How easy is to make your own binoculars? Just wrap some duct tape around two toilet paper tubes and add some string. I had the patterned duct tape to really make it fancy. Ha. They just take a minute to make and then you can have all kinds of fun.
Use them to…
- spot flowers, nuts, or leaves on a nature hunt
- look for letters in the grocery store
- go on a color hunt around your house
- get a good look at animals at the zoo
- act out a story about an explorer
- 2 toilet paper tubes
- string or yarn
- duct tape
We’re a little owl-obsessed around our house. So when I saw toilet paper tube owls on Pinterest, I knew we had to try it. The ones I saw were beautiful with intricate designs drawn with black sharpies. Not exactly a project for a three-year-old and a five-year-old. So we improvised. Bring on the googly eyes and foam shapes! These owls are so simple that my daughters made them completely on their own. And isn’t that the best kind of project? They get to learn by creating, then play with their creation. It’s a win-win!
Super simple instructions:
- Fold the top of the tube down. (optional: cut tube to make an owlet)
- Paint tube.
- Glue on eyes and foam (or construction paper) shapes for beak and wings.
- toilet paper roll
- foam shapes (or cut out triangles and ovals from construction paper)
- googly eyes
I love super simple crafts that 1) don’t require me to go to the store to hunt down materials 2) can be completed by a preschooler with minimal help. Some might call it laziness. I call it….okay, laziness. Big Sis and I saw a paper bird in a book and we made some changes and came up with this:
Big Sis’s bird is in front and I like it better than mine. Humph. This is why preschoolers should be doing the crafts and not me.
So here’s how you make your very own symmetry shape bird:
- Cut out large circle and two small triangles from blue paper. Then one more small triangle from yellow paper. To make it easy (and teach symmetry), fold the paper and cut out half of the shape. Unfold to see that both sides are the same. Talk about the line of symmetry.
- Glue the yellow triangle and one blue triangle on top of the circle by lining up the fold lines. Triangles should point opposite ways. Talk about line of symmetry again.
- Turn over.
- Cut other blue triangle in half (on the fold line) to make two wings. Glue on wings (symmetrically of course).
- Draw eyes. Draw lines or marks on the wings and tail. Talk about symmetry and drawing the same thing on both sides.
- Re-fold on the line of symmetry and BAM you are finished! Now let your bird take flight!*
- blue and yellow paper
*Birds are made of paper and will not actually “fly.” But still a fun craft, right?
Do you have some tissue boxes? Let’s make them into monster feet! Last year the girls’ preschool made these and the kids loved them. I like the idea of recycling trash into toys. I also like crafts that are easy enough for kids to make it mostly themselves.
- Cut out the plastic in the top opening of the tissue box. (I did this part.)
- Paint boxes whatever color you want.
- Cut out toes from construction paper and glue to the bottom of the box.
- Optional step: We used a texture brush to do a final coat with sparkly paint.
The end product isn’t perfect, but it is kid-made and they had fun painting.
The scariest monster you’ve ever seen…
- 2 tissue boxes
- construction paper
- texture brush (optional)
Time investment: 15 minutes (plus extra time for the paint to dry)
Difficulty: Elementary kids could it all by themselves, preschoolers might need some help with the cutting.
So over breakfast, I had an idea to make masks (or glasses or goggles or whatever you want to call them) out of an egg carton. It was fast, easy, and didn’t require a lot of supplies. Just the way I like it.
- Cut apart the egg carton in pairs.
- Cut out circles for eyes. We experimented with different sizes for the eye holes. Also, we found that it was helpful to cut a little triangle out for the nose, but it isn’t necessary. Please note my meticulous cutting job.
- Decorate! We used washable tempera paint (after first failing with markers). Stickers would also be a fun idea. And as you can see, stickers would be a lot less messy. How did she get paint on her chin?!
- Glue on a popsicle stick and you’re done! (In case you were wondering why our egg cartons don’t carry a dozen eggs…we lost a pair of glasses in a cutting mishap.)
This project was easy enough for Big Sis to do the cutting, gluing, and painting on her own. Both girls had so much fun that I wanted to try it out, too. Please say you can pick out the one that wasn’t painted by a preschooler.
- egg carton
- popsicle sticks
Time investment: 15 minutes to make them, then a couple hours to let the paint dry
Difficulty: Elementary kids could it all by themselves, little ones need help with cutting.
My friend invited us over for a St. Pat’s crafting playdate. We made a shamrock suncatcher! It is a great project for preschoolers or elementary students. Younger kids might need help cutting or gluing, but they will definitely be able to do the confetti all by themselves!
- two pieces of green scrapbook paper (or green construction paper or cardstock)
- glitter and/or confetti
- wax paper
Time investment: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to do….can be difficult to clean up.
