10 arts & crafts activities for the holidays

Reading time: 13 min

Holidays are upon us and there are myriad fun and exciting activities that you do at home with your little ones. There is no need to be an artist, sculptor, horticulturist or mega creative; you can find things around the house that can be made into pieces of art, sustainable initiatives or home décor. In fact, we’ve done some of the work for you and found 10 great ideas with the help of Google.

Spending time with your child is fun and exciting, but the time spent engaging with them as they create has long-lasting benefits. It is a wonderful opportunity to bond and creates memories that will last a lifetime.  It is also essential to introduce your little ones to the joy and wonder of arts and crafts, inspiring creative play that encourages a vivid flourishing imagination and the ability to find beauty and the art of storytelling in the simplest of things.

“Everyone needs a break from child-related challenges to stay sane.”

Juice-Pouch Stomp Rocket (By Ana Dziengel)

juice-pouch-stomp-rocket
Image: https://babbledabbledo.com/

This rocket uses the power of compressed air to launch into the sky.

What you need:

1 flexible straw (that comes with the pouch), empty juice pouch, 1 standard straw, coloured cardstock, decorative tape (optional), modelling clay

What to do:

  1. Snip off the end of the flexible straw at an angle.
  2. Insert the pointed end of the straw into the straw hole of the juice pouch.
  3. Cut the second straw in half. This will be your rocket.
  4. Make three trapezoids from cardstock, in the following dimensions: 3 in. (base) x 1 in. (height) x ¾ in. (top). Set two aside to be full fins. Cut the last one in half vertically.
  5. Tape the full fins on each side of the straw. Don’t flatten the straw.
  6. Tape one half-fin perpendicularly to each full fin as shown. Add decorative tape to decorate the straw if desired.
  7. Roll a small bit of clay into a ball. Add this to the top to seal the straw completely.
  8. To launch the rocket, inflate the pouch by blowing into the flexible straw. Bend the flexible straw to aim and place the rocket straw over the end. Stomp down hard for lift-off!

Enchanting story stones (By Cathy James)

 

story-stones
Image: https://artfulparent.com/story-stones-ideas-storytelling-rocks/

Use smallish, flat pebbles to create story stones, a wonderful way to combine art, language and play. They are a wonderful prompt for your child’s imagination and stories.

What you need:

Pebbles, pencils, wax crayons

What to do:

  1. Decorate the stones with pencils and wax crayons.
  2. You can draw characters, such as people or animals; settings such as a house or a board; and interesting items to add into your stories such as a magic wand or a chest full of gold coins.
  3. You can also create spirals, stripes, rainbows, hearts, solid colours, and words with the wax crayons.
  4. You can use your story stones anywhere: indoors, outdoors, in the bathtub, the water tray and in the sand pit.

Create an amazing felt succulent garden (By Samara Caughey)

felt-succulent-secret-garden
Image: https://artfulparent.com/felt-succulent-garden/

Enjoy a colourful garden with no need to garden!

What you need:

1 terracotta pot or another container of your choice; craft felt in various greens, reds and oranges, etc.; rubber bands, scissors, chalk pastels, rocks, materials for felt succulent

What to do:

  1. Place some rocks in the bottom of the planter filling it about halfway. Set aside for planting.
  2. Cut felt strips into strips about 30 cm long. The width of the felt determines the height of the succulent.
  • If you want to make a tall, floppy, spiky plant then cut some wide felt about 10 cm wide.
  • If you cut little arches, when you roll it up you will have a rose looking succulent.
  • Cut zigzags to get a spiky looking plant.
  • If you cut large, wide petals you’ll get a larger type of rose plant.
  • And some kids just cut a fringe and get a floppy type of plant.
  1. Once you have shaped your strip of felt, roll it up as tightly as possible. Place a rubber band around the bottom of the roll, at the end that you did not cut. Now you have your little succulent!
  2. Plant the felt succulents in your planter and make another one. Some children make one plant and some will make seven and squeeze them all in. Once you have all the finished felt succulent plants, place the rocks in tightly around the felt to secure them.

Recycled self-portrait collage (By Joanna Walker)

recycled-self-portrait-collage
Image: https://artfulparent.com/self-portrait-collage/

A fun and educational activity for kids that helps them explore self-identity.

