Summer vacation is well underway. Whether your kids are tired of going to the pool or you’re simply looking for a few fun ideas, there are tons of great hands-on projects to keep them busy. From terrariums to marble runs, there’s something here for everyone. Happy crafting!
1. Make an indoor terrarium.
Not only is this fun, but it also teaches your kids about growing things and then taking care of them, per She Knows. You’ve got to love a project that’s entertaining and educational.
- A large glass fish bowl
- Two to three small plants
- Several medium stones
- A few larger stones
- Small plastic animals or insects
What to do:
- Pour a layer of small gravel in the bottom of your fish bowl, saving a couple handfuls to use on top of the soil later.
- Cut a piece of burlap that is just a little bit smaller than the bowl. Lay it on top of the gravel. The burlap’s job is to stop the soil from falling down into the gravel, ensuring the terrarium drains properly.
- Take one of your plants from its pot. Break apart the soil to loosen it, then place the plant in the bowl.
- Add the remaining plants to the bowl, making sure to leave a little space between each plant to give it room to grow.
- Sprinkle the rest of the gravel over the top of the soil.
- Now it’s time to cut out pieces of the moss. Cut it in free-form, natural shapes, and use it to cover any exposed soil.
- Add larger rocks throughout the terrarium.
- Decorating time! Add anything else you’d like, including fake insects, flowers, or plastic animals.
- You’re done. Make sure to place the terrarium in a sunny place, watering it periodically. You don’t need a lot of water, so don’t over pour.
2. Build a marble run.
Do your kids love building with blocks or Legos? If so, this marble run will be right up their alley.
- Toilet paper rolls
- Masking tape
- Marbles (you can also use balls, jellybeans or other small, rounded objects)
- A basket
What to do:
- Start by wrapping the toilet paper rolls with masking tape (use color tape to brighten it up).
- Once the rolls are covered, use scissors to cut each tube the long way, right down the center. You should have two U-shaped half tubes.
- Find a free wall, and tape the highest tube to a spot, making sure it’s one your child can still reach. Keep taping rolls to the wall, working your way toward the floor.
- Before you start securing the tubes with tape, test out the angles and distances to make sure your marble will have a smooth connection. Once you’ve tested it out, tape the tubes in place.
- You’re all set! Put a marble at the top of the first tube, and enjoy. The basket comes in handy if you’re looking for something to catch your marbles in.
3. Go make a kite (and then fly it).
What’s better than spending a beautiful afternoon flying kites with your kids? How about flying a kite you’ve helped them assemble. If your kids are ready to make their own, here’s a step by step guide, as shown in Today’s Parent.
- 2 to 3 millimeter-wide basket weaving reed (available at craft or art supply stores)
- One spool of strong, thin string
- Thin plastic tablecloth
- Double-sided carpet tape
- One sheet of colored vinyl with a sticky backing
- 15-centimeter wooden dowel (must be narrow enough to fit through the center of your spool)
What to do:
- Measure and cut your reed based on the size of the kite you want. If you soak the reed in water for 10 minutes first, it’ll make it more flexible.
- Use the reed to form the kite’s frame. Tie your reeds together with string, so it begins to take shape.
- Lay the tablecloth down on a flat surface and place the frame on top of it. Use a marker to trace around the frame leaving a 2.5-centimeter border on all sides. Remove the frame and cut it out.
- Apply tape to the tablecloth along the border, just outside of the frame. Fold the plastic around the reed, firmly pressing it together.
- Cut out vinyl shapes as eyes, stripes, a smile, or anything else your child wants to put there. You can make the kite look like whatever you want, but if you’re looking for ideas, you can cut the excess tablecloth into strips and tape to the body to make a tail. When you’re done decorating, tie a string to the middle reed on the back of your kite, and slip the dowel through the spool.
- Now head to Milwaukee’s Veterans Park, 1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive (or the nearest park), and enjoy a beautiful day of kite flying.
4. Create alphabet refrigerator magnets.
If you’ve got younger kids, here is an easy and fun project to do with them.
- Craft foam
- Craft glue, or a hot glue gun and glue sticks
What to do:
- Start by cutting letter shapes out of the craft foam, helping your kids if they’re too young to be handling a scissors. Or, you can use these printable letters. You can cut out enough letters to spell a word, the whole alphabet, or even someone’s initials.
- Cut small pieces from your magnet strip or sheet, or you can even pick up magnet dots. Use glue to attach the magnets to the back of your foam letters. If you have larger letters, use a few magnet pieces to ensure it stays in place.
- Once the glue is dry, hang your magnets on the fridge. If the letters are big enough, you can even decorate them with paint, stickers, ribbon or anything else you have around the house.