- Trace or freehand draw a shamrock on green scrapbook paper.
- Cut out INSIDE the shamrock and throw away.
- Use the shamrock outline to trace on another sheet of green paper and repeat step 2.
- Glue a piece of wax paper to the green paper with shamrock cut-out.
- Spread glue over the wax paper and sprinkle glitter or confetti on it.
- Glue another wax paper on top so the glitter is trapped between the two wax papers.
- Glue the other green paper on top (make sure the shamrocks line up!)
Need a last minute valentine t-shirt? Or a shirt with a certain color on it for “color day” at school? Or a special shirt for a birthday or any other holiday? Just grab some fabric markers and an old t-shirt and let your kid do the rest! They will be so proud to wear a shirt that they made themselves!
- Put a piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt, so the markers won’t bleed through. An unfolded cereal box works nicely for most kid shirts.
- If your child is a perfectionist, they might want to draw some trial designs on paper first. When they are happy with their design, they can copy it onto the shirt.
- Hold the t-shirt while they draw so it doesn’t move around so much.
- Heat set the t-shirt by ironing the reverse side of the design for 5 minutes or put it in the dryer for 30 minutes on the hottest setting.
- If they want to add more later, no problem! They can fill the whole shirt with pictures, patterns, and words! Just remember to heat set the t-shirt again before you wash it.
- fabric markers
Time investment: 5 minutes or as long as they want to spend on it
Difficulty: Babies can do it. If you let them have markers. And if they have a flair for design.
We had a large box leftover from a recent online order. Boxes, are kid gold, right? You can do anything with a cardboard box! We decided on a puppet theater. I cut a rectangle in the top half. Then I took it to the garage and the girls painted it….pink, of course. Okay, no judgements. I know this is a far cry from the adorable homemade puppet theaters on Pinterest. But my kids are happy with it…so I’m happy with it. After all, this is a KID project.
After the pink dried, I reinforced the seam with some butterfly duct tape (come on- everyone has that around the house, right?) and also covered the edges of the rectangle. Then more painting…purple this time!
The girls love it because they made it themselves. I love it because it is cheap, easy, and I won’t feel bad about using it for a few weeks (or however long they are interested in it) and throwing it out.
And the learning? Oh, it’s there, too! Try acting out a book with puppets after you read it. It is a great way to go over the story for better comprehension. Making up your own puppet show is good exercise in creativity, storytelling skills (that will later be used in writing), and speaking skills.
As a bonus, the girls discovered their theater doubles as a playhouse with the cut-out becoming a door!
I am all about simple crafts. It only takes five minutes and you can use stuff that you already have around the house? Count me in. Bonus if you can do some teaching with the crafting. Oh, it also has to be easy enough for a two-year-old. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
This craft was inspired by the book Snow by Cynthia Rylant, but it would work well with any snow book. It doesn’t discriminate. It’s an all-inclusive craft. 🙂
Step 1: Assemble materials: Q-tips, glue, scissors, and aluminum foil (or wax paper)
Step 2: Teaching time! Look at pictures of snowflakes in the book and count the points. Talk about symmetry and notice how the “arms” are directly across from each other. If you want to google “how do snowflakes form” and do a mini-science lesson, go for it! This is a good place to start.
Step 3: Cut 3 Q-tips in half. More teaching! Use the word half and explain that it is two equal parts. Practice counting by twos.
Step 4: Fun part! Squeeze a puddle of glue about the size of a penny on aluminum foil (or wax paper…whichever you have).
Step 5: Arrange 6 Q-tip halves in glue puddle so they are symmetrical.
Step 6: Let it dry! I just left mine overnight.
Step 7: When the glue is dry, carefully peel it off the foil. I hung my daughter’s snowflake in the window with some white thread.
- 3 Q-tips
- Elmer’s glue
- aluminium foil
Time investment: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Super duper easy.
Here is an easy last minute holiday craft that is perfect gift for grandparents. Who doesn’t love little handprints?
Step 1: Paint your little one’s hand with brown (washable!) paint and make two handprints at the top of the paper. Then immediately wash those hands!
Step 2: Trace your kiddo’s foot on brown paper and cut out. Then glue between the handprints (with the heel at te bottom of the page.)
Step 3: Cut out one red circle and two white circles. Draw smaller black circles on the white paper to make eyes. Glue on the brown paper to make eyes and nose.
I did this reindeer with my two-year-old. I did all the cutting and she did the gluing. Older kids can do the cutting, too. My four year old wanted to draw her eyes on with marker instead of using white paper.
- red, green, brown, and white construction paper
- glue stick
- brown paint
- black marker
Time investment: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy as long as you can keep those brown handprints on the paper and not around your house!