This post was written by someone near and dear to my heart, our afternoon nanny who feels like family. Four afternoons a week Heidi comes to care for our children and home. She brings her lifetime of homeschool experience and passion for hands-on learning each day to enrich our children's lives. A big piece of this is teaching our children handicrafts and inviting them into a world of creativity. Many afternoons I come downstairs to find them in engrossed in a project alongside her. I asked her to share her experience with you all today and I just know you will be blessed by reading this post from "Miss Heidi!"
From birth, every child’s imagination and creativity is growing. We give toddlers things like play dough, kinetic sand, paint, or crayons to show their creativity. By about 6 years old, children are ready to do more craft projects. Here I have compiled a list of craft projects that my siblings and I loved when we were young and crafts that I have loved to introduce to the children that I nanny for.
This is a list of my favorite craft projects for children around the ages of 6-15 and up. These crafts are ones that your children can do while you read to them or while listening to an audio book or audio dramas. They are the best way to teach your child to work with their hands independently and quietly. I love that many come in kits from the craft store with detailed instructions.
This is one of the first projects that I recommend for all kids. Latch Hook kits are easy to find at your local craft store and online. The kits come in a variety of sizes and there are quite a few different designs to choose from. It is an easy beginner craft that can be enjoyed for years as you can make your child’s finished canvas into a decorative pillow or frame it on the wall for them. I would suggest to get a small kit for your child to start with. They can always do another one if they love it.
- Tip 1: Make sure you don’t get a rug hoop kit (these can be fun, just not as easy as a Latch Hook kit), they are similar but not the same.
- Tip 2: Be sure to check your kit and see if the special hook came with it. Most small kits do not have one, but you can find these in store or online.
Cross stitching is by far one of the simplest kits for kids learning how to hand sew. Using aida cloth and a dull needle, these crafts are easy to follow. There are endless designs and pictures to choose from so your child will love to get a picture of their favorite animal, flower, or dessert even! You can also purchase aida cloth and threads separately and find free patterns online or in pattern books. Your child can start their own collection and make them as gifts during the holidays.
- Tip 1: Be sure to choose a small and less detailed pattern for your child’s first cross stitch kit. Finding one with fewer thread colors and a simple design is best.
- Tip 2: Copying and blowing up the pattern makes it easier for the kids to follow along. Using coloring pencils, have your child color the pattern according to the colors of the thread they are using and then cross off each row when they finish it.
Embroidery is the next project after cross stitch. This craft uses actual cloth and a sharper needle. Children learn new kinds of stitches that come in handy for lots of different designs. There are endless patterns you can find online, but also I have found the kits are so easy. I love when the fabric comes preprinted for the child to follow along with. This makes the craft go so much faster. Girls love to feel important working on their sampler – like Laura Ingalls or other girls from their history books.
- Tip 1: I love to teach the girls to do all kinds of stitches and even include their name into their craft. It becomes their sampler and they can frame it and see how their skills have improved as they continue onto other patterns.
- Tip 2: As with most crafts, I believe that each child should keep their first. It is a wonderful thing for them to go back through their projects and see what they were working on and see how they have increased their skills and patience over each project. After their first, they can create what they want on their own and give them away as gifts if they’d like to.
There is an endless supply of leather kits at every craft store. My brothers have really loved finding these and discovering all the cool things they could make. There are kits for leather coin purses, bookmarks, wallets, wrist bands, and key chains. Boys can stamp their leather with the special leather tools and make all sorts of interesting things.
- Tip 1: Have your child save all the tools and scraps that come in their kits. Purchasing a small tool box for them to organize their supplies in makes it fun for their next project.
- Tip 2: We have also found that buying a bag of scrap leather at the craft store ignites kids’ imagination. If they have all the tools they can create whatever they desire with these scraps.
Crocheting is so much fun and you can create so many different projects! It may be tricky at first to teach the proper way to hold the yarn and the hook, but once it clicks, it is amazing! Start your child with a scarf project and then they can move on to something bigger. There are also plenty of beginner kits available that teach the different types of stitches. Pattern books are a great help to those who want to teach themselves. My mom, siblings, and I have made multiple different afghans of all different kinds. From small afghans to giant ones and then on to making clothing, crocheting ideas are endless!
- Tip 1: I love going to the yarn section in any craft store and seeing all the different colors of “Red Heart” yarn. The best way to get your child interested in crocheting is letting them pick out their favorite multi-color yarn and two different solid colors that compliment it. Then they can make their afghan pattern using multiples of threes. So for example, three rows of solid 1 then one row of multi followed by three or five rows of solid 2.
