If you’ve got kids around, you need a few craft projects that you can pull out for summer break. I mean, maybe the internet will go down for the day (ohpleasepleaseplease!). Maybe it will pour down rain for sixteen hours straight. Maybe your kid will invite over a bunch of their friends and then they’ll all be bored together.
Camp counselors are the superheroes of easy, fun kid craft projects, no expensive or hard-to-find special materials required. Take a few pages out of the camp counselor handbook and check out my list of my favorite summer camp-style crafts. They’re all highly kid-approved, and you can very likely source all the necessary supplies from around your house, yard, or recycling bin.
Summer Camp Crafts from the Recycling Bin
embossed aluminum pendants. Upcycled food packaging is the star of this project that shows kids how to take their jewelrymaking skills to a new level.
cardboard pendants. The supplies for cardboard pendants are even easier to source and work with!
toilet paper tube toy binoculars. Get kids revved up for their next nature walk with this pair of easy-to make toy binoculars. All you need are three toilet paper tubes and a stapler!
plastic jar bug barn. I’m over my phase in which EVERYTHING had to be in a Mason jar (and yes, it took more than one Mason jar smashed onto the pavement to teach me that lesson…). Now I’m obsessed with peanut butter jars, which would make an even better choice for this project. Instead of handing your kid a hammer and nail to punch the holes in the jar lid, give them a power drill and let them drill the holes. There’s not a ton of damage that they can do to themselves and others with a drill bit, and for-real drilling is endlessly entertaining!
brown paper bag journal. Kids will enjoy keeping a journal of their summer adventures, or having a place to glue treasures from their nature walks, in these journals made from brown paper grocery bags. For even more fun, strew some old magazines and let them cut out pictures to decorate their journals!
coloring page bookmark. My kids went through a LOT of coloring books! Here’s a fun way for your coloring artists to preserve some of their favorite masterpieces. All they need are their favorite coloring pages, some duct tape, and a bit of embroidery floss.
food packaging postcard. Who says you have to travel to send a postcard? DIY postcards are fun to make from everyday packaging. Writing them is a great way for kids to practice their spelling and composition. It’s educational and entertaining, for the cost of a postcard stamp!
Summer Camp Crafts from Nature
fruit and vegetable stamping. Summer is a great time for educational enrichment activities, especially ones that make use of the bounty of summer produce. Get kids a little more interesting in healthy fruits and vegetables with this fun–if a bit messy!–art project. To make it more interesting for older kids, let them stamp onto fabric to make a bunting or embellish a tote bag.
painted rocks. Don’t let your kids make these and then leave them lying around literal nature–that’s both tacky AND bad for the environment! Painted rocks are fine for garden embellishments, however, and some communities have established rock gardens where painted rocks are welcome.
bean mosaic. This classic kid craft is never not fun! If you’re not in love with the prep work required to dye beans, then go even more old-school by simply offering your kid a variety of beans to create with. To be honest, exposure to the wide world of nature’s legumes is even more enriching than just dyeing a rainbow of pinto beans. You might even be able to tempt your kid into cooking and tasting a few with you!
fruit pizza. Put the kids to work helping with dinner, and get lots of healthy fruit in their tummies, too! Look for natural food coloring or other natural food dyes for the cream cheese.
fairy garden. A fairy garden is a delightful mix of upcycled, stash, and nature craft. Source an upcycled container to house the garden, and let your kid sift through their giant stash of tiny toys for the decorations. Populate the garden not just with fairies, but also moss, plant cuttings, or succulents.
leaf rubbings and tree identification. The perfect excuse for a nature walk, leaf rubbings are fun for kids both little and big. Look through a nature guide together to label the rubbings, then paste them into a homemade nature journal.
seed bombs. Let kids make their own natural planting kits using local wildflower seeds, or let them toss seed bombs of crimson clover around your garden.
Summer Camp Crafts from Stash
soap carving. Summer is a great time to build a kid’s confidence and skill set by letting them try something a little riskier. Soap carving is the safest and easiest way to introduce a kid to pocket knives and the joys of spending hot summer days whittling sticks into points. Any bar of soap works well for this, and definitely save those shavings for homemade laundry soap!
plaster of Paris figurines. If you’ve got plaster of Paris hanging around, and a silicone mold or two in the kitchen cabinets, you’ve got everything that you need to make a set of plaster of Paris figurines for kids to paint. Kids LOVE painting figurines, and can do it with pretty much any paint you’ve got on hand. If the figurines are small enough, hot glue magnets to the back; otherwise, enjoy your new paperweights!
ojo de Dios. It’s a summer camp classic, and an awesome way to use up scrap yarn!
sewing with felt and embroidery floss. Felt works great for teaching kids to sew by hand, because it can be stitched through just fine with a blunted needle. Add in embroidery floss, which is a LOT easier to work with than thread, and kids can exercise all their creativity with little fuss!
edible play dough. It’s craft time, snack time, AND sensory play time! For even more fun, set out crackers and cut fruit for kids to incorporate–and eat!