What you need:

Cardboard packaging and tubes, etc., glue, scissors, brown paper bag, mirror

What to do:

  1. Draw oval face shape on a piece of brown paper or a paper bag.
  2. Cut out face shapes.
  3. Encourage them to create a face out of cardboard. Older children can cut out some of their own facial shapes, while younger children may want to have some pre-cut shapes that they can glue on.
  4. Lay out pieces for the self-portrait collage before gluing them onto the paper.
  5. Once the pieces are cut out, the children are ready to add the facial features to the oval on the brown paper bag.

Nature-inspired fabric bunting (By Sarah Olmsted)

nature-inspired-fabric-bunting-for-kids
Image: https://artfulparent.com/fabric-bunting/

This lovely little nature-inspired bunting is the perfect way to introduce a new subject through a fun craft. This project easily accommodates many different ages and skill levels.

What you need:

White cotton fabric; assorted patterned and coloured scrap fabric; ribbon or colourful string; needle and thread, stamp pad or fabric paint, animal and nature books or pictures

What to do:

  1. First, cut triangles of white fabric that are approximately the size you need; choose how big or small you wish. Cut as many as you’d like on the bunting. Then cut out the same number of triangles from the patterned and coloured fabrics but size them up.
  2. Grab your favourite nature study guides and explore their pages for plants and animals of interest. Learn about where these plants grow, where the animals live, what they eat, etc.
  3. Paint or draw on your bunting, or use stamps.
  4. When you have all of the triangles decorated, sew them to the alternating coloured backing triangles, leaving the edges raw.
  5. Cut two strips of fabric for each triangle. Fold these in half and secure the loops to each side with a few stitches. This is where your ribbon or string will go through.
  6. Thread your ribbon or string through the loops and hang your bunting.

Magnetic building set with cardboard (By Jean Van’t Hul)

cardboard-magnetic-building-set
Image: https://artfulparent.com/diy-magnetic-building-set-cardboard/

Build modern abstract sculptures in all kinds of fun configurations and explore magnetic properties and build in ways that are not possible with regular building blocks.

What you need:

Corrugated cardboard*, utility knife, hot glue gun (to be used under parental supervision), paint (optional), magnetic tape, adhesive, scissors

What to do:

  1. First, you’ll make your 3D cardboard shapes. Use a utility knife to cut cardboard strips against the grain. (You want the corrugation lines to run across the width of the cardboard strip). Cut the cardboard pieces about 5 cm by 30 cm.
  2. Fold your cardboard strip into your desired shape, such as a triangle, square, rectangle or trapezoid.
  3. Now that you have your fold marks, run a line of hot glue along one edge of the cardboard strip and then fold the cardboard back into shape, holding the two ends together for 30 seconds or so until the glue hardens.
  4. Repeat with more cardboard strips and shapes. Make as many as you like! You can experiment with different shapes and sizes, too.
  5. Now, apply your magnetic tape to the cardboard shapes. To do so, cut a section of the magnetic tape (perhaps 5 cm long depending on the size of the cardboard piece you’re applying it to). Bend the magnetic tape against its natural curvature to flatten it out, then remove the paper backing, and press the adhesive side to one side of the cardboard shape. You can add the magnet strips to one or all sides of the cardboard shapes as desired.
  6. Paint your cardboard building blocks. Be careful to paint around the magnets, which is why it is recommended you paint your shapes first and then apply the magnets.

Toothpick sculptures for kids (By Jean Van’t Hul)

cranberry-toothpick-sculpture
Image: https://artfulparent.com/cranberry-and-toothpick-sculptures/

Have fun with this simple construction project

What you need:

Marshmallows, toothpicks, colourful beads or fruit (cranberries in the picture)

What to do:

  1. Thread beads/fruit through the toothpicks and poke into soft marshmallows and create unique stick sculptures.
  2. Gobble up your marshmallows when done!

Homemade paper (By Stephanie Sims)

diy-homemade-paper
Image: http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/homemade-paper/

A great way to recycle old paper is to make new paper!

