Is it possible to make something out of nothing? As any parent who has ever had to pull together dinner after forgetting to go to the store knows, yes, it is absolutely possible. It is even possible to create family-friendly craft projects out of stuff you have laying around the house.
And just like you pulled that spaghetti carbonara out of thin air, you can come up with some great kids’ crafts the same way — without any bank-breaking trips to Michaels, without a neatly organized crafting room and without even leaving your yard.
So, pull out some simple household items and get your creative juices flowing. Here are eight family-friendly craft projects that you can make right now (today!) without any trouble.
This is such a fun project, year round, as long as you have a little outdoor space or a nearby park. The challenge? Make a dwelling so tiny and wonderful that you convince a fairy to move into your backyard. No need to get fancy here — the more rustic the better.
Try using twigs, moss, pine cones (take them apart to create shingles), bark, leaves and rocks for an environmentally friendly, non-messy craft. We’re particularly partial to Red Ted Art’s teepee version. In winter climes, attract a snow fairy by creating mini-igloos using snow and icicles.
Is it pouring outside? Fight the rain by constructing Lille Punkin’s macaroni rainbows with a few items that almost every house with kids has: paper plates, string, buttons, cotton balls, water-based paint and dry macaroni.
These colorful and cheery crafts help toddlers with their fine motor skills but can be enjoyed by older kids, too. Plus, they hang easily in windows (and unlike macaroni necklaces, you don’t have to wear them).
Rock garden caterpillar
If you have some rocks around, you can transform them into a cute caterpillar for your garden or windowsill in just a few steps and one fun afternoon. You should easily have both of the other supplies at hand: some glue and some craft paint (colorful Sharpies work just as well, but for heaven’s sake, keep track of the caps).
Find NellieBellie’s full tutorial for rock garden caterpillars here.
Making a real crown of flowers is pretty tough without some floral wire (and we are not going to the craft store, remember?), but you can make a great-looking flower crown for kids using nothing more than a paper bag and some duct tape (or masking tape works fine, too).
You can use real flowers if you have them — even dandelions will do — or you can cut out and color your own with paper, markers, glitter or whatever crafts you do have on hand.
Anyone who has been a parent for long enough knows to stockpile their cardboard paper towel and wrapping paper tubes, sometimes literally for a rainy day.
Buggy and Buddy’s rainstick is super easy and creates a “toy” that can occupy kids long after they finish crafting it. All you need is the aforementioned tubes, some paint, something to make the rain (almost any dried bean or grain works), yarn, rubber bands and pipe cleaners.
As a bonus, the kids can decorate the outside of their tube with whatever is around: stickers, paper, markers or more.
DIY spin art
You’ve probably seen spin art machines at the store. They can be cool, but they require money and storage space. If you already have a salad spinner, though, you really don’t need anything else to have a good time making cool spin art at home. You can thank DIY Candy’s brilliant hack for that!
Just make sure to put down some newspapers to keep things tidy, and give your salad spinner a good cleaning before you wash that arugula for dinner.
Muffin tin crayons
This project from Our Best Bites doesn’t just use household items that you have — it makes them way better. Create crazy crayons out of all of your old and tired ones! It’s as simple as removing the old wrappers, chopping them up, putting them in fun cookie tins and melting them in the oven.
Bonus? You get two great rainy-day activities out of one. First, your kids will have fun making their new, recycled rainbow crayons, and then they’ll have fun using them.
If it’s not the dead of winter, and if you have a plastic bottle in the recycling bin, you can take the afternoon to create Adirondack Girl at Heart’s soda bottle terrarium with your kids. Just cut the bottle in two, place some rocks in the bottom for drainage, layer some dirt and then get creative.
Consider adding items like moss, rocks or tiny fairy houses (see craft No. 1) for added interest. This craft is ideal if you lack even the most basic crafting supplies like paint or markers — and it looks fabulous on your windowsill when you’re done.