rainy day box toys stay in the rainy day box so that they are a special treat that’s out of the ordinary on grey days.

  • Bug Hotel

    Poke holes in the lid of a jar, plastic container, or shoebox and allow children to decorate the outside. Have children collect grass, sticks, leaves, and more to fill the box then lead them in a bug hunt. Catch bugs and let them stay (temporarily!) in the “bug hotels” the children have created. Children can take photos, draw pictures, or write about the bugs they find.

  • Paint with Water

    Little ones love to paint. Fill small buckets with water and give your children oversized paintbrushes to “paint” with. Show your children that they can “paint” designs with the water on the sidewalk, in the driveway, or on the patio, and watch their wonder as after a few minutes of sunshine, their “paintings” dry and disappear.

  • Homemade Popsicles

    Fill ice cube trays with fruit juice and put them in the freezer. Insert popsicle sticks (available at craft and grocery stores) once the ice cubes are almost frozen but still slushy. Put them back in the freezer until they’re completely frozen. Allow your children to combine fruit juices to create their own colors and flavors, and see who comes up with the tastiest frozen treat!

  • Pressed Flower Greeting Cards

    Gather wildflowers with your children and use them to create beautiful stationery. Lay flowers flat between two sheets of white paper and sandwich them between heavy books. Check the flowers once a week until they are completely dry (you may need to carefully replace the sheets of paper as moisture is released from the flowers). Once dry, carefully glue them to note-cards, and hand-write a greeting on each.

  • Cupcake Creations

    Bake a batch of cupcakes (box mix is fine) and allow them to cool. Mix frosting in a variety of colors. Take the cupcakes outside and set up a covered table with the frostings and a variety of sprinkles and toppings. Let your children decorate the cupcakes however they wish and be sure to have the hose handy to clean up the table (and the kids!) when the cupcakes are finished.

  • Make Lemonade

    Set your children to work squeezing lemons to make their own lemonade! Combine one cup of the lemon juice with one cup of sugar, one cup of water, and lots of ice in a pitcher and let thirsty kids gulp it down!

  • Treasure Hunt

    This works great to plan ahead of time if your child is having a group of friends over or a birthday party. Designate what the treasure will be (a small box of prizes from the dollar store would work great) and help your child to hide it outside. Once hidden, work with your child to draw a map to the treasure on a white sheet of paper using black sharpie marker. Carefully pour black coffee into a lidded baking sheet and soak the map until it turns brown. Allow to dry, then crumple and tear the map to create an “aged” look. Roll the map up and tie with ribbon, then present to party guests and send them out to find the treasure!

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