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The Best Summer Crafts for Kids: 25 Fun, Easy Ideas

Posted by Christine Sarikas | May 6, 2020 2:00:00 PM

General Education

 

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Whether it's a rainy day or your kids have had enough time in the backyard, summer crafts are a great way to keep them occupied by giving them a fun way to explore their creativity. In this guide, we've compiled 25 of the best summer crafts.

We've organized them into three categories, based on age: summer crafts for toddlers, summer crafts for preschoolers, and summer crafts for kids. However, these groups are just guidelines, as most of these crafts can be done by a variety of age groups. From ice cube sailboats to insect hotels to cactus rock plants, this list of easy summer crafts for kids will be sure to be a hit with everyone!

 

Summer Crafts for Toddlers

These crafts are designed to be fairly simple and quick, to accommodate toddler abilities and attention spans. However, each of them has the option to be more involved so older kids can also join in the fun!

 

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Under the Sea Paper Plates

This is a very adaptable summer craft that can be quickly altered to suit children's interests and attention span. It can be as simple as painting a paper plate blue and gluing goldfish crackers to it, or kids can really up the creativity and design their own underwater worlds with whatever materials you have on hand.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Paper plate
    • Goldfish crackers
    • Blue paint or markers
    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • Green fabric or felt

 

Noodle Sunflowers

These noodle sunflowers are a great fine motor activity for younger kids as they carefully place the noodle "petals" around the center of the flower. With the painting, arranging, and gluing, this is a great way to keep kids engaged as they complete the steps of this craft.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Rotini noodles
    • Yellow and brown paint
    • Green paint or green pipe cleaners
    • Paintbrushes
    • Glue

 

Ice Cube Sailboats

This is one of the cutest summer arts and crafts out there. Kids will love being able to choose the colors of their boat and sail, and they'll be even more excited when they get to see their ice cube boat bobbing in the water. Have ice cube boat races, try to guess where the wind will blow them, or try to predict which boat will stay afloat the longest.

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: High
  • Materials Needed:
    • Ice cube tray
    • Food coloring
    • Aluminum foil
    • Construction paper
    • Sticks or plastic straws
    • Watercolor paint
    • Kiddie pool or large bucket

 

Coffee Filter Butterflies

Coffee filter butterflies are a longtime favorite craft, and kids have loved making them for decades. They're easy enough and fast enough that you can soon have a group of butterflies to hang around the house. Tip: Their colors are especially vivid if hung beside a window.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Coffee filters (2 per butterfly)
    • Markers
    • Pipe cleaners

 

Clothespin Caterpillars

With just clothespins and a couple of pom poms, you'll soon have a crew of fuzzy caterpillars that can be turned into magnets or left on their own.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Clothespins
    • Pom poms
    • Googly eyes
    • Glue
    • Adhesive magnets (optional)

 

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Summer Crafts for Preschoolers

Easy but still engaging, these crafts are perfect for getting preschool-aged kids excited about summer.

 

Leaf People

For this summer craft, all your kids need is a bunch of leaves (the more varied the color, shapes, and sizes the better), and some creativity. Will the leaves become people? Animals? Houses? It's up to them! There are also many images of leaf crafts available on the internet if you need more inspiration.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Various leaves
    • Glue
    • Paper
    • Googly eyes (optional)

 

Toilet Paper Roll Fireworks 

This 4th of July craft will be a hit with any kid who loves fireworks. Whether you're able to see actual fireworks for the holiday or not, you can create your own with just some paint and toilet paper rolls.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Construction paper
    • Empty toilet paper rolls (at least 3)
    • Red, white, and blue paint
    • Scissors
    • Paper plates

 

Sponge Balls

Sponge balls are a great alternative to water balloons: they're less messy and they don't hurt when you get hit by one. Plus, they can be reused over and over once you make them! Make a bunch of sponge balls, fill some buckets up with water, and get ready to duck once the attack begins!

