20 Fun and Easy Summer Crafts for Kids
Ah, the summer time warp. On the one hand, it feels so short (“We’ve only been to the beach twice!”) but on the other, it seems to never end (especially when the words “I’m bored” play on repeat). While we can’t help you squeeze in more time in the sand, we do have some ideas for keeping little hands occupied. Check out our roundup of summer crafts for kids and your time will be spent soaking up your child’s artistic skills while sipping sangria, from now till the start of the school year.
1. DIY Dinosaur Eggs
There’s no better way to appeal to the toddler crowd than with a project that involves construction and destruction. That’s one reason why this craft is a keeper and here’s another: All it requires is some air drying clay and a handful of dinos. (Bonus: While the plastic creatures are in their clay eggs, they won’t be underfoot.) You can even enhance the entertainment for your budding archeologist by hiding these unhatched dinosaurs for an off-season egg hunt. The overnight drying time lends itself to a scavenger hunt but no judgment if you keep it simple and skip that step—this clay-molding craft provides plenty of creative, sensory fun on its own.
2. Grass Head Men
Celebrate the season with a truly enriching, kid-friendly craft that requires little more than some composting dirt and a handful of seeds. When your child is done crafting, he’ll have an all-earth, googly-eyed sock puppet that sits in a pot and grows its own green hair. Your kid can even trim that grassy mop (which means that Barbie can get a break from the deranged hairdresser in your home).
3. DIY Paper Helicopter
We love a good paper airplane. The only problem? Ours never fly. Enter the real deal of aerodynamic crafting. It takes precious few materials to make these paper helicopters and they definitely deliver on their promise to take flight (even after being bedazzled by a child). Best of all, this DIY is simple enough to invite kid participation—so parents, relax, you definitely don’t need an engineering degree to pull this one off.
4. Patriotic DIY Bubble Wands
Is it just us, or do the wands that come with store-bought bubble solutions never really work? Solve the problem and kill some time on a summer day by getting your kid to help you craft a better one. You and your child can MacGyver a bubble wand that scores high on both form and function with materials found at the dollar store. The steps are simple so there’s minimal risk of a meltdown. In fact, the most likely outcome of this project is a finished product that will make your kid bubble over with pride.
5. Painted Newspaper Sunflower Craft
The sight of a bold, beautiful sunflower is so summery. Different techniques and materials are used at every stage of this colorful craft, so there’s a suitable job for every child, regardless of skill level. (Preschoolers can practice cutting while toddlers hang out in watercolor heaven, too busy to care about sharp objects.) No matter who does what, this paper craft promises to provide a stimulating, sensory experience for all involved—and a finished flower that’s worthy of its place on the wall, too.
6. Chalk Ice
You might prefer a piña colada on a white sand beach but sidewalk chalk on a summer day is paradise for pint-sized people. Erm, unless the novelty wears off and your little one realizes the weather isn’t just sunny, it’s sweltering. If that happens, break for a quick craft and make the familiar medium magical again. Chalk ice is easy to make and the pay-off is huge: a popsicle that encourages outdoor creativity as soon as it hits the pavement, so your kiddo can cool down with art (and you can skip the sugar rush).
7. Pool Noodle Painting
Even if you don’t have an actual pool, stop by the seasonal section next time you’re at the store and pick up a few noodles—these summertime staples have major crafting potential. Case in point: this pool noodle painting project that encourages open-ended creativity and provides plenty of engagement as kiddos get to try out a new technique. We suggest you set up the paints and noodles outside, since this kind of process art can be a bit messy (especially with tiny tots). But once the painting is underway, your work is done. Park yourself in a lounge chair and admire your youngster’s Jackson Pollock.
8. DIY Ring Toss
Help your kid cut some paper plate rings and give them a paper towel tube, then bust out the tempera for a painting project that even the youngest ones can take part in. Don’t sweat it if the paint job is all the same shade of brown because your kid hasn’t mastered the skill of color-mixing just yet. This art project is more functional than the average scrapbook material since, once the paint dries, the resulting ring toss game hones motor skills and makes for even more fun. Three cheers for a craft that keeps on giving.
9. Pirate Pool Noodle Boats
When the days are steamy, you can (and should) seek relief in the air-conditioned sanctuary that is your home—just be sure to have an enticing project up your sleeve so you can stay one step ahead of the young and the restless. When it comes to convincing your kid to come in and cool down, this clever boat making craft is your best bet. You might need to make a trip to the store if you don’t have a pool noodle, but otherwise the supplies are few and easy to find. Once you have the materials on hand, help your child assemble a simple ship that really sails (or at least floats, in the absence of wind). Best of all, once this mess-free craft is completed on the couch your kiddo can try out the new toy in the bathtub—giving you the ideal excuse to wash off the day’s dirt and grime.
