Sunday, September 18, 2011

Frugal Crafts for Kids

A turtle costume I made for my son.
Shell is made out of paper mache.
Ever try to think of creative projects you can do at home with your kids to entertain them, but don't want to spend a fortune on supplies? I've previously shared a recipe for making salt dough; here's some more crafts you can do with your kids to keep them entertained frugally.

Frugal Crafts For Kids

Bubbles. Make a homemade bubble solution by mixing 1/4 cup liquid dish washing detergent (grease-cutters are best), 3/4 cup water, and 1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup together in a container. Make a bubble wand out of a pipe cleaner and blow bubbles to your hearts content, making a game out of popping them, or by trying to catch as many bubbles as possible on wants or hands dipped in bubble mixture.
If your children are a bit older and may find standard bubble blowing “babyish”, try upping the ante by making large quantities of bubble mixture, pouring it in a wide, flat basin. Make a huge bubble wand out of old wire hangers and lay it inside the basin. Have a small child step into the basin inside the bubble wand, and have your children attempt to blow a gigantic bubble around their sibling! You can also make large bubbles out of circles of yarn dipped in bubble mixture. The possibilities are endless!

Chalk. Sidewalk chalk is fun entertainment for kids of all ages. Drawing pictures and playing hopscotch are just some of the many things to do with chalk. While chalk isn't very expensive, you can make even cheaper chalk by mixing 1 cup of plaster of Paris (bought in the hardware store; the same exact thing sold in craft supply stores is much more expensive) with ¾ cup of water and enough tempera paint to get it to be the color you want. Mix very quickly (it hardens in a heartbeat), then pour it into a wide, shallow, semi flexible container. (Silicon baking dishes and disposable aluminum pans work terrifically for this.) Allow to dry for approximately one hour, remove from the container, then score the large piece of chalk with a razor. Break the chalk into more manageable sized pieces and let dry at least 12 hours. Use to your hearts content the same way you'd use any chalk!
Alternatively, you can make sidewalk chalk paint by mixing ¼ cup corn starch, ¼ cup water, and 5-10 drops of food coloring. (Add a little water at a time to make it mix more easily.) Once made, paint with a brush onto any washable outdoor surface, like sidewalks, brick walls, and wooden fences.

Arts and Crafts. Instead of purchasing arts and crafts supples, try to see what free materials you can find to use for projects. Egg cartons, milk/juice cartons, Mylar bags (like empty metallic potato chip bags), bottle caps, toilet paper or paper towel rolls, cereal boxes, used twist ties, colorful shopping bags, and many other pieces of “garbage” can be used to make so many different types of projects- the possibilities are endless. Using glue, scissors, string, paint, and crayons, you can combine these to make different creative crafts. Depending on the age and ability of the child, either give them exact instructions, a general theme (robots, cars, miniature cities, bird feeders, flowers, animals, etc...) or just the freedom to use their noggin and come up with something out of their own imagination.
Going on a nature walk (even just around the neighborhood) and collecting sticks, leaves, pebbles, rocks, sand, dirt, acorns, pine cones, etc... gives you even more materials that you can use for your projects.

Paper Mache can be made by mixing flour, water, and a drop of glue. Dip thin strips of old newspaper in the glue and then use for a variety of projects, such as making pinatas, sculptures, or anything else your heart desires. (I made my son a turtle costume this year and made the shell of the costume entirely out of paper mache.) After modeling with your paper mache, let dry for at least 24 hours before painting.

With the amount of glue you'll likely be using for your crafts, consider making your own glue to be used in place of Elmer’s glue. Mix 3 tablespoons white flour with 4 tablespoons of cold water and whisk to remove clumps. Add slowly to 1 cup of boiling water in a pot, mixing well until it is all incorporated. Bring mixture to a boil until thickened, mixing constantly (approximately 1-2 minutes). Turn off flame and mix in 1 tablespoon sugar. Move to a container for storage, allow to cool, then use as you would regular glue. (It is just as strong and dries clear.) Store in refrigerator.

Decorative papers. Consider making these decorative papers to use for stationary, wrapping paper, etc.

  • Bubble Prints: Mix dish soap, a little tempera paint, and a drop of water in a large container. Stick a straw inside and attempt to blow bubbles into the mixture. If the bubbles don't remain after you cease blowing, add a little more water at a time until you can easily blow bubbles that will stick around. Blow enough bubbles that the bubbles reach the top of the container and beyond. Touch the bubbles with a piece of paper, then lift off. The paper should be covered in a beautiful bubble design.
  • Marbling: Place a paper in a wide, shallow box. Put a drop of tempera paint in a corner of the box (one or two colors, no more), then drop a few marbles into the box. By moving the box around, the marbles will get covered in paint and decorate your paper in an interesting design.

Goop. Like silly putty, this mixture is a blast for kids of all ages to play with. (Just be careful with young children who mouth everything. Goop is not edible.)
In one bowl, mix ½ cup white glue (not homemade glue) with half a cup water. Add food coloring if desired. In another bowl, mix 1 teaspoon borax with half a cup water. Pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture and mix well. Watch the glue react with the borax to make a silly putty like mixture.
Have fun playing with the goop! Note that goop sticks to fabric, so be careful. It dries when exposed to the air too long; store in an air tight container. Borax can be found wherever laundry detergent is sold.

What types of frugal crafts do you do with your kids? Have you made any of the above ideas? Which type are your favorite to make? Which do your kids enjoy most? Have you made any types of crafts not mentioned on the list? What did you make?

Linking up to WFMW

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