3 Easy, Cheap and Fun Crafts for Dreary Winter Days

by Tracy · 1 comment

Winter days can try even the most patient parents. Children who have been trapped indoors for even one cold, wet, dark day tend to bounce off the walls and make the house seem anything but cozy. Smart parents know to stock up on inexpensive supplies that can be turned into all sorts of fun and engrossing arts and crafts projects. Just in time for winter break, here are three of my kid’s favorites.

Slime/Oooze/Goo/Oobleck

The scientific way to describe these fun substances are non-Newtonian fluids but even if your little one isn’t old enough to learn physics, they can still have a lot of fun playing with these delightfully ooey-gooey substances.

There are literally hundreds of different recipes for various slimes, putties and goo available on the Internet. Most call for commonly available household items like all-purpose glue, liquid starch, cornstarch and borax and can be tinted with food coloring. Here are two simple recipes to try:

Oobleck
This is incredibly simple to make and so much fun that you’ll be wrestling your child for a turn.

Mix:

  • 1.5 cups of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of water
  • and a few drops of food coloring (optional)

Your child can press down on the oobleck to see it turn into a dry solid then let go and see it flow like a liquid. Experiment with using different molds and vessels to pour and shape the oobleck to see how it reacts. You can even let your child shape it in the ball and throw it in the air to see what happens (best to do this in a room with easily cleaned walls and floors, like the bathroom or kitchen).

Slime

  • ½ cup of all-purpose glue, like Elmer’s
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered borax (20 Mule Team is the most commonly found brand, look for it near the laundry detergent. It’s a very handy all purpose cleaner to have around, so don’t be dismayed by having to buy such a large box)
  • Food coloring (optional)

Combine the ½ cup of glue with ½ cup of water in a large container, stir well so that it is thoroughly mixed, add food coloring if desired and stir until evenly tinted. In a separate container, mix the 1 tsp of borax into 1 cup of warm water until it is completely disolved.

Slowly stir the borax solution into the glue solution until it reaches the desired consistency. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Play Doughs and Other Modeling Compounds

Again, you can find thousands of recipes for play doughs on the internet. Most recipes call for flour, salt, water, vegetable oil and cream of tarter; however, you can find recipes that are suitable for those that must avoid gluten, recipes that are edible and recipes that can be baked or air dried.

The following is one of the most popular and basic recipes for play dough. If you don’t have cream of tartar, it can be omitted, however it helps the dough become more pliable and easy to work.

Basic Playdough

  • 2 cups of white all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of table salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of very hot water

In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients, making sure to eliminate all clumps and lumps. Mix the vegetable oil into the water and blend until a soft dough forms. If you wish to color the dough, allow it to cool for a few minutes then separate into sections. Drop a few drops of food coloring into each section and knead until combined (wearing gloves is recommended for this step). Store the dough in air-tight containers in the fridge for one week. If you’d like, you can allow your creations to air dry completely and then decorate them with paint.

Puppets and a Puppet Theater

Puppets can be fun for children of practically any age. You can amuse a tiny infant with simple sock puppets made with odds and ends found around the house or keep a bunch of tweens and teens busy for hours constructing elaborate paper mache figures (and then for hours more writing and rehearsing their own puppet show).

Once again, an online search will yield hundreds of different ideas, patterns and suggestions for making all sorts of puppets, from simple ones made out of Popsicle sticks and construction paper to complicated marionettes that require sewing, carpentry and sculpting skills. It’s a good idea to start tossing extra bits of fabric, yarn, buttons, fancy paper and other notions into a craft bin that can be pulled out on dreary days for puppet making and other crafts. Other items that will be useful in puppet making include:

  • Orphaned socks
  • Paper bags of all sizes
  • A hot glue gun (to be used by older children with parental supervision)

Once you’ve made your puppets, why not make your own puppet theater? While you can buy puppet theaters of all kinds, it’s simple enough to make your own. Over sized appliance boxes can be cut into wonderful little theaters, but it’s not always easy to get your hands on a good, sturdy box of that size.

One of the easiest ways to make a puppet theater is to hang a blanket, towels or other large piece of fabric over a tension-mounted rod in a doorway. This is a great option for smaller homes without a lot of space for a bulky puppet theater. And don’t forget about using the back of the sofa as an easy stage!

What are some of your favorite indoor activities for cold, wet, winter days?

Bonus Tip:

Another way to save on your monthly Internet and TV costs is to find a current ATT U-Verse coupon code or at least a promotion to knock down your home service bill.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Arte di Sole, painting, painting,sculpture puppets, April 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm

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