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100 Summer Crafts for Kids Under 5

paintingcraftInstead of wasting away during the dog days of summer, why not fill those long days with laughter and crafting by doing some or all of these 100 crafts? Whether you are trying to be green or just save money on your craft budget, there are tons of crafting ideas that use recycled items and objects from nature. You can find plenty of ways to entertain the kids with painting, play dough, balloons and bubbles. Some of the craft ideas will be better to do outside, but many can be done inside if it’s too hot or if it’s raining. Take a look at these 100 posts to find ideas that will keep the kids busy all summer long.

Recycling

While putting items in the recycling bin is a fine and noble thing, it’s even better if you can reuse the items yourself. Keep a box handy for items that you can use for craft projects, like egg cartons, plastic food tubs, lids, chip cans, coffee cans and food cans. Read these 10 posts to learn how to use some of the items from your recycling bin in a new way. Using recycled materials is a smart way to save money and to encourage the kids to use their imaginations.

  • Make these cool goggles made from a recycled egg carton with the kids that they can enjoy wearing as they run around the yard exploring this summer. This fun idea is from the site Education.
  • Planetpals has directions for making binoculars out of cardboard tubes and Popsicle sticks that the kids can use later for bird watching.
  • Use your leftover baby food jars to make adorable animals like the ones on Making Friends.
  • Looking for something to make with those leftover soup cans? Look no further, Favecrafts has created this bowling set your little ones can make.
  • Do you have a button box that is over flowing? Pull it out and encourage the kids to make a button person like the one featured on Free Kids Crafts.
  • Recycle a plastic milk jug with your little one and turn it into a place to store all those plastic grocery bags. Take a look at the idea on Danielle’s Place.
  • This Earth Day craft is perfect for little ones because they get to actually create the earth out of a round balloon, some newspaper and flour paste. Get an idea of how to paint it like the earth by checking out Enchanted Learning.
  • Preschoolers are pros at cutting and pasting, so why not let them create a collage using old magazines and junk mail? Ideas can be found on First-School.
  • Two liter bottles can really fill up the landfill, so instead encourage your child to use one to make a piggy bank like the one featured on Inhabitots
  • Let the kids make their own luck by creating these adorable ladybugs out of recycled egg cartons. You’ll need just a few more supplies, which are detailed on Family Corner.

Nature

Spending time outside during the summer is fun, but finding and collecting items to use in a craft project will make it even more entertaining. From rocks to seeds to flowers, your kids can search the yard or park to find items to use in a craft project. Hiking and foraging is great exercise for the kids and then they can come inside and do a craft project to cool off, like the ones listed in these blogs.

  • Encourage the kids to use their imagination when they are out taking a walk and ask them to pick up items that they can use to make a bug village, like the one on Kinder Art.
  • Try this craft that will thrill both boys and girls. The girls will enjoy gathering up flowers and leaves to make a pretty design while the boys will enjoy using a rock to bash those flowers and leaves. It’s okay, that’s how this project works according to Garden Therapy.
  • Readily available items like leaves, seed pods and twigs can turn into a fabulous fairy friend with a bit of imagination. For inspiration check out the project on Activity Village.
  • While out on your hike you may run into flowers that your kids want to keep, so the best idea is to press these flowers. After they’ve dried you can even use them to make framed art or the glass vases featured on Red Ted Art.
  • Tie in this craft with story time. Make a walking stick out of found items like the one on Crafting Connections and read the book Daniel and His Walking Stick by Wendy McCormick.
  • Make some rock people by using rocks that the kids have collected and have them use those rocks to create people like the ones on The Craft Crow.
  • Have some fun with a photo of your child and some items from nature. Encourage your child to glue items around and on the photo to create a funny picture like the one found on Parents.
  • Let the kids get creative with their nature finds and put them into the lid from a box to make their own shadow box, like the one shown here at Teach Preschool.
  • Your child can make his own mobile using sticks and other natural elements that the he’s found. For some basic construction ideas check out Artists Helping Children.
  • Collect those funny maple seeds that fly around like a propeller to make your own dragon flies that you can paint or leave plain like the one pictured on Filth Wizardry.

Beach Themed

Kids have a fascination with ocean life, and would probably love to make some beach or sea inspired crafts during the summer. If you travel to a beach on vacation you can bring back some drift wood, shells, sea glass and other items from the beach to use in craft projects. Doing these projects after you get home will help them remember your trip to the beach. Even if you don’t plan on making a trip to the beach, some of these other craft projects will be enjoyable to make with the kids.

