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Summer Outdoor Craft Ideas for Kids
Fun for all, all for fun. Chances are you are like most other families who are in the perpetual search for activities which will please their kids who are of varying gender or age. Summer outdoor crafts which appeal equally to all offspring are certainly no exception. What seems fun and cool to one is another's definition of dull and boring. Therefore, as parents, we treasure those activities which somehow are able to captivate a wide audience from beginning to end. Activities which will be finished with enthusiasm by all rather than leave you in the dust long before clean-up begins.
ARTS & CRAFTS: The Full Body Experience
Summer Outdoor Fun Approved by Three Boys
I speak from the perspective of a mother with three boys: ages 8, 6 and 3. Experience tells me that by and large (1) the messier the project the better, (2) hands-on creations lead to bigger satisfaction, and (3) the ability to use (or display) the final product is considered the ultimate reward. A boy's idea of fun is really quite simple regardless of age: "let me get my hands dirty and you'll have my attention".
The following are three summer outdoor crafts that we have brought to life in our own backyard with much success and delight. These are merely intended to be 'kid-approved' idea starters as the web is already an abundant source for specific instructions on similar projects. They have a special seal of approval as they have been tested by my three boys.
Boys Love Making Tie Dye T-shirts
Even though I spend most of my days trying to get stains out my boys' clothes, tie-dying remains an activity that is as timeless as it is ageless. People have been tie-dyeing for centuries, but somehow the idea is still fresh and exciting. Perhaps because it is so messy for the kids. And perhaps because as Moms, we can finally relinquish clothes with stains that will not budge to a higher purpose than rags.
Having an outdoor space is an absolute must. Any piece of wardrobe is a go. Cotton wear is must, but items from head (t-shirts) to toe (socks) are a go. Tie-dying kits are widely available at craft stores, but often also abundant at garage sales for a fraction of the price. And if eco-friendly is more your style, tie-dying is still for you. Think Kool-Aid, onion skins and rhubarb. All make excellent, all natural, dyes.
Boys Love Constructing Old-School Windchimes
Summer time often brings lots of wind to the Bay Area. This can often bring outdoor activities to a screeching halt, but not if the activity entails constructing a wind chime. The applications are many here, but our favorite is a simple chime made with old silverware or keys. Boys (and Mom) get to use some (power) tools in the assembly, which is always a bonus. And, each child has a chance to put their own creative spin into their final product by varying the number and types of items used in the chime.
The wind chimes can be beautifully displayed by hanging it from a tree in the backyard, but we have found the best spot to be the one which can be enjoyed from our dinner table. And when the season changes, the wind chime will most certainly make a smooth transition into the kids bedroom and become a favorite decor.
Boys Love Doing Art in the Yard
This idea is best if first tested in someone else's yard, so as to minimize the mess in your own. All jokes aside, our family was wholeheartedly inspired by the folks at CHAP (Children's Healing Art Project) who operated an open studio art factory in Portland, OR which we enjoyed during a recent summer trip. Kids are outfitted with a paint smock and a brush and are read the rules upon check-in. Or rule (singular) is more like it: they may paint anywhere in the art studio except for the floor (oh yes, I forgot, and the doorknobs, as we found out by trial and error). Windows, chairs, tables, and couches are all fair game.
This fun can be re-created in your own back yard with the use of washable paints and any one of the following 'painting rules': brushes are only allowed on a designated old sheet draped from a clothes line as a canvas, on a sectioned portion of the fence, or perhaps on an old home fixture (think toilet, bathtub, mirror) temporarily placed outdoors. Sit back and enjoy the faces of your kids as they take their art away from paper and on to surfaces that were considered taboo until now.
- Children's Healing Arts Project (CHAP)
Bringing the healing power of art to children and families in crisis.