Crafts for kids who suddenly have lots of time on their hands

With schools closed and many parents working remotely, families stuck at home together need to keep their kids happily occupied to avoid a total deep dive into Disney+, Minecraft or Fortnite.

Arts and crafts can help, but supplies may be limited, so here are five projects that mostly use items families may already have at home.

Jackson Pollock in the Backyard

Emilie Adams, mother to an 8-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy, lives in Soho, but for now is holing-up in the Catskills with her family, two dogs and a pet rabbit named Dennis Hopper.

There, Adams, a doula and lactation consultant, cooks up crafts to keep her children from going stir-crazy. “The kids feel like they are on a big adventure,” she says. “They are missing social interaction with their friends and classmates, but they are holding up well.”

The two kids have long waited to decorate a pair of sneakers, so she ordered each of them a pair of white canvas ones, gave them a rainbow of Sharpies and let them have at it. “They are being very thoughtful and taking time with this one,” she says.

During the first week of schools being closed, she also set up this fun outdoors-only painting project. “It’s super fun and creates wonderful art,” she says. “The kids got messy and ended up straight in the shower, but they loved it. “

Supplies: Paint (water colors, tempera, whatever you have); paint trays; posterboard or any large sheets of paper, brushes, little cups, water pistols, squirt bottles, balls, Koosh balls (stringy rubber balls).

How to: Fill trays with paint. Outside, put posterboards or paper on the ground. “Go full-on Jackson Pollock and just throw and drip paint,” says Adams. “Roll balls in paint and throw them or roll them on the paper, dribble paint with brushes, flick the brushes, splash paint with cups, put liquid watercolors in a squirt gun and spray away,” says Adams.

Dinosaur World Dioramas

For Lisa Ervin, a freelance art director and graphic designer in East Williamsburg, arts and crafts is a creative outlet for herself and her two boys: Wade, 4, and Vaughn, 2. “Crafting is hands-on problem solving, especially when materials are limited,” she says.

Her boys are entering the dinosaur-loving age and wanted to give their own toy dinos an “island.”

After a walk in the New York Botanical Garden earlier this month, she says, “We were inspired to make nature books and dioramas. My kids enjoyed picking up rocks, fallen flowers and acorns as we were walking.”

She also has a junk bin filled with all sorts of surprises. “We are always just winging it and making do with what we have around,” she says.

Supplies: White glue (Mod Podge sealer/glue optional); a wood block; tissue paper; artificial moss; fabric trees or flowers; plastic dinosaurs; plant-shaped cupcake toppers; twigs and rocks — whatever’s on hand. “This project could also be done with no craft supplies — just with cardboard, paint, real grass, moss, rocks etc.” she says. For a waterfall/dinosaur pond, use a shadow box, blue tissue paper and rocks.

How to: Adhere tissue paper to wood block with Mod Podge or glue; glue moss on top, then add another layer of Mod Podge on top to seal flaky moss; glue on rocks and flowers; use tissue to create leaves for twigs and glue them on; adhere twigs — use rocks to support them until dry; give kids the dinos and play.

Piggy Bank

With schools closed, Gael Delehanty, who lives with her family in Dumbo, says, “Staying creative is going to be key. We’ve been enjoying drawing lessons online and other art-driven sanity keepers, like making a brightly colored schedule,” says Delehanty, who has two daughters, aged 4-years-old and 9 months.

As for the piggy bank, there was no pattern. “I just knew to save the bread crumb tin for ‘something’ and then remembered that the baby had recently broken the piggy bank,” she says.

Supplies: A bread crumb container for the head, paper towel tube for the nose and tail, construction paper for ears and eyes (or use plastic eyes if you’ve got ’em); hot glue gun or white glue; tempera paint; Mod Podge. “The blue bow is a piece of pinched tissue paper; the pink one on the tail is one of my daughter’s hair clips that she added as a finishing touch,” says Delehanty.

How to: Paint the breadcrumb container, paper towel tube and a piece of paper your favorite shade of pink and allow to dry; trim about 1 inch of tube to use as nose and 3 inches for tail; starting at one end, cut the 3-inch piece into a spiral; cut two identical curved triangles from paper to use as ears, then cut two slots on one side to fold in on one another to create a cone; attach with glue; seal with Mod Podge (optional); add accessories and eyes; cut coin slot in plastic lid.


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