  • Kids have impressive imaginations if given the opportunity to use them. Comb the beach for shells and bring them home to create shell creatures like these koalas featured on the Martha Stewart site.
  • Have the kids found tons of sea glass, but you’re not sure what to do with it? Worry no more; you can use some copper wire along with some twigs to create a wall hanging similar to the one on Visibly Moved.
  • Better Homes and Gardens has a clever idea to use found shells and other beach items to create a memory jar.
  • Make a fake sand dollar using paper plates and beans with this unique craft idea on Crafts by Amanda.
  • Let the kids make a turtle using construction paper and a paper plate along with some paint or crayons like the one found on Playing House in Maryland.
  • Help the kids with letter recognition while they glue shells to a store bought wooden letter that they can later hang on their wall like the one found on Beachcomber.
  • Maybe your kids have seen hermit crabs at the mall or maybe they even own one. Let them make their own using their hand print and this simple idea from Tippy Toe Crafts.
  • Make this fun beach ball craft using a paper plate and finger paints or crayons.  Get an idea of how it should look on Gummy Lump.
  • Get your kids thinking about under the sea characters and have them make the button sea horse from The Art Annex.
  • The blog No Time for Flashcards put together this simple shell frame that you can make out of recycled cardboard and shells that you found on the beach.

Painting

Painting can sometimes be messy, but the great thing about summer is that the kids can paint outside! These painting projects will utilize flowers, straws, balloons and other creative things. Inspire the kids to create something new and different by breaking away from using a brush to paint with. This list of 10 blogs is full of different painting ideas the kids will love.

  • Gather some straws, paint and paper and your little one can get busy creating a “blow painting” just like the one on Picklebums.
  • Are the kids a little hard on the paintbrushes? Instead, give them other things to use to paint with, like flowers or toys, as seen on Using Your Words.
  • Let the kids try their hands at painting a pot with rainbow colors using a technique that is simple enough for preschoolers (with supervision) and create something like this one of a kind Dilly Dali Art.
  • This painting project is perfect for two and three year old kids, and uses tools that you may have around the house. The kids will be having so much fun doing this squeeze bottle paint project shown on Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds that you may just want to join in!
  • The Preschool Toolbox has some painting ideas that tie in learning about clouds with a craft project.
  • A technique frequently used by water color artists is to sprinkle salt on their work because it causes an interesting effect. See for yourself on Sweet Happy Life, then get busy creating a water color masterpiece using salt, glue and water colors with your little artist.
  • Want to thrill and amaze the kids? How about trying fizzing sidewalk paint found on Kids Activities blog?
  • Kids love to touch things, so try this craft where you combine painting and plastic wrap. For more information on this sensory paint activity, check out Mrs. Karen’s Class blog.
  • If you love handprint and footprint artwork you will really enjoy letting your kids paint with their feet to create the wings of a butterfly, as found on Create-Kids-Crafts.
  • What says summer better than a slice of watermelon? Let the kids make their own with paint and sunflower seeds like the craft found on Bright Hub Education.

Play Dough

Play dough is a year-round craft medium and has so many uses, and you can make it in any color or fragrance. If you have a little one that tends to put play dough in his mouth, check out the edible peanut butter dough. Most of the recipes use commonly found items that you probably already have on hand, making it a great project for a rainy day. Take a look at these 10 blogs to find a recipe or two that you might want to try.

  • Mix up some cooked play dough for your child to play with in a neon color like the one shown on Family Education.
  • Want to try something new with the kids when it comes to play dough? Try this coffee play dough that looks more like mud than dough; get the recipe on Kids’ Activities blog.
  • Try creating themed craft activities. Fantastic Fun and Learning has tied together sculpting with real watermelon and sticks with watermelon play dough, as well as a sun catcher activity.
  • Jazz up your plain old play dough by adding a flavored drink mix or gelatin like the recipes on Queen Bee Coupons.
  • If you want to combine snack time and play dough time, you might want to try making this edible play dough for your kids. A peanut butter dough recipe can be found on Our Best Bites.
  • Get the kids involved making this delicious smelling play dough that uses a powdered drink mix. The recipe can be found on The Connections We Share.
  • Create a rainbow of play dough using all the flavors of gelatin. The sweet fragrance will make the kids want to eat it, however the recipe at Modern Parents Messy Kids isn’t edible.
  • The smell of citrus is supposed to be stimulating, so make up a batch of orange scented play dough. The recipe is on the blog Thirty Handmade Days.
  • Tie in this cute hedgehog clay and spaghetti project by reading the book The Hat by Jan Brett that’s about a little hedgehog. Find the instructions on Positively Splendid.
  • Anyone can play with clay on a flat surface, but how about creating a scene and hanging it on the wall? Find out how on Blog Me Mom.

