End of summer DIY projects for kids

Alison Sherwood
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

DIY is often beloved as a fun, fulfilling creative outlet, sometimes with money-saving powers.

For parents, do-it-yourself projects can also be a strategy for keeping restless kids busy. Or, looking at it another way, they provide an opportunity for kids and adults to spend quality time together exploring and learning.

“Hands-on experiences shared with your child will not only be remembered but also inform and influence later experiences,” said Kelcey Kalumbula, owner of Cloud 9 Workshop, which hosts DIY classes and events in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for all ages. “Children will have a better handle on problem solving if they see their grown-ups problem solve and work through challenges.”

Last month, Cloud 9 released its first e-book, detailing five “eco-art projects” to do this summer with kids. From simple ribbon streamers to tuna can bird feeders, the free PDF book (available at http://bit.ly/2b6AbbB) encourages parents and kids to work together using materials found around the house to create something useful or fun.

To avoid stress, Kalumbula recommends researching and reading directions all the way through before starting, and preparing all materials needed before introducing the project to your child.

“Understand your child’s attention span and don’t hesitate to take a break and divide projects into smaller parts,” she said.

Here are some projects to try at home.

No-mess mural: Let kids safely decorate a wall with this idea from “Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit.” Use painter’s tape to secure a sheet of contact paper to the wall, sticky side out. Provide a tray full of scraps of paper, buttons, pompoms, ribbons, feathers and other items from around the house and let the kids create a 3-D mural by pressing the craft goodies onto the sticky paper.

Pool noodle racetrack: Use a serrated bread knife to cut a hollow pool noodle in half lengthwise. Duct tape the halves together and position on furniture to create a marble run. Add a second pool noodle for a longer run.

Soda bottle boats: These boats from Cloud 9’s e-book will provide outdoor water fun once they’re complete. Determine the mast placement on the side of an empty plastic bottle and use a needle to pierce through on both sides. Insert a wooden skewer through both holes and use hot glue to seal the openings. Hot-glue a wine cork to each side of the bottle.

Have kids draw and cut two identical foam sheets to form the sail. Decorate the boat and sail with foam stickers. Fill the bottle with about 1/2 cup sand, tie a string around the mouth of the bottle and screw on the cap, then set sail in the bathtub, baby pool or at a local body of water. Use the string to control the boat.

Paper plate masks: With a little creativity, paper plates can become animal masks. Here’s how to make a lion mask, according to “Paper Goods Projects: A Super Make-It Book.”

Using a craft knife or scissors, poke a starter hole in the center of a paper plate. Cut out the flat center circle. Cut ears from the ruffled edge of another plate. Cut six 4 1/2-inch-long skinny strips out of the center of this plate, for whiskers. Paint the mask plate and ears orange and the whiskers black. When the paint is dry, glue the ears and whiskers to the mask plate. Glue a wooden dowel onto the back of one side of the mask.

Puppets: Turn wooden spoons into goofy puppets. Glue on buttons, googly eyes, yarn, fabric scraps and whatever else you have around the house to design your characters, then put on a puppet show.

Oobleck dough: This mysterious substance is liquid when still and solidifies when touched.

Combine 1 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup water and a drop or two of food coloring in a bowl and mix with a spoon until it comes together. The recipe is from “Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit.”