I love creative kids! I love creating things with my creative kids! I love that my creative kids are going to grow up into fabulous problem solvers! BUT I do not love unrealistic expectations when it comes to our creative time.
This summer the goal is to have fun, feed your children’s minds with creative activities and keep it simple! The most important element in creating a creative activity for kids is that they feel successful-bottom line! You don’t want to pick a project because of what YOU want them to create. It is all about them being kids. So, it WILL be a little messy, it WON’T look perfect, and you may not be able to hold their attention as long as you’d like, BUT you NEED to do it! Why? Because so much of our kids’ lives are scheduled, structured, plugged-in, and “multiple choice” that the value of preserving some good ol’ creative time, where it is ALL about them and the magical potential within each of their minds, is PRICELESS! I would argue it is the single most important thing we can do for our kids. We want them to grow into adults who love to conquer a problem, who laugh in the face of discouragement and who confidently create change! This is why we raise creatively fit kids!
Here are my top five summer crafts. I am taking you off the hook. You don’t need fancy supplies. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. You don’t have to worry about perfection (it doesn’t exist). All you have to do is provide the raw material and the backyard table. Then, you can pat your back and compliment yourself on raising future problem-solving, optimistic, & inspired adults!
You can’t beat it! I recommend buying a tie-dye kit. Jacquard makes some great, simple kits that have everything you need! The colors will really stay vibrant (just follow the directions).Now, you could do t-shirts (you can do cute tanks for girls, etc.) OR what about tie-dying white beach towels, bandannas, or cover-ups. You can tie-dye almost anything! WEAR gloves, or your hands will stay multi-colored for days and tie-dye outside. When you are finished, take the kids to the pool or turn on the sprinkler!
#2 Artsy Summer Tote
This is truly fun for ANY age! I created some of these bags with my kids when they were just 1, 2 and 3! All you need is a plain tote bag (even a color is fine), some masking tape to mask off the painting space, and acrylic paint (it’s all non-toxic). Simply place the tape on the side of the bag in whatever shape you want. If you have little kids, you can tape paper to cover the rest of the tote so all of their creativity stays “in the lines” (can you believe I am saying that?!?!). This method is what I call “organized chaos”. Paint the entire area of the next bag and see which you like the best. Then, give your kids one color at a time. If you wanted to use all colors, for example, start with the lightest first and move up: yellow, orange, red, blue, purple, green. Or stay in one color family so the colors don’t get “mushed” into muddy colors. Paint with yellow, green and blue. Let them use a paint brush, their fingers (this is the beauty of summer time craft time-it’s outside!), or stamps, sponges, or anything else that is laying around.
Here is what you do if your kids don’t have a long attention span. Simply make it a multiple occasion craft. Maybe your 3 year old only makes it through the yellow and green paint, but you really want to see the blue on there. Well, paint the blue on tomorrow. Go with the flow! You have to with creative kids!
#3 July 4th T-shirts
Your kids will feel so proud on parade day when they are sporting their own patriotic designs! Start with a white, red, or blue t-shirt. Use the same colors of acrylic paint. You can use standard artist acrylic paint or specialty fabric paint. First, use whatever you have. Acrylic paint does not come out of clothes, so you are all set there. Buy star-shaped stamps OR if you have star shaped cookie cutters you can use those by painting the edges. They can use their fingerprints to make fun designs. Let them have at it. Watch your desire to control their experience. Let it be ALL their own project. People will recognize that your “little artist” is wearing an original design and you will be the one with the “gold star” by your name!
#4 Splatter Paint Bed Set
If you have kids around the 8-12 range, they will think you are so “cool” to let them do this. It may feel scary, but just take a deep breath and remember that it is all about fueling your kids’ inspired minds!
Use any set of old/new solid-colored or white sheets. Mix 2 parts acrylic paint to one part water in the individual yogurt cup size containers. This will thin the acrylic so the sheets are still comfy in the end. Lay the sheets out on the grass, away from the house, and let the kids release their inner “Jackson Pollock”! Let the sheets dry in the sun, wash, and let the KIDS make their new beds! If you need to relax after this project, treat yourself to your own creative retreat and tap your OWN inner-Pollock.
#5 Kids LOVE Birds!
Make a bird feeder. You can buy a wooden bird feeder at a craft store, make a temporary feeder with a shoe box, or other box, or salvage an old bird feeder and give it a new life. Paint it with acrylic paint or old house paint that you already have. Glue found objects to it, glitter, bottle caps, buttons, those colorful erasers hanging around from goody-bags…you get the picture. Anything goes! Brainstorm with your kids about what you could turn into a bird feeder. See how many ideas you could come up with…an old shoe, a milk jug, a peanut butter jar with a wire handle to hang from a tree or hook. That jar could also be painted with glass paint (or acrylic paint as well), a wire attached to the rim with a loop for hanging, and a votive candle inserted for creative outdoor decor!
The focus of all of these projects is honestly not on whether or not the bird feeder is still up in the fall,or if the paint splattered sheets make it to the next season, but it is about encouraging and nurturing your child’s creative ability. Creativity is a “21st Century Skill” and more vital than ever for our national and global prosperity. If we are not raising creative kids, who is going to create all of the solutions?
Whitney Ferre’ believes that the key to our (r)evolution lies within our creative mind. She is the author of The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit (endorsed by Dan Pink), and 33 Things to Know About Raising Creative Kids. You can download her FREE eBook with 7 Right Brain Tips at [http://www.creativelyfit.com] where she offers her interactive online programs + eBooks designed to provide a simple system anyone can use to launch their own Personal Renaissance.