10. Abstract Window Art
This creative window craft serves up a new way to enjoy the summer sun, sans the UV rays. This is a process art project—meaning that there are no rules or complicated steps—so your little one’s creativity can really shine through. Brightly colored, transparent contact paper and a pair of scissors are the only supplies your child needs to design a masterpiece that looks like stained glass and dances in the summer sun.
11. Easy Bird Finger Puppets
The only thing that will entertain your daughter more than watching you turn your index finger into a talking toucan is an invitation to participate in the puppet-making process. Luckily, your kid can have it all, because this paper craft comes together with nothing more than crayons and a piece of paper. You might have to handle the origami, but after a little folding, she can decorate to her hearts’ content.
12. Glitter Seashell Photo Frame
Watch your child’s beach day collection come together with glitter and glue to form a sparkly photo frame, just waiting to be filled with a sentimental summer snapshot. Scrapbookers will relish this kid-friendly craft—and the same goes for anyone who has ever wondered what to do with all those shells if you can’t actually sell ‘em by the seashore. The construction of the frame is easy but it calls for a hot glue gun, so this project is best tackled by an older child with parent supervision. (Though when it comes to dousing the shells with glitter, even tots can safely take part—and excel.)
13. DIY Dandelion Crown
Nature collections are a common result of an outdoor romp with children, so why not turn their treasures into wearable art when you get home? Next time you take a trip to the park, have your little one gather as many yellow dandelions as she can get her hands on. Then, work together to string the flowers together for an original piece of jewelry. The process is straightforward, but expert crafters have some sage advice that will spare you the frustration of splitting stems with your fingernails (and botching the job). Sometimes a simple craft is all you need to make summer memories—so be sure to snap a photo of your kid wearing the crown before it wilts.
14. DIY Tie Dye Beach Towels
Haven’t you heard? Tie-dying is all the rage right now so if you haven’t tried your hand at it yet, it’s high time to start. Grab a plain white beach towel, a pair of gloves and your child for an afternoon craft that will brighten up your next beach day. Groovy, baby.
15. Watermelon Matching Game
Combine crafting and watermelon and you have the best way, hands-down, to trick a child into learning math in the middle of summer vacation. This easy art project can be tailored to suit a wide age-range of tiny artists because kiddos can decorate their construction paper watermelon cut-outs with a variety of age-appropriate materials. But parents, you might want to supervise when it comes to embellishing the watermelons with seeds since they’re an important part of the final product—a matching game, which can be adapted to focus on basic visual perception skills, or more sophisticated counting and math.
16. DIY Ladybug window clings
Window art that won’t empty a Windex bottle in a week—what’s not to love? You’ve probably encountered these stretchy, rubbery window decals at the dollar store, but it turns out they’re actually really easy to make. Pull out some colorful puffy paint and have your kid help with the cutting and designing of this adorable collection of ladybug appliqués. Bonus: This art is reusable, so there's plenty more fun to be had when your child moves these summer bugs from room to room.
17. Recycled plastic lid wind chime
It’s no secret that kids can make magic happen with nothing more than a cardboard box. Capitalize on that creativity with this DIY wind chime project, which uses only the stuff you can scavenge from your recycling bin (plus some paints and glitter to make it snazzy). This lesson in sustainability comes in the form of a multimedia art project that explores both aesthetics and sound. Best of all, this project is stimulating enough to keep big kids engaged and simple enough for the little ones, too. Once the craft is complete, hang it outside—no matter which way the wind blows, the chimes will look lovely and make beautiful music to boot.
18. Squirt Gun Ocean Art
The key to a successful summer day lies in the seamless transition between indoor and outdoor fun, which is no small feat if you have a toddler. Fortunately, this ingenious process art project makes it easy to shift gears. Start with a little indoor art using an array of supplies (permanent marker, oil pastel and watercolor crayons) and then carry the work outside for a squirt gun standoff. The boldly colored outlines (or scribbles) will blend into a sun-dappled abstraction—and mama won’t get sprayed in the process.
19. Balloon Splatter Painting
Water balloon fights are fun, but they can get a bit savage. When you’re looking for something equally entertaining but a little less aggressive, set your kids up with this summertime craft. These paint-filled balloons are sure to please kids of all ages—plus, clean up will be a breeze so long as you take the activity outdoors.
20. Smiley Sun Popsicle Stick Weaving Craft
After the fifth popsicle, it’s probably time for all parties to take a break from the heat—but save those sticks. Even though you’ve retreated into the cool comfort of your home, you can still worship the sun with this weaving craft. The preschool crowd and beyond can get in on the fun of wrapping vibrant yellow and orange yarn around a sun-shaped loom, and the googly-eyes are seriously cute.