- Tip 2: Starting your child out with a large plastic needle can help them develop better crocheting skills without the frustration. Then moving on to a smaller sized needle for bigger and tighter projects. Don’t worry if their tension changes. It might take a while for them to settle into their own tension and technique. But soon they will be flying through their projects with amazing speed!
Knitting & Loom Knitting
Knitting is actually very easy to learn. There are so many patterns to find online and as with most crafts, there are plenty of videos or pattern books to help your child self-learn. Again the best way to start your child is for them to pick out their yarn and their pattern. My sisters and I have made scarves, vests, and sweaters!
- Tip 1: For first-time knitters, have them make a small sample piece to practice. They learn to cast on, knit, and cast off. They can also practice a few more times so they know what tension to use or try out new stitches. After that, they have more confidence and they can go on to a simple project.
- Tip 2: Besides knitting with needles the traditional way, there are so many kits now for loom knitting. You can get many of these plastic looms in different shapes and sizes and they are best for making scarves and hats.
Painting & Paint-by-Number
Painting is an easy go-to project that is so much fun for kids. Giving kids paper, paint, and brushes will keep them entertained for a long time. You can also find many clay figurines for kids to paint from animals to small houses.
For older kids, paint-by-number kits are quite detailed and a lot of fun. They are great for teaching patience and attention to detail. Kids will love to frame these and put them on their bedroom walls!
Sketching & Drawing
Another quiet project for kids of all ages is sketching. I like books that teach children to draw step by step. Start your child with their very own blank sketch book, a set of good drawing pencils, and a white eraser. Then watch their skills improve as they have a fun! I love watching my brothers do a quick sketch whenever they have the quiet time. They come up with their own characters just for the fun of it.
Stationery & Rubber Stamping
Kids love to work with paper – cutting, gluing, drawing, etc. Supplying them with paper, pens, envelopes, washi tape, and stickers makes it more fun and personal. Rubber stamps are also an exciting way to add to their creativity. Using all different colors of paper, kids can create some pretty cool stationery that they will love to send in the mail to friends and family. They can make thank you cards, birthday cards, note pads, and lists. Growing up, I loved helping my mom make Christmas cards. Rubber stamping and card making was a big part of my childhood and I have a lot of wonderful memories of these crafting days!
Model Kits & 3D Wooden Puzzle Kits
There are so many different kinds of model kits. Wooden ones are quite simple to put together with just wood glue. Then kids can paint them whatever color they want. Another kind of wooden car kit that is a lot of fun to make is a pine derby car.
Wooden 3D puzzle kits are also super cool. Kids will spend hours figuring out how to put these together and make them stay together. This takes some skill and teaches patience while having fun!
Plastic models vehicles are fun for boys of all ages. There are many different kinds from snap together ones that are easy for the kids to do on their own to more expensive ones that require some help from an adult. Needless to say these are priceless treasures that get to be displayed for years to come.
Beading & Loom Beading
Beading is a very easy project for children of all ages. There are thousands of different kinds of beading kits. From bracelets and jewelry making kits to key chain kits the beading ideas are endless!
Loom beading is so much fun for older girls who like to work with seed beads. I remember when I had one on my Christmas wish list for so long and then got it! I spent hours making things with my sister.
Weaving & Basketry
Weaving is a timeless craft for girls to do independently. The simplest project is making potholders with a weaving loom. So many kits are available now that spark creativity in patterns and colors. I was excited to find a bracelet making kit that is perfect for any beginner. If your girls love this, then they may want to level up to making baskets!
The importance of teaching children art and handcrafts
Setting aside a time and place for your kids to sit down and work on their crafts gives them structure. They love when it is story time and they can work on their projects! Giving them their own container to keep their tools, yarn, and supplies in makes things more organized and efficient. It also teaches them to be responsible for their own projects so no pieces are lost. They will appreciate it so much as they continue to watch their project grow and their skills increase.
Children thrive when they work with their hands. It builds confidence and perseverance, teaching them not to give up on something. Many times starting a project can seem overwhelming and that can overshadow the excitement a little. I just encourage them to keep going, be willing to learn from their mistakes, and soon they will see how much they have improved. Before you know it your child can be working away with very little guidance from you.
I hope you enjoyed these crafts and projects and that this list inspired many ideas for your kids! If you have any other ideas, please feel free to comment and let me know. I love to hear what crafts you did as a child and what you are sharing with your children now.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17 NIV
Heidi, aka Adelaide, is a homeschool graduate who through a unique journey became a homeschool teacher and a nanny. Heidi writes about her journey on her blog 'A Basketful of Joy'. She also loves to share lots of ideas, encouragement, and a few more of her family's favorite things. You can usually find Heidi sharing her joy of learning with the big kids through crafts and adventures, snuggling the babies, writing, and reading. She enjoys hearing from others about their homeschool path!