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Beyond the classroom

Engage and Excite Your Students with These 3 Summer Crafts for Kids

Three kids doing crafts

For most teachers out there, the school year is over. But there are some schools that are open all year, like the private school where I worked. In the elementary grades, summer school mostly focused on skills, but we also offered summer camp activities. So, if you're teaching over the summer like I did, give your students a break from the three Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and engage them with some summer crafts for kids. Here are a few of my favorites.

    Koosh Ball Painting

    Whether it's July and you're working on a fireworks painting, or you just want to make bursts of color from throwing a toy, a Koosh ball is loads of fun and makes awesome prints. Kids love tossing the balls around and letting the paint splash.

    Materials

    • Koosh ball (found in toy stores and online)
    • Poster paints
    • Paper bowls
    • Poster board
    • Glitter pens

    Directions

    1. Find an outdoor space with a cement surface to conduct this activity, and make sure your students wear old clothes.
    2. Divide your class into pairs. Provide each pair with a sheet of poster board, paper bowls of paint, and Koosh balls.
    3. Lay the sheet of poster board on the cement surface. Have the kids dip their Koosh balls into the paