Arts and crafts don’t have to mean mess and stress. We test out three simple craft kits that kids will love (and you can help them complete without losing the will the live).
Not all parents delight in keeping their cupboards stocked with multi-coloured pipe cleaners and glitter glue. In fact many of us are daunted by the mere mention of arts and crafts. If, like us, you have neither the skills nor the ambition to create a wildflower headdress or weave a dreamcatcher trimmed with fallen feathers, make peace with your Pinterest-envy and buy one of these mess and fuss-free kits to get you through the last (damp) days of summer. Who says you can’t buy creativity?
This beautiful new book is a perfect summer holiday project, especially if you’re on the road as it packs away nicely (the scraps slip into an envelope at the back) and requires nothing else except glue. There are seven animals to create using the envelope of patterned paper. Tear it into strips, patches and circles to make vaguely animal-shaped collages and then slip them into the pocket pages, opposite Oscar Sabini’s example creatures, to create their own beasts. We found it helps to draw the outline first. There’s a lion, hippo, toucan, elephant, monkey, bear and a crocodile. Either tackle it in one hit or dip in and out when the garden games are rained off. This is a clean and simple project that nevertheless encourages creativity and can be done with kids of all ages without older kids getting bored or younger ones being left behind.
Age: They say 4+ but our 3-year-olds loved every minute.
If you’re not one for letting them loose with glue then welcome to Calafant, whose sturdy, high-quality cardboard structures come pre-cut and punched – all you and the kids have to do is slot them together. But don’t let that fool you. This is no ‘set them up and wander off ’ project. You’ll need to be hands on with children up to 8 or 9. The last Calafant we tackled (the robot) took the best part of 4 hours to finish, and we were still finessing it long after the children had gone to bed. That said it lasted for several weeks, even though it was manhandled relentlessly by my fearless three-year-old. The treehouse is technically more delicate but it can be folded away, which is handy because it’s not small. String out the value over another morning by painting it, or set it up in the corner of the playroom and let their imaginations run wild.
Age: They say 6+, we say only a very patient 6-year-old will finish it in one sitting.
A simple project that looks beautiful and endures long after the event, this is a great choice for younger children to hone fine motor skills, or older children to practise patience: there’s a beautiful reward at the end. Simply thread the wool through the holes in the wooden frame to create a wooly sheep. Stick one (per child) in your handbag to keep them happy when you go out for Sunday lunch, or set them to it when you need to make an important phone call.
Age: They say 4+, and unless you want to sit and guide hands, we agree. Older children still enjoy the exercise.Lydia Gard is editor of Mr Fox and has two boys, aged 3 and 6. Follow her on Instagram @mrfoxmag.