Scissor Skills

Being skilled with scissors is a precursor to being able to hold a pencil for writing. Encourage your child to use scissors frequently to get proficient at using them. In these small ways you are preparing your child for school in the coming years. All of the craft projects in this list will include an element that needs to be cut with scissors. Look over these 10 blogs to see if you have the supplies on hand for some of these projects.

  • Help the kids make a butterfly headband so they can practice their coloring and scissor skills, as seen on First Palette.
  • Let your kids make their own slice of watermelon using scissors, a paper plate and some pink paper. See the instructions for this project on Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail.
  • Get the kids to work on their scissor skills by making this octopus and let them decide how many legs he should have. You’ll find the directions for this simple craft on A Thrifty Mom.
  • Kids can make their own simple scrapbooks by collecting things that they want to remember, like ticket stubs or programs. Let them cut out accessories to add to their scrapbooks like the one done by Inner Child Fun.
  • Try this fun craft with the kids. Let their imaginations run wild as they create their own monster out of paper and scissors like the one on Toddler Approved.
  • Cut up a paper plate and make a visor to wear. The kids can work on their scissor skills and also decorate the visor any way they want, just like the one shown on Preschool-Learning-and-Crafts.
  • Who wants to work with scissors? Let the kids decorate this owl to later cut out and mount on a tree like the one found at Almost Unschoolers.
  • Have your kids do the bright and cheery sunflower craft from She Knows by letting them cut out sunflower petals from paper or craft foam.
  • Let the kids practice their scissor skills by cutting up straws for a necklace or by making fringe for a lion like the one found on Simply Kids.
  • Get the kids outside at the same time as you are working on scissor skills. Let them hunt for things to cut up around the yard like the kids did on Teach Mama.

Rainy Day Options

There will inevitably be those rainy days during the summer when the kids can’t go outside. Don’t worry, by planning ahead you can have several rainy day activities ready to do at a moment’s notice. Pop some popcorn and watch a movie or read a book. Tie the book into a craft project. Look at your books and see if you have a book about a hedgehog or a frog and find a craft that uses one of those. Try any of the crafts on these 10 blogs on your next rainy day.

  • Try this rainy day activity of wrapping pipe cleaner letters with yarn to make a special word that your child can hang on their wall, like the one featured on Pioneer Woman.
  • What goes with rain better than rainbows? Help the kids make this rainbow craft to work on color sorting, painting and scissor skills. See an example rainbow collage on The Imagination Tree.
  • Why not let the kids make their own boat out of a box like the one seen on Nurture Store?
  • Help the kids make a boat that they might later be able to try to float in a puddle. There are several different boat crafts on So Crafty.
  • What do you need when it rains? An umbrella! Let the kids make the umbrella craft featured on Busy Bee Kids Crafts.
  • The rain will make the flowers grow, so why not create some pretty indoor flowers inside while it’s raining outside? The directions for several flowers can be found on Craft Jr.
  • First thing in the morning have the kids freeze some straws upright in some ice cubes. Later in the day when the ice is frozen the kids can add sails to the straws and float the ice cube boats in the rain water until they melt. See an example of the boat at Urban Sitter.
  • Drag out the crayons and print off some weather-related coloring pages for the kids to color. Some rainy day pictures can be found at a site called Coloring.
  • Sometimes the lights can go out during a thunderstorm, so you can have the kids make some paper lanterns just in case. Simple instructions can be found at Moms Who Think.
  • Frogs love the rain, so grab some toy frogs and craft foam and create some lily pad boats for your toy frogs and float them in the sink or outside in a puddle like these on Fae Mom Crafts.

Balloons

Playing with balloons can be tons of fun, especially if you can turn them into a craft. Make a balloon sculpture, paint with balloons or fill them with water and freeze them. Tie in a brief science lesson and talk about why the CD hovercraft works. See if it matters if you change the size of your balloon. One safety note: always be careful when working with balloons around young children because they can be a choking hazard. Look for more balloon fun in these 10 blogs.

  • Make a hovercraft with your kids by using a push up water bottle top, a CD, some super glue and a balloon. Find the full instructions on Scribbit.
  • Have some water balloon fun by filling up water balloons with paint and throwing them at paper, as seen on All Free Kids Crafts.
  • Construct a papier-mâché hot air balloon using a balloon and simple flour paste. You can hang this in the kids’ rooms or in the toy room when you are done. For instructions for this project check out Preschool Plan It.
  • Cool down with this balloon ice project. Have the kids put a couple of toys inside the balloon and fill it with water, then freeze it overnight. The next day let them cut off the balloon and play with the frozen orb outside until it melts enough to get the toys out. Preschool Crafts for Kids shows this project in more detail.
  • This simple craft uses a balloon of any color and some streamers to make an octopus. Let the kids draw a face and attach the legs. To see a sample octopus look on Preschool Powol Packets.
  • Let the kids make their own balloon bracelet jewelry. Find out how at Michelle Paige’s blog.
  • Make some music with a balloon bongo drum. Use those cans from the recycling bin and let the kids loose. Learn how to make the drums on MinieCo.
  • If the summer is ‘weighing’ you down you may want to make this simple balloon twisted anchor project with the kids. For step-by-step directions, check out Custom Balloon Designs.
  • Do the kids sometimes stress you out? Ask them to make these useful stress balls using balloons and play dough and you can play with them when they are done. For ideas on how to decorate the stress balls go to the Pre-School Play blog.
  • Let the kids get creative and paint with balloons. This activity is perfect for the young artist, as seen on Jada Roo Can Do.

