It happens to every parent: you plan out a fantastic, incredibly detailed craft that invariably gets derailed and ends with your children fighting, your patience thinning, and a huge mess that you'll have to clean up later. But that doesn't mean that craft time has to be limited to crayons and paper, however — you can still foster a creative spirit in your children without having to practically renovate the house after.
So if you're looking for a few low-stress ideas for craft projects to occupy your little ones while school's out for the summer, then here's what you need to know.
This sounds terrifyingly permanent, expensive, and messy — but luckily, glass etching can be a great, positive experience with very little room for error. You don't need to worry about your kids marking up your window glass; the glass panes that come with any cheap photo frame are small enough for their little hands and inexpensive enough that you can have a couple in case a drawing goes horribly awry.
Etching paint is cheap and available at any craft store, and stencils (good for designs that aren't easy to free-hand) are similarly inexpensive and easy to acquire. Just make sure you put a layer of butcher paper down on the table before crafting and you should be good to go.
Nothing's more fun for kids than clay, and baked clay is great for ornaments, tchotchkes, and that ilk. It's good for kids to have crafts that are permanent and can stand the test of time, unlike drawings or paintings, but that are less expensive than, say, decorating kiln-fired sculptures.
A bit of clay, an oven, some cookie cutters (that are kept far away from actual food-use cookie cutters) and a table with saran wrap stretched over it are the only tools you'll need for your kids to be able to make their own creations that they can keep for years to come.
Normally you'd buy these holiday decorations at the store — but making them is much easier (and much more fun for your kids) than you'd think. Take a design (something drawn, something out of a coloring book, whatever works), lay some parchment paper over it so that you can see the design through the parchment, then let your kid trace the design with puff paint, filling it in as well.
Wait 48 hours (which will be the hardest part of this craft for your kids), then peel the design (carefully!) off of the parchment paper. Your homemade window graphics will then be ready to use!