Even as a little tykette, I was always fascinated by the prospect of stringing macaroni and creating a piece of jewelry which I knew my mom would wear proudly around her neck. I'm sure she probably just wore it around the house, and stuffed it into her pocketbook when she was in public–but as a six-year-old I didn't know those details- all I knew was that my mommy loved the all the trinkets; shrinky dink key chains, jewelry boxes and finger-painted portraits I designed–all of which were prominently displayed around our house.
So I, too, try to be the same type of Mom- if you walk into my living room- while you won't find a Matisse adorning the walls- you will find- large red and blue finger paintings, several stick figure self portraits–don't you just love how kids draw themselves with no arms, just tiny sticks-and plenty of macaroni necklaces, magnets and Crayola masterpieces throughout the house.
If you're a parent looking to beat the heat, what better way to do so than by staying indoors (preferably in an air-conditioned room with an iced mocha latte) getting crafty with your kids? I know what you're thinking, I am not an artsy person. Yes, my stick figure drawings leave much to be desired, I barely can sew a button and the most art I've done in the last few years is draw my kids' names in bubble letters on their school supplies. My son also has informed me that he does not care to make yet another popsicle stick jewelry box for me since I've already got five on my dresser.
I know I sound very sappy–but I think our kids get such a kick out of doing work with us–in fact, my daughter is now in charge of folding the laundry and she seriously does a better job of folding than I do (more on that in any column or blog post). So if you are ready to set up a little art 101 studio in your kitchen keep reading for some crafty ways to cool down with your kids, minus the pressure to create a masterpiece.
#1 Household treasure hunts
Make a list of 10 things and then go look for them. These can be geared toward any subject matter: nature, a color, fruit, letters, etc.
#2 Puzzle mix-up
Take all your kids favorite puzzles, mix up the pieces in a pile and then work as a team to complete the puzzles.
#3 Make Water Designs
You can do this in your back yard, using a watering can, water and food coloring. Use the colored water to make designs and pictures. Colors wash off the ground naturally in a day or two.
#4 Gather up all those singleton socks and have yourself an old-fashioned puppet show. I too am forever trying to figure out just what happens to those socks that magically disappear in the dryer, is there some invisible shoot they go down- to another realm, where they're used for a race of Lilliputians as sleeping bags? Get out your markers, those googly eyes, your glue, yarn, scarps of fabric and make those puppets!
#5 Make a game out of cleaning out your refrigerator I have to admit I am SHOCKED at some of the items we still have in there and the stuff growing on them my kids think they're part of some grand science experiment.. Of course I didn't tell them it's more a part of their parents being too lazy to keep their fridge clean.
#6 Start a Book Club. Ask each child to select a book for the family to read, have a Book Club party and find snacks related to the book's theme- be it a tea party for a Fancy Nancy book or noodles and/or gummy worms for a book about snakes. And of course use a rewards system. For every 10 books that your kids read, allow a half-hour of uninterrupted video game time.
Bottom line: Kids are always engaged when their parents do activities with them and take the time to be with them.
I am really interested in finding ways to make crafts out of household items that I would otherwise toss in the trash- if you've got any ideas on how to turn your trash into treasured keepsakes- please post your comment!