Bubbles

Who doesn’t love bubbles? Don’t spend a fortune on bubble solution from the store, though, when it’s so simple to make at home. Let the kids stir together a batch of bubble juice using dish soap, corn syrup and water. You can find an actual recipe in one of the blogs in this list. No bubble wand around? Make your own! If you use a baby pool and a hula hoop you can actually make a bubble big enough for your child to stand inside! Wouldn’t that be exciting? If you don’t want to mess with real bubbles, try crafting with bubble wrap. Read through these 10 blogs for even more bubble fun.

  • Most kids love to play in bubbles. Provide some pipe cleaners and let the kids make their own bubble wands in different shapes so they can see how it changes the bubbles. More information on this project can be found at Voices.
  • Let the kids mix up their own bubble juice by following the recipe on Crafts for Kids.
  • Did you know that the kids can actually paint with bubbles? The final artwork can be so interesting that you will want to hang it on your wall. Find out how to turn bubbles into painting bubbles on the Art is Basic blog.
  • Snakes in general are probably a little scary for kids and even some adults, but these bubble snakes can be fun for the entire family. Learn how to make rainbow bubble snakes at Housing a Forest.
  • Make different bubble solutions and let the kids make different tools to use in bubble blowing. Some clever ideas can be found on Suite 101.
  • Try this bubble wrap beehive craft project with the kids. You may even have all of the supplies you need at home already! For the supply list go to All Kids Network.
  • You can decorate anything using bubble wrap. Check out the bubble wrap decorated lunch sacks on Skip to My Lou.
  • Let the little ones use various size bubble wrap to create patterns on paper with paint. Once the paper dries they can use this decorated paper to make something else. Check out Mess for Less to see the process.
  • Want to include some anatomy lessons into your craft plans? Try helping the kids make this human body and use things like bubble wrap for the lungs and a long balloon for the intestines. To learn how to do these projects go to Pink and Green Mama.
  • Sugar Lens has found a way to let the kids make bubbles with a straw that can also create art when the bubbles overflow onto the paper.

Wearables

Summer is a time for shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops and sun visors, so why not decorate these items and make them reflect your child’s personality and creativity? Try upcycling a scuffed up pair of flip-flops by covering the thong part with water balloons. This will turn ugly shoes into your child’s favorite pair. More wearable art such as jewelry can be found on these 10 blogs. Take a look at the options and pick something to make this weekend!

  • Create a pair of colorful and comfy fluffy flip-flops with your kids by tying fabric around an inexpensive pair of flip-flops that you can find at the discount store like they did on Spoonful.
  • Help the kids make these stylish craft stick bracelets and let them trade them with their friends. Sample bracelets can be found on Suzy’s Artsy-Craftsy Sitcom.
  • Make these colored beads out of pasta and let the kids whip up some colorful bracelets.  Learn how at My Name is Snickerdoodle.
  • Let the kids get creative with their T-shirts and add a tie-dye effect using Sharpie markers, like the unique shirts shown on Thrifty Mom.
  • Stamp on T-shirts to give them a special one-of-a-kind look. To find out how to make the stamp check out Mom it Forward.
  • Recycle a thrift store T-shirt and make it into a useful tote to take your belongings to the pool or beach this summer. The bag is simple to wash and dry depending on how you embellish it. Take a look at the one on I Love to Craft.
  • Help the kids make a hat for the fourth of July by cutting up a paper plate and decorating it. Find this and other holiday hat ideas on Tip Junkie.
  • Keep the sun out of your eyes by crafting these frog-inspired sun visors. The foam visors can be found inexpensively at the craft store or you can make your own. See the clever hats that were created on Making Friends.
  • Have the kids practice tying knots by making these balloon flip flops. Buy a big container of water balloons and use them for this craft and others all summer long. Read the instructions on Or So She Says.
  • Pick some colors and let the kids get busy making a necklace out of beads and paper straws. See the one created on Creative Green Living to get an idea of how to start.
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