Learning how to use common household items for crafts can be a way to create something fun without spending a lot of money. Learning how to use what you have to get what you need has always been a valuable skill. These days, it can save money, time, and sanity all at once. When your kids are bored and there is nothing else to do, take a moment to look around. What you see as trash can easily be used to entertain, occupy, and enlighten little minds and hands.
If you’ve ever given a child a gift that came in a large box, you’ve already seen the phenomenon. It occurs whenever a child is around a box as big as they are. Suddenly, opportunities crest in their imagination, and there’s no stopping them from creating their ideal house, castle, or spaceship, even if the item that came in the box was an actual toy house, castle, or spaceship. Here are some craft ideas to use with boxes:
*Fort: deconstruct several large boxes so that each becomes a room, appliance, or roof. Cut out windows, doors, and spy holes. Decorate with paint, marker, or even papier mache. The same principle applies to box houses, castles, and spaceships.
*Building blocks: use shoe boxes or several small cardboard boxes. Tape them thoroughly until they cannot be opened and their shape is stable. These can now be used as stacking blocks to create more houses, castles, and spaceships.
*Nesting boxes: start with a very tiny lidded box, maybe a ring box. Place a small treasure inside. Find a box that just barely fits this one and put the ring box inside it. Continue this process until you have as many boxes as you can. Give to your child and watch them unwrap their treasure again and again.
Jars can be filled with liquids and small objects to make music, art, and science.
Singing jars: fill each of several glass jars or cups with different amounts of liquid. Put a drop of a different color of food coloring in each jar. They can now be “played” by blowing across the top (if a soda bottle) or striking the side with a pencil or spoon.
Maracas: fill jars with pennies, washers, rice, and other items. Close the jars tightly and shake them to hear their music.
Bean art: gather several uniquely-colored or shaped dried beans, pastas, or peas for this project. Carefully layer them in the jar in contrasting colors. Be careful to create definite lines of color and texture. These can be given as gifts for decoration or recipe purposes.
When thinking of crafts and activities for kids, use what you’ve got, but use it in a unique way. Bottles and smooth, cylindrical jars can be used to roll out play dough. Biscuit cutters, jars, and cups can make great cookie cutters. Garlic presses make great play dough “hair”, and dried beans and rice make a great textural “sand” to play with indoors. Give your child measuring cups and spoons and several containers and watch them studiously measure and dole out beans and rice.
Kids already know how to use everything around them for play. Even if the instinct has been masked by hours of television and video games, it is still there, waiting for the chance to come out. Your instinct is there, too. Have an adventure with your children as you see common household objects in new and different ways together.