32 Crafts for Kids That Will Encourage Creativity (and Keep Them Busy)

Photo: Denise Scicluna

Whether you're trying to keep cool throughout the summer months, spending some quality time with the entire family during the holidays, or are looking to infuse post-school afternoons with a little more fun, crafting with your kids is a great way to pass the time. Crafting can serve more of a purpose than simply nurturing your child's creativity, though.

From handmade jewelry and science projects to paper crafts and pom-poms, the following sensory activities (which are helpful for cognitive development) are creative, engaging DIYs that will help those young minds soar.

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Supersize Coloring Page

wall-sized coloring page
Aaron Dyer

A supersize coloring page (like our 3 x 4 print pictured here) will keep your kids entertained. To make, have your child do a line drawing in black marker on a piece of 8 1/2 x 11-inch white paper. (The more detailed the picture, the better.) Bring the drawing to a print shop to enlarge the image on a wide-format printer. Tape it to the wall or lay it on the floor, then let the kids make their masterpiece.

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Finger Paints


Adults and kids alike will love letting their creativity run wild with a finger painting creation. Completely nontoxic and washable, this DIY just needs ingredients you likely already have around the house, including sugar, cornstarch, cold water, and food coloring.

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Clothespin Paintbrushes

clothespin paintbrushes
Pernille Loof

Nature provides incredible inspiration—and one-of-a-kind supplies. Get your fledgling creatives to gather grasses, leaves, stems, and flowers in your yard, at the park, or at day camp.

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Natural Ink

natural ink swatches
Jason Logan

Here's another reason to corral the kids and head outside: It's an opportunity to forage for arts and crafts supplies. To make kid-friendly inks, look for natural materials—like leaves, berries, bark, moss—and use our base recipe to transform them into rich, saturated hues.

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Fluffy Slime

fluffy slime no borax
Shanna Sullivan

Our slime is soft, slippery, and fun to play with for hours on end. And not to worry—this craft is safe for the kiddos and Borax-free. Instead, it calls on saline solution as an "activating" ingredient.

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DIY Stickers

diy stickers craft

The only thing more fun for kids than collecting stickers is having a sticker collection they've designed themselves. The process to make these could be much easier than you think. The key ingredients are glue, white vinegar, and paint.

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Homemade Watercolor Paints

watercolor paint

See how many colors of the wheel they can make and mix with these easy DIY paints—plus, you'll find all the ingredients in your pantry.

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Painted Sneakers

DIY colorful sneakers
Linda Xaio

Paint 'em and then wear 'em with this fun sneaker DIY. Kids will love transforming boring white kicks into colorful runners. All you need are a pair of white sneakers, fabric paint, paint brushes, and loads of imagination.

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Balloon-Propelled Hovercraft

balloon-propelled hovercraft

Take old CDs into the future by making our DIY hovercrafts. Kids can decorate the CD to their liking, then cover the hole in the CD with a piece of packing tape.

1. Poke small holes in the tape with a pin (this controls the airflow).

2. Hot glue a pop-top soap cap or water bottle cap to the center of the disc—be sure to create a good seal to keep air from escaping.

3. Have an adult blow up the balloon all the way and pinch the neck to keep the air inside (don't tie it).

4. Make sure the pop-top is closed and fit the neck of the balloon over the pop-up portion of the cap, and then place on a smooth surface and pop the top open. Begin hovering.

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Decorated Pencils

decorated pencils next to miniature globe bank and school supplies

Simple and stylish, this project is perfect for jazzing up any back-to-school backpack. Begin by wrapping tape around the pencil—try a candy-cane design, or wrap in individual circles for parallel lines. Then paint over the whole pencil generously. When the paint is dry, remove the tape and your craft is complete.

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Sidewalk Chalk Paint

summer fun chalk it up
Chelsea Cavanaugh

See how many colors of the wheel they can make and mix with these easy DIY paints—as an added bonus, you'll find all the ingredients you need to make this essential craft supply right in your own kitchen.

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Papier-Mache Confetti Bowl

papier mache confetti bowls with hershey's kisses
Manal Aman

Pink and sparkly crafts aren't just for Valentine's Day—customize these bowls with colored confetti for a gorgeous DIY project. Use your new favorite bowls to store trinkets and treats.

1. To create your own, choose a bowl that you would like to use as the form and cover the exterior with plastic wrap.

2. Using the circle punch, make several circles from different shapes of paper and place the paper circles around the bowl with decoupage medium and a paint brush.

3. Let completely dry before gently removing the molded paper bowl from the bowl.

4. Gently remove the cling wrap from the inside of the paper bowl, and voila you have your own colorful dish.

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Magnetic Silly Putty


Mad scientists of all ages will love sinking their fingers into this magical, magnetic putty.

1. To make your own experiment, cover your work area with wax paper or another non-stick material to protect your work surface.

2. Remove putty from container and work the putty in your hands to warm it up, then stretch into a sheet and spoon one tablespoon of black iron oxide powder onto the putty.

3. Wearing gloves, knead and mix powder into the putty; continue for three to four minutes. Afterwards, try testing out its strength with your fridge magnets.

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Bubble Gift Wrap

Kate Mathis

All you need to make this DIY wrapping paper is washable kids' paint, bubble solution, a baking dish and baking sheet, straws, and white butcher paper.

1. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of paint to a 1/2 inch of bubble solution in a baking dish and mix with a spoon.

2. Place the dish on a baking sheet, then tilt baking dish to form a pool of the paint-bubble mixture.

3. Use straws to blow bubbles in the mixture, but be sure to supervise small children during this step to avoid ingestion.

4. Place paper on top of bubbles and repeat until paper is covered and let dry.

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Pipe-Cleaner Kiss Cards

pipe cleaner kiss cards
Aaron Dyer

Make these for Valentine's Day and keep on-hand for birthday cards, the holidays, and more.

