Five Indoor Crafts To Make With Your Child

I miss those warm days spent outdoors with my daughter. Enjoying a picnic in the park, pushing her on the swing, reading a book in the grass while she napped peacefully next to me. Yes, I know, it is winter. The cold weather means more time spent indoors, which also means mommy needs to find more ways to entertain her daughter all day. Luckily we have art!

Art projects are a great way to enjoy the indoors while teaching and engaging your little one(s). Here are five fun and creative projects using supplies you probably already have around the house or in the recycling bin.

Magnets. Magnets are wonderful, because they are played and stored on the refrigerator, which keeps them out of the way. My daughter already has a variety of magnets she loves playing with so I thought adding a few homemade ones to her collection would be fun. First, I printed photos of our pets. I also cut up one of my niece’s drawings to create multiple magnets. To protect the drawings or photos, laminate them or use clear packing tape to cover both sides. Then, I cut up some outdated magnetic calendars and glue them to the backs of the images. This project is a great way to cherish handmade drawings while creating a new toy for your little one. I also love Sun Hats & Wellie Boots idea — it suggests recycling comic books, magazines and coloring pages to create story magnets. Story magnets tap into your child’s imagination and encourage literacy and creativity.

Photo and Drawing Magnets

Photo and Drawing Magnets

Salt Dough.  Homemade art supplies are safe, non-toxic, inexpensive and fun to make. Salt dough is nothing more than 1 cup fine salt + 1 cup flour + 1/2 cup of water. Mix the salt and flour together then add the water. If the dough is too dry, slowly add more water. Roll out the dough with a wooden rolling pin as you would cookie dough and use cookie cutters to cut out flat shapes. The dough can be stamped with rubber stamps prior to baking. (See below for an example child’s pendant I made with small cookie cutter and stamp.) Pinch pots also are easy to make. Just be sure the clay is not too wet or you will have problems shaping it. I found it helpful to cover my hands in flour to soak up some of the moisture. Let your creations air dry for 24-48 hours or bake at 250F for about 2-3 hours turning over half way through baking. You can add color using acrylic paint or papier-mâché. A pinch pot makes a great storage vessel. If you are interested in other non-toxic art supplies check out Hazel Baby in Hamilton Park. The store carries a whole line of non-toxic veggie based clay, fingerpaints, crayons and sidewalk chalk.

Salt Dough, Child Pendant and Pinch Pots

Salt Dough, Child Pendant and Pinch Pots

Keepsake Pillow. Children grow out of clothes so quickly. I am lucky to have received a lot of hand-me-down clothing from friends and family. I pass clothing onto the next parent, but sometimes I hold onto clothing, especially printed t-shirts and onsies, for sentimental reasons. T-shirts can be sewn and stuffed into an easy keepsake pillow. This is an excellent project to teach your child how to sew. No advanced sewing skills are needed just use a simple straight stitch. Lace, ribbon or ruffles can be added around the edge for embellishment. If you have multiple t-shirts try making a blanket. Looking for other project to teach sewing skills? Pig & Pepper sells a great “Make Your Own Mermaid Doll” kit by Seedling.

Keepsake Pillow

Keepsake Pillow

Music Shaker. We all know how much fun it is to use a metal pot and wooden spoon as a drum. Other instruments, however, can be created with all kinds of materials like plastic bottles and toilet paper rolls. Shakers are so easy and inexpensive to create. To make a simple shaker, fill an empty plastic container such as a water bottle with dried beans. To prevent the beans from coming out, glue the cap on and cover it with masking or duct tape. My daughter loves watching the beans move back and fourth as she shakes the bottle so I left it undecorated. If you have an older child, try making a shaker out of a cardboard paper towel roll. Hot glue one end of the roll, fill it with beans and then glue the other end. Papier-mâché it with scrapbook paper, old wrapping paper or newspaper. You can also decorate it with paint, stickers, drawings, feathers, ribbons and beads. To add to your instrument collection, pick up a kazoo or tambourine at Metropolis Music.

Music Shakers

Music Shakers

Playhouse. There is always an abundance of cardboard around my house so I decided to make my daughter a playhouse. In order to make it for dual purposes, I painted the outside of the house with chalkboard paint. The paint has a strong odor so I would recommend painting it in the garage or a spare room. You can also use acrylic or tempera paint and have your child help. Make a window box and fill it with tissue paper or plastic bottle flowers. Attach a mailbox and fill it with little notes to your child. Save the wrapping paper from the next birthday party and use it to decorate the inside walls. Visit TRAASH to see detailed instruction for creating this house.

Cardboard Playhouse

Cardboard Playhouse

I hope this will help you pass the time during those long cold winter days. Invite some friends over and make it a creative play date. Always be sure to supervise children while creating or playing. Most importantly, I hope these projects will help you create fun memories. Please share some of your fun indoor art projects in the comments section below.

Photos by Stephanie Romano

Stephanie Romano

is an artist, mother, teacher, and writer who has made Jersey City her home for the last 15 years. She creates items from recycled vinyl signs and upcycled materials under the name TRAASH.