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • 3 sponges per sponge ball (not the kind with the rough side)
    • Rubber band or hair elastic

 

Cactus Pet Rocks

Not quite up to keeping an actual plant alive? These cactus pet rocks won't let you down! Collect some smooth rocks, let kids paint them to look like cacti or whichever plants they could prefer, and use hot glue to add eyes and place them in small terracotta pots. Now they'll have an adorable plant friend who you never need to remember to water!

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Smooth rocks
    • Green and white acrylic paint
    • Mini terracotta pots
    • Googly eyes
    • Hot glue gun

 

Pom Pom Ice Cream Necklace

These cute pom pom necklaces showcase everyone's favorite summer treat. This craft only takes a few minutes, and kids can customize using it by choosing their favorite colors and patterns for the ice cream cones. The instructions explain how to turn the pom pom ice cream cones into necklaces, but you can keep them the way they are ice your kids would rather play with them than wear them.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Pom poms (any size or color)
    • Colorful string or yarn
    • Felt or colorful paper
    • Hot glue gun
    • Beads (optional)

 

Puffy Sidewalk Paint

Elevate standard sidewalk chalk by swapping it out for puffy sidewalk paint! The paint only requires 3 ingredients, and it's non-toxic and washable. Fill up some squirt bottles, and turn your sidewalks into works of art!

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: High
  • Materials Needed:
    • Flour
    • Shaving cream
    • Food coloring
    • Gallon freezer bags
    • Plastic squirt bottles

 

Ice Cream Cone Bird Feeders

Sure you could just leave some birdseed out for the birds, but why not step it up and make a craft both kids and feathered friends will enjoy. There are lots of DIY ideas for bird feeders, but we love this one because all the materials it uses are biodegradable, so the Earth loves it too.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Waffle ice cream cones
    • Peanut butter
    • Birdseed
    • Twine, yarn, or pipe cleaner

 

Handprint Flamingos

There are lots of handprint crafts out there, but for kids who love flamingos (and who doesn't love these colorful birds?). This summer craft gives your way for your child to express their creativity as well as a way for you to record their childhood hand size.

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: Low
  • Materials Needed:
    • Pink paper
    • Pink pipe cleaners
    • Scissors
    • Small googly eyes
    • Glue
    • Markers
    • Pink feathers (optional)

 

Suncatcher With Flowers

There are many suncatcher crafts, but this one is extra special because it gives you a way to preserve beautiful flowers. If you have a laminator, this craft takes only a few minutes, and then your kids can enjoy looking at the flowers they collected all year.

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: Low
  • Materials Needed:
    • Pressed flowers
    • Paper plates
    • Laminator + laminating sheets

 

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Summer Crafts for Kids

These summer crafts for kids require more time and/or skills than the previous craft ideas, but with enough adult help, younger kids can enjoy them as well.

 

Ice-Dyeing

Tie-dyeing is a classic summer activity, but ice-dyeing puts a new spin on this fun activity. The colors it creates are more subtle than those of tie-dye, but it's also a less messy version and gives fabrics a beautiful watercolor finish.

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: High
  • Materials Needed:
    • Wire rack
    • Plastic bin
    • Cotton fabric to be dyed
    • Ice cubes
    • Powder dye

 

Insect Hotels

Insect hotels can be as simple (just a few sticks wrapped in a bundle) or as elaborate as you’d like, and they’re a great way for kids to get creative making the hotel and then get rewarded by seeing who has moved into the home they built. After creating a hotel with hiding places for bugs, place it outside (near a garden is often a good spot), wait a few days, then check it to see who has occupied the “rooms”. You can also use a bug ID book or app to try and identify the visitors.

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Shadow box or other box with multiple compartments
    • Hot glue gun with glue
    • Sticks, bark, small rocks, dried leaves, bits of yarn/wool, etc.

 

Melted Bead Suncatchers

This is definitely one of those summer crafts that requires adult supervision, but kids will love the final results, and as long as you have the materials, this is a fairly easy craft. Kids will choose the colors they want their suncatcher to have, pour them into an old muffin tin, and heat them up so they melt into a colorful suncatcher.

