There are all kinds of ways to keep kids occupied during the last lazy days of summer, but many parents like to involve their kids in craft activities as a way to keep their hands and minds active. Of course, this can involve a lot of wasted paper and manufactured products like markers, glitter, and paint that are not exactly environmentally friendly. So parents that want to impart their sustainable ideals to the next generation may find themselves wracking their brains to come up with crafty activities that fit the bill. Luckily, there are all kids of kid-safe products on the market that embody your green sensibilities, and you can always find ways to work in natural items. Here are just a few ideas that are sure to please the kids and meet all of your requirements.
- Greeting cards. One of the easiest crafts to pull off can also be the most eco-friendly (not to mention useful). By using recycled paper, soy or beeswax crayons, and Crayola markers (which use non-toxic ink, are made partially from recycled plastics, and utilize solar power for manufacturing), you can easily create eco-friendly greeting cards. You can also use EcoGlue for crafts (a water-based, non-toxic adhesive) to attach leaves and dried flowers. And while many crafts projects produce nothing more than beautiful baubles meant to decorate a space, greeting cards created by the kids can be sent to family and friends for birthdays, holidays, and other occasions, or given away as gifts.
- Photo frames. This fun craft project can start with a day of treasure hunting at local yard sales to find a variety of inexpensive frames for each child to decorate. While you may have to do some prep work to get the frames in shape for use again (sanding, stapling, and replacing missing glass if necessary), your kids can have fun decorating them to display family photos and artwork in their own rooms or personalizing them for special people in their lives. Kids can glue on fabric scraps from old clothes, mix Real Milk Paint powder with pigments to add color or create an antique finish, and of course, use everything from buttons and bows to twine and pine cones to decorate the frames.
- Mobiles. Many homeowners fail to see the decorating potential of unused space above their heads, so if your kids’ walls are already covered in their artwork and every surface is festooned with crafts, consider going on a nature hike to collect pine cones, leaves, and other “found” art items to create an incredible mobile or wind chime to hang (or simply repurpose disposable items like egg cartons). Use an old, wire coat hanger to fashion the frame and some organic hemp twine to hang items.
- Pinwheels. This fun and easy craft can be used to beautify both interior and exterior spaces, depending on the materials you use (find templates at firstpalette.com). For indoors use, secure recycled paper pinwheels to pencils made from recycled newspaper. And if you want to pep up your garden with some pretty pinwheels that can withstand the elements, get a pack of Preserve Plates to cut and decorate. This “disposable” dinnerware is make with 100% recycled plastic and it’s tough enough to go in the dishwasher, so any plates you have leftover can be used for picnics and BBQs.
- Holiday projects. The fall semester is rife with holidays, starting with Labor Day and going through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all the winter festivities. And while you and the kids will no doubt find plenty of fun things to do as the holidays near, you might not have a lot of time for craft projects once a busy school schedule enter the picture. So if you want to prepare now, have the kids make centerpieces, banners, and other decorations for your home from recycled, sustainable, or all-natural materials.