Summer Craft Ideas For The Family

By DJ Schneider Jensen
Director of Early Childhood Services
Center for Jewish Education

Its July.  You’re back from the beach, been to Hershey Park twice, and, thanks to the storms that caused power outages, spent plenty of time at your in-laws.  You don’t need ideas for mini vacations, you need things to do. Crafty things to do that will keep the kids busy and maybe even entertain you.  
Here are some fun things to do when you are out of creative juices.

  1. I’ve always loved scrap-booking, and my sons loved making their own pages. Instead of investing in expensive albums, attach 10 index cards together using a key ring, and let them create a mini scrapbook/brag book.  Let them pour over photos on Facebook, photo sites and photos in your house.  When you print their photos. consider using black and white rather than full color. It costs less and looks very elegant. Once your children have the photos they like, offer them glue sticks, stickers, scissors and “fancy” pens to decorate each card, one page per side. Encourage your children to use the photos to write/illustrate a story, one that they can send to Bubbe or take to synagogue or even share with friends. This could start a fad. Make “trading books” and swap with your friends at school!
  2. Let’s not forget food.  Make some frozen treats.  Grapes are the best.  Easy to freeze and fun to eat.  Just wash the grapes and put them in a bag to freeze. Same with oranges.  Cut them in half and pop them into a Ziploc in the freezer.  When it’s time to eat them, simply wrap the base in a little napkin, point your kids towards the back yard and you have 10 minutes to chill.
  3. Get in out of the heat and do something cool!  Create really cool Rosh Hashanah Cards.  Using card stock (sometimes called tag board), cut the paper in half so you have two sheets that are 8 1/2′ by 5 ½.” Your child can decorate the cards anyway you’d like  – try cutting an apple in half and making apple prints, or decorate with the seeds of the apples glued on the paper.  My boys loved blowing bubbles with straws in cups of colored water.  The bubbles would pop onto the paper and create beautiful tie dye-like prints. Once the paper is dry, hole punch the long side and let the children thread yarn through the holes, making a stitched card.  Looks great.  You can make several of these in an afternoon.
  4. Use a new technique to make some decorations for your sukkah this fall.  Using scratch foam block printing, you can make pictures to hang, remembering our 7 ushpizin guests. Hey, maybe you can come up with a few others to invite!
  5. Get a jump on next year’s Seder by creating a Seder Plate using rocks.  Find nice size rocks, clean them up (that, by the way, could be very fun for little ones).  Using Sharpies or other markers, have your child draw the different parts of the plate. (karpas, charoset, etc.).  OR, they can make one rock for each plague. (You may want to write what they tell you about their creation on the underside of the rock. Just in case someone forgets.)

When crafting with your children, please remember that they are only this age once. You don’t want to, or need to, teach them how to perfect each project.  If you really are itching for perfection, wait until they are asleep and do it on your own.

The beauty, the bonding, is in the process.  Ask open ended questions and use this time to get to appreciate your child’s creativity and thinking process.  Believe me, I’d do anything to have my 24-year-old make Seder plate rocks with me again!

How’s your summer reading going? Check out PJ Library and learn how to bring wonderful, FREE Jewish Books to your home.

For more information on PJ Library, call the Macks Center for Jewish Education at 410-735-5000. Then take a seat on the couch with your little ones and enjoy sharing some stories together!

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