What you need:

Materials, picture frame and screen, used paper, decorations (flowers, seeds, leaves, vegetable and fruit scrap), food colouring or paint, water, tub or bowl, blender, shallow basin, towel or sponge

What to do:

  1. Take an old picture frame and staple a screen to it tightly. You can also shape an old wire hanger into a square and slip an old pantyhose to use as a mould.
  2. Gather paper ingredients. Look through your recycling bin or around the house for any paper you can reuse. Used colouring pages, envelopes, junk mail, wrapping, tissue and copy papers will all work well for this project. Collect vegetable or fruit scraps and plant materials.
  3. Tear papers into small pieces and soak in a tub or bowl of water for a few hours or overnight. If you’re in a hurry, soak paper in boiling water for 30 to 60 minutes. Fill a blender three-quarters full with water. Add a handful of wet paper into the blender. Blend paper until there are no large pieces left.
  4. Fill a shallow basin such as a plastic container or a cookie sheet with water and the pulp. Stir the mixture and add decorations – plant fibres, food colouring or paint, etc. Dip the frame into the mixture and swish the frame around to get an even amount of pulp on the screen. Set the frame on the edge of the basin to let the paper drip-dry. After a few minutes use a towel or sponge to blot away as much liquid as possible. Place the paper face down on a towel or felt. Gently lift the screen. If the paper is stuck, start to peel off the paper at the edges. If the paper is still too wet, cover the paper with another towel and use a rolling pin to remove the excess water. Let the paper dry completely.

Soda bottle compost (By Rachel Lister)

soda-bottle-compost
Image: https://busymommymedia.com/science-for-kids-soda-bottle-compost/

If you are thinking about planting a garden, then learning about how to create compost is a great place to start.

What you need:

Empty 2-litre plastic bottle, soil, leaves, grass, newspaper, spoiled produce, and anything else you can find in your home

What to do:

  1. Cut the top off a bottle and rinse it out well. Remove the label so that you can see everything inside the bottle well.
  2. Start with a layer of soil on the bottom and alternate between soil and compostable material. You can use just about any plant matter. We had some peas that were getting mushy in our fridge, so we threw those in with some dead leaves, and grass. Shredded newspaper is great in here, too.
  3. When your soda bottle has been filled, add water so it can start composting. You don’t want it to be sitting in water but you do want it to be damp all the way through.
  4. Let your compost sit for several weeks in a spot where it will get plenty of sun and won’t be tipped over.

Plastic cup mini greenhouses (By Jen Kossowan) 

plastic-cup-mini-greenhouse
Image: https://www.cbc.ca/parents/play/view/plastic-cup-mini-greenhouses

Watching a tiny seed transform into a little sprout and eventually, a plant that’s big enough to be transferred outdoors is such a magical process for little ones.

What you need:

Coloured plastic cups, clear plastic cups that are slightly smaller or larger than your coloured cups, tacks, potting soil, seeds (try to choose something with a short germination period), water, supplies to make mini greenhouses

What to do:

  1. Use the tack to poke several holes in the bottom of your coloured cup. This will allow for some drainage, should your plants be overwatered.
  2. Fill your cup nearly to the top with potting soil and pat it down gently.
  3. Carefully place your seeds in your soil-filled cup, making sure to leave some space between each one. You can plant as few or as many as you like, but usually use three to five seeds per greenhouse is sufficient.
  4. Give your seeds some water using a spray or squeeze bottle. This gives little ones more control and avoids big spills and overwatering disasters.
  5. Place your clear cup over your solid coloured cup to form a greenhouse. This will lock in the moisture and warmth, allowing your seeds to germinate quickly, while still allowing you to see what’s going on inside. Place your greenhouses on a tray and put them near a window that will get lots of light.
  6. Now all that’s left to do is to keep a close eye on your greenhouses! Add a little water every day or two and it won’t be long before you see some little sprouts popping up. Good luck!

The options for budget-friendly home activities are endless: try the good old hide-and-seek, make a puppet theatre, splash in the pool, build tree houses in the garden, play cops and robbers, create a family photo scrapbook (either in hard copy or on the computer), plant a herb garden, bake yummy cupcakes and playing dress-up with mom’s wardrobe!

Also read:

8 ways to grow environmentally aware children
9 tips for cultivating green munchkins