1. Cut two bumps' worth of pipe cleaner and fold the piece in half, between the bumps, forming one corner of the mouth.

2. Then pinch the center of one bump to form the top lip.

3. Close the mouth by twisting the open ends together.

4. Attach the lips to card stock with craft glue, and using a pen marker, write a heartfelt message to your loved one.

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blue ice dyed table cloth and napkins

Kids love playing with colors and creating unique tie-dye patterns, but parents are less enthused about the inevitable clean up. This foolproof dyeing technique works on any solid cotton fabric. The result is a beautiful watercolor washed item.

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Colorful Kaleidoscope

diy-kaleidoscope-step8a-0517.jpg (skyword:431495)

Use household items like scrapbook paper and glue to create this project full of optical illusions. The completed DIY will allow the entire family to see life through a new lens. Consider putting the kaleidoscope against the window to see all of the colors and reflections.

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DIY Hand Warmers

hand warmers DIY
Ashley Poskin

This craft will come in handy during the cold-weather seasons. If you have scraps of cotton fabric, you can sew these little pocket hand warmers. Make a few extra for your loved ones as gifts, too.

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Paper Animal Masks

Courtesy of Lorena Siminovich

Trace our templates onto paper plates to make a zoo of creatures in no time. The whole family can make anything from tiger to owl faces using our step-by-step guide. Personalize them even more with feathers, glitter, and cut-out accessories.

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Speckled Painted Paper Fans

Mike Krautter

Beat the heat in style and have some fun while you're at it with these painted fans. Have your kids channel their inner Pollock and go wild with different colors, or have them simply paint their name.

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Colorful Pasta-and-Leaf Leis

leaf leis thanksgiving craft
Alpha Smoot

Little hands will have fun holding the pasta noodles and feeling the ridges and bumps as they're linked onto string. You can talk about the different varieties as an educational bonus. Use alphabet soup noodles to spell out names for each child's artwork or paint traditional pasta for added fun.

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Iron-On Kids' Tote Bag

kids iron tote bag
Jeff Sowder

Cloth bags are the perfect canvas for budding artists. Start with our clip art ideas or encourage your kids to design their own. It's quick and simple to do with iron-on transfer paper that fits through any ink-jet printer, available at craft stores.

1. Print a drawing onto multiple sheets of it, trim out the design, then use a dry iron to transfer the image to clean canvas, according to the instructions on the package.

2. Isolate one image from a busy drawing to make a bold, modern statement, or duplicate a single drawing several times to make a pattern.

3. After ironing on prints, let the coloring-in begin.

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Fairy Light Jars

DIY Fairy Twinle Jars

Create a magical set of glowing lanterns using craft paint, lights, and little mason jars and watch as your kids' imagination soars to new heights.

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Painted Umbrella

boy holding painted umbrella

Going out in the rain might not be fun, but with this simple craft, everyone will be excited to parade through the puddles. To create your own custom umbrella masterpiece, simply apply fabric paint to a nylon umbrella and let dry overnight before use.

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Felt Flower Barrettes

DIY flower barrettes

Forego shopping for hair accessories and make your own. Use our flower templates and cut out petal and leaf shapes and glue to a bobby pin to make a statement.

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Wood and Neon Lanyard Necklaces

wood and lanyard necklaces

This camp-inspired craft makes the perfect summer accessory. Kids can make one for themselves and one for a friend. To make the center necklaces, cut two pieces of lanyard about twice the length of the desired finished product. Slide a bead over both pieces to just off center—leaving at least a 12-inch tail. Loop the ends of both pieces back over the bead and thread through again (creating a backstitch). Repeat with all beads; finish with another tail at least 12 inches long and secure around neck with a double knot.

To make the necklace on the right, cut enough pieces of lanyard to desired length to fill hole in bead. Thread all pieces through the holes of each bead, spacing as desired (the tight fit will hold the beads in place).

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Tissue Paper Pom-Poms

girl holding diy pom-poms
Annie Schlechter

Add a little pep to your crafting time with pom-poms. Customize with colors and sizes, or make a batch of minis to string onto a festive garland.

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Pinecone Mouse

pinecone mice
Johnny Miller

Create some new critters for your little ones to play with. For this autumnal craft, you'll need scissors, two large pinecone scales to create the ears, white and brown acrylic paint, small paintbrushes, one short piece of twine for the tail, and one egg-shape pinecone for the body. You'll also need craft glue and one acorn with the cap removed to craft the head.

Cut large scales into rounded ear shapes and then paint the inner ears white and let dry before painting the twine brown for the tail. While it's still wet, twist twine around finger to curl and let dry. Next, brush the top of the pinecone body with glue and attach the acorn as the head. Then brush the wide end of the body with glue and attach the tail and let dry. Paint the acorn head with glue and attach ears before laying to dry. Finally, paint brown eyes and a nose to put the finishing touches on your new pet.

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Kinetic Sand

thermochromic kinetic sand

Wow little ones with this shape (and color) shifting sand that morphs the more you play with it. This craft serves as the perfect opportunity to add some education to the mix. Teach kids about thermochromic kinetics and let their curiosity roam free.

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Magnetic Lunch Chart

girl placing stickers on chart

A lunch chart turns into fun for you and your kids when they can help make their own menu for the week ahead with the help of our downloadable templates.

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Crystal Snowflakes


Whether the forecast calls for snow or not, this science project is a flurry of fun. Add glitter to the crystal creations for extra sparkle.

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Homemade Play Dough

homemade clay

What's more fun than play dough? Making it from scratch. Everyone will love mixing the ingredients and shaping them into a squishy, moldable medium. It's the perfect activity for getting messy and having fun.

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