  • Difficulty Level: High
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Translucent pony beads
    • Old muffin tin (that you won't be reusing for making food)
    • Outdoor grill, toaster oven, standard oven
    • Yarn or ribbon

 

Squirt Gun Painting

This is definitely an outdoor activity, but can you think of anything that'll make kids happier than shooting paint out of squirt guns? Set up the paper, squirt some watercolor paint into the squirt guns (other types of paint will likely permanently stain the squirt guns), and let the kids have at it!

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: High
  • Materials Needed:
    • Squirt guns
    • Liquid watercolor paints
    • Paper
    • Easel or another way to hang the paper

 

Popsicle Stick Birdhouses

What bird wouldn't want to spend some time in one of these cute, colorful birdhouses? The basic design is simple enough that even younger kids can make one of these houses with the help of an adult, and kids can add all sorts of embellishments to personalize their birdhouses and draw in more feathered friends.

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Colored popsicle sticks
    • Hot glue gun
    • Birdseed

 

Painted Walking Sticks

Hikes are a favorite summer activity, and you can help your child feel like a real explorer with their own walking stick. Then, take it a step further by having them customize it with their own colors and decorations. This is also a great craft to do while camping, where there are likely lots of potential walking sticks to choose among.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: High
  • Materials Needed:
    • Large stick/branch
    • Tempura paint
    • Brushes

 

Beaded Wind Chimes

This is one of the more involved summer crafts we've listed, but at the end your child will have a beautiful "wind chime" they created and decorated. The finished product is pretty enough to be hung in a room or near a window (inside or outside) to catch the sunlight.

  • Difficulty Level: High
  • Messiness Level: Low
  • Materials Needed:
    • Branches or large sticks
    • Acrylic paint
    • Beads
    • Yarn or twine
    • Small eye hooks
    • Thread

 

Seashell Picture Frame

Have a photograph, from summer or otherwise, you'd like to display? Have your child decorate a basic picture frame and turn it into a seaside memento! This is also a great way to use shells collected during a favorite trip to the beach. Kids can also paint the shells or decorate them with glitter, if they want to be even more creative.

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Picture frame
    • Shells
    • Hot glue gun

 

Shark Bookmark

This shark bookmark will make reading a bit more exciting this summer. With just a little bit of cutting and folding, you'll soon have a fearsome bookmark to hold your place.

  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Messiness Level: Low
  • Materials Needed:
    • Gray, white, red, and black paper
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Hole punch (optional)

 

Paper Lanterns

Even if you have nothing more than paper and a stapler or glue, you can make these elegant paper lanterns. Once kids learn the basic pattern of making the paper lanterns, they can easily make them on their own and add their own decorations. The lanterns can then be displayed around the house or hung in the backyard.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Low
  • Materials Needed:
    • Paper or card stock
    • Scissors
    • Stapler or glue
    • Ruler
    • Pencil

 

Painted Rock Animals

A perfectly smooth river rock is a great thing to save from a favorite spot, and your child can make it even more special by painting their favorite animal on it. The completed rocks can be used as paperweights, or just as adorable decorations.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Messiness Level: Medium
  • Materials Needed:
    • Smooth rocks
    • Acrylic paints
    • Paintbrushes

 

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Summary: Easy Summer Crafts for Kids

Whether you're looking for summer crafts for toddler, summer crafts for preschoolers, or summer crafts for kids who are older, we've got them! These summer arts and crafts will be sure to keep children occupied while developing their creativity and growing their interest about the natural world. Choose one or more you think will be a hit and get crafting!

 

What's Next?

Want to get kids writing as well as crafting? We have 57 writing prompts perfect for kids, including narrative, persuasive, and fiction prompts.

Also looking for science activities for kids? Check out our 37 science experiments for kids that you can do at home!

Looking for educational games instead of crafts? Our compilations of great learning games for toddlers and learning games for kids in elementary school are guaranteed to give you tons of ideas.

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Christine Sarikas
About the Author

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.



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