Thrifty Ideas to do with your little ones?

kid crafts

Got this email today, feel free to pass along any of your ideas,

Hello…first of all, I just wanted to tell you that I love this website and I try to visit everyday for great tips.  I’m a working mom of two very energetic young girls.  One is 5 and one is 22 months old.  I have taken these 2 holiday weeks off to be with them.  I also took the Thanksgiving week off as well in which I had activities planned for every day to keep them “occupied”.  My 5 year old now wants to know what’s on the “agenda” for these upcoming days and really enjoyed having planned activities.  I am wondering if you have any ideas on “thrifty” crafts/activities for kids?  We’ve done the homemade playdough, cookies, cinnamon rolls, snowflakes, etc.  I’m needing new ideas that don’t have a lot of cost involved in supplies…things from around the house.

Below are 9 ideas I found on Free Shipping


1. Chalk Bodies
Get a roll of butcher paper or several pieces of poster board, crayons, markers, and chalk.  Keep the fun contained to the kitchen to avoid a creatively redesigned sofa.  Trace body parts with the markers or crayons, cut out, and then redraw on a concrete surface outside, in the shade of course.  Experiment with different shapes.

2. Color Conundrum
You’ll need a box of lemon Jello and ice cubes frozen with different colors–use food coloring to make red, blue, and green cubes.  Follow the directions for making the recipe with ice and add different colored cubes to your gelatin.  Make predictions as to what color they will be.  Enjoy a cool, fresh treat after the Jello hardens!

3. Percussion Party

Save a few water or soda bottles over a few weeks for this project.  Add rice, beans, pasta, coins, and anything else to each bottle separately.  Glue the lid of each bottle with super glue to prevent a choking hazard.  Practice hitting the bottles on a carpeted surface, shaking them like maracas, or banging together to experiment with various sounds.


4. Macaroni Mania
Noodles are super cheap from a discount store.  Buy three or four varieties along with acrylic gloss paint, craft glue, white primer, and paint brushes.  Arrange pasta on wax paper to create macaroni men, houses, cars, or other shapes.  Glue together and let sit for at least two hours.  Apply acrylic paint and let sit for another two hours.  Enjoy playing or displaying your child’s new creation!

5. Design Diva
For the future apparel mogul in your house, gather up old magazines (or buy back issues cheap at Half Price Books) and piece together favorite clothing items and accessories for an outrageous model collage.  Glue on a poster board and hang for an attractive room poster.

6. Paper Plate Aquarium
This fabulous idea from Mommy Tips brings out the undersea adventurer in your kids.  Grab two paper plates (if you have Chinet they tend to hold up better), blue saran wrap (party section), edible gold fish, sand and anything else that could be underwater.  Glue onto the “eating” side of the plate.  Cut a large hole out of the other plate and tape the blue wrap on the inside.  Staple the plates together and hang from the ceiling for an attractive, no maintenance aquarium.

7. Paper Bag Puppets
Remember those fun puppets you made in 1st grade?  All you need is a brown paper bag and materials to decorate the puppet–construction paper, cloth, felt, and markers make great additions.  The flap becomes the head and mouth opening underneath.  Decorate and stage a family show!


8. Bowling Fun
Spray an old bowl or plate with a white primer.  Goodwill practically gives away ceramic dishware if you can’t spare any to a craft project.  After letting dry, paint with a coat of acrylic paint and allow to dry again.  Cut strips of paper in creative shapes a la mosaic or funky contemporary designs.  Small pictures also work.  Adhere to the bowl with a mixture of 1 part Elmer’s Wood Glue to one part water.  Seal the entire bowl with a 3:1 mixture glue to water and repeat.  Voila!  Your newly designed dish is beautiful and ready to decorate a shelf or use for entertaining.  (Make sure to cover it with plastic before using to serve.)

9. Paper Mache
Craft beautiful statues or even piñatas with newspapers, flour, a balloon, and paint.  To make an oval-shaped design, blow up a balloon for the frame.  Add paper plate cones around the design if desired.  Mix together 1 part flour to 2 parts water for the paste (and plan to use it all in one to two days as it stinks if you keep it any longer).  Tear newspapers into 2-inch strip.  Dip the entire length of the paper in the mixture and rinse off heavy excess.  Make firm contact when wrapping the newspaper, try to avoid bubbles and folds.  Apply 2-3 layers thick and let sit over night.  Repeat the process three or four more times.  Prime the balloon and decorate with tissue paper or craft paint.  Fill with candy and bust or hang from the ceiling for a decorative addition.

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