All kids need creative outlets to express themselves and have some precious moments away from the TV or their beloved video games. Arts and crafts projects are a great way to spend time with your kids and let them use their imaginations. While craft kits from hobby stores are a fun and organized way to get artsy, kids can make creations with items you already have around the house.
Here are five simple, at-home craft projects. They all use stuff you already have in your kitchen and bathroom. So, not only will you save money, but you'll always have something on hand when you hear the inevitable cry of "I'm bored!"
5: Artificial Snow Cleanup
Over the past few decades, artificial snow has become a big industry for ski resorts. Pouring the fake stuff over mountain tops in the warmer months lets ski and snowboard enthusiasts enjoy outdoor activities year round. The snow also has many household uses, such as holiday decorating and creating pictures.
However, it can be hard to wash the material off windows and other surfaces. Before your children start spraying away, prepare the surface with a light coat of cooking spray. Or if it's too late for that, rub the artwork with a little white toothpaste. Wipe clean and watch it fade.
4: Invisible Ink Decoder
Decoding invisible ink is an important tool used by law enforcement to solve crimes related to espionage and counterfeiting rings. Of course, it can also be a fun activity for kids. Try incorporating it into a scavenger hunt with friends and family.
Write secret messages using "invisible ink." Have a child dip a cotton swab in lemon juice and write or draw on plain white paper. To make the design appear, hold the paper to the sun or near a hot light bulb. Supervise children as they do this just in case.
3: Dental Floss String
Setting up an arts and crafts project is a great activity for the kids to do with a babysitter. If you're going out for a long overdue dinner and movie and have a new babysitter coming over, everyone will be more comfortable working on a pre-planned activity like jewelry-making.
Use dental floss to string beads for necklaces, bracelets, and other homemade jewelry projects. The woven nylon fibers are stronger than string or twine and hold tight when tied into a knot. Dental floss is one of the best craft tools because it is hard to break, but easy to cut.
2: Keep Newspaper Fresh
Having your children cut out articles, ads or comics from the local paper and stick them in a scrapbook can be fun and educational. And they'll get a kick out of trying this method for keeping the clippings from getting brittle and yellowed.
Mix 1 capful of milk of magnesia into a quart of fresh club soda; let it sit overnight. Stir the solution well in the morning and pour it into a shallow pan. Insert the clipping; wait 2 hours, then carefully remove it and lay it flat on a towel. When it's dry, mount it in a scrapbook (with adhesive photo corners or other archival methods, not glue or tape).
1: Display the Masterpiece
Painting or drawing pictures with the kids is a great rainy day or after-school activity. It's low key enough not to start an argument between siblings, but entertaining enough to last at least one hour. Lay out different tools, like crayons, markers and finger paints, so everyone can pick and choose what they want.
Once the pictures are done, hang 'em with dental floss. Apply craft glue to attach the floss to the back of the paper, or punch a small hole in the artwork and thread the floss through. Make sure to tie the knot tight or double knot it for extra security.
Adapted from "Amazing Uses for Household Products: Toothpaste" © 2009 Publications International, Ltd.