Summer Sanity Savers: 40 ideas for homemade games, activities and crafts

Keep your child busy and happy as you help him unleash his creativity. From homemade rockets to glowing play dough, newspaper hockey sticks to yarn art, here are 40 ideas for original and inexpensive do-it-yourself fun for kids of any age.

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  • Summer is the perfect time to unleash children's creativity and help them invent their own fun. Here's a list of 40 ideas for original and inexpensive do-it-yourself games, activities and crafts for kids of any age.

  • Make your own slip and slide

  • Lay out a shower curtain or plastic table cloth on your lawn (preferably on a small slope.) Spray with shaving cream or water and play!

  • Make a giant jigsaw puzzle

  • Mount a poster to stiff paper. Draw puzzle piece shapes on the back and cut it out. Have fun assembling!

  • Make soap carvings

  • If you are using blades go over proper safety practices.

  • Make a tent

  • Get creative using tension rods, shower curtains, willow branches, bamboo and canvas or a hula hoop and curtains.

  • Make a bowling alley

  • Fill 2-litre bottles with two inches of sand. Knock down the “pins” with a large plastic ball. Table bowling can be played with empty yogurt containers stacked up and a rolled up sock for a ball.

  • DIY home decor

  • Make a hula-hoop rug or learn how to do latch-hook.

  • Make your own playdough

  • Make salt dough, peanut butter playdough, cornstarch playdough, glowing playdough or Jell-O playdough.

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  • Have fun with science

  • Make rock candy, a film canister rocket, an erupting volcano or another science experiment.

  • Make a mobile

  • Make a heartstrings mobile or change it up and create a photo mobile, stringing up copies of photographs of your family or special someone.

  • Make personalized placemats

  • Place photos in a protective scrapbook sleeve and decorate with stickers and glitter glue.

  • Have fun with duct tape

  • Make a braided duct tape bracelet, wallet, flower pen or anything your child can imagine using duct tape.

  • Make your own postcards

  • Photograph local historic sites or landmarks and send them to a friend.

  • Bird watch

  • Make birdfeeders from pinecones rolled in peanut butter and then in birdseed. Hang it near a window and watch for birds.

  • Homemade hockey

  • Make your own hockey sticks using rolled up newspapers reinforced by duct tape. Use a small ball for a puck and try to hit between goals.

  • Art projects

  • Make a picture by coloring with white crayons on white paper. Discover what has been drawn by painting over the picture with blue watercolor.

  • Life-sized self-portraits

  • Have your child lie down on a piece of poster paper and trace around him. Cut in triple layers. Add facial features with paint, buttons and yarn. Staple two layers and stuff with newspaper. Dress figures with clothing.

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  • Make a “smelling board.”

  • Drop flavorings and spices on to cotton balls and glue them to a board. Try to guess the smell while blindfolded.

  • Make a concentration card game

  • Using two photo of each family member or ancestor.

  • Make a tie-dye T-shirt

  • Make an edible fish tank

  • Prepare blue Jell-O and let it soft set in a clear container. Add gummy fish. Refrigerate and enjoy!

  • Make a homemade pin

  • Fill a plastic spoon with plaster of Paris; insert a safety pin and allow to dry. Remove from spoon and decorate with markers or paint.

  • Make a sand collage

  • Make your own colored sand. Squirt glue on paper and sprinkle with sand.

  • Make a musical instrument with

  •  pipes using different levels of water in plastic bottles; tambourines with dried beans inside a plastic Easter egg or paper plate folded in half and stapled shut; cymbals with pot lids and a spoon; drums with an empty tin can and plastic lid.

  • Make sewing cards

  • Color pictures from a coloring book. Attaching them to thick paper and paper-punching holes in the card. Stiffen string by dipping it in melted paraffin wax and thread it through the holes in the card.

  • Make apple or potato prints

  • Cut a shape out of the food and use paint to stamp with.

  • Make paint from lemon juice and water

  • Let your painting dry and tape it to a sunny window. Wait a few days for the picture to appear.

  • Make melted crayon art

  • Peel off paper and use a crayon sharpener or vegetable peeler to make shavings out of old crayons. Sandwich a drawing covered by crayon shavings in between two pieces of wax paper. Cover the wax paper with a towel and use a low-heat iron to melt crayon shavings and seal the sheets of wax paper together.

  • Make puppets

  • Use socks, paper cups, mittens, paper sacks or a wooden spoon.

  • Make stained glass yarn art

  • Cut several lengths of colored yarn and soak them in glue made from 2 Tbsp. craft glue and 2 Tbsp. water. Press the yarn pieces to colored tissue paper, creating the desired design. Let it dry and trim tissue from edges. Hang the designs in front of a window or make a mobile.

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  • Make a collage

  • Use buttons, dried flowers, cotton balls, eggshells, feathers, glitter, pennies, toothpicks, lace, trim or fabric.

  • Make your own tablecloth

  • Cover the table with brown paper or an inexpensive plastic covering. Use markers or paint to create your own unique design.

  • Make snow cones

  • Crush ice and scoop it into cups. Pour juice or flavored syrup over the ice and enjoy.

  • Make hand-pulled taffy

  • Make up your own recipe

  • Experiment with ingredients and measurements. Try it out and share it.

  • Make a batch of “Fluffy Stuff”

  • out of shaving cream and let the kids loose!

  • Make a necklace

  • Use colored pasta, beads, or loop cereal.

  • Make a batch of slime

  • Make a sandcastle

  • Use sand or make “moon sand” by adding 1 cup of baby oil to 8 cups of flour.

  • Make a slide

  • flattening out a large box and place it over the stairs. Or, slide down the stairs in your sleeping bag.

  • Make personalized pillowcases

  • Decorate an inexpensive case with fabric paint. Sew a small pocket on a pillowcase to make it a Tooth Fairy pillowcase.

  • Choose an activity a day or place individual suggestions in a jar and let the kids be surprised at what they find. Boredom be gone!

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Gail Sears is the mother of five children and resides in Georgia. She is an experienced teacher and public speaker with a passion for education and the arts.

 

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