On Friday, we shared tips for avoiding the “summer slide” and encouraging your kids to remain actively engaged in learning during their time away from school. While library reading programs and museum trips are always great ideas to mark on your summer calendar, I am a big fan of making art a part of your week even when you’re away from home. And because you definitely can’t take the kitchen sink with you on family road trips or summer vacations, I thought of a smart way to ensure creativity on the go by making themed craft kits for your kids (this would've have been perfect when I switched between my parents' homes as a kid).
To create a craft kit for your child, all you’ll need is a carrying case (e.g., tin lunch box, Tupperwear storage); materials found at Target or JoAnn’s Fabrics, around the house, and in nature; and clip art, images from a favorite coloring book, or free-hand illustrations that you’ve created based on a theme that excites your child.
This idea was ultimately born from my search for a unique birthday present—I wanted to give something that reflected the family's interest in art and reuse, as well as the child's love of mermaids. And I also thought of my life as a mom, where I want some semblance of order admidst the toddler chaos and live for easy clean up. So, this is what happens when creative lightning strikes.
I made the kit for my friend’s daughter by adapting a picture of a mermaid based on one I found on the Internet (thanks to Googling "Mermaid Birthday" I landed on this great craft blog This Mama Makes Stuff, which you should definitely check out because she shares a lot of awesome ideas). Then I had it printed on multiple sheets of cardstock that I cut to size to fit within the BPA-free plastic carrying case. Along with the blank illustrations, I included different sized fabric swatches, felt, and paper, natural glue, stickers, shells, feathers, pom-pons, ribbon, foil, yarn, thread, and a few adhesive rhinestones. I then created an example mermaid to inspire imagination but made sure to label it with a cute message about the magic of both the mythical creatures and children’s minds to innovate and create.
Because everything you need is in one container, you can easily tuck it into your car’s backseat or trunk or bring it on a plane to provide hours of entertainment. Even better, this project can easily be tailored to suit your child’s age and interests by substituting the mermaid with illustrations of fire trucks, dogs, insects, planets, ice cream cones…you name it.
What summer arts and crafts do you have planned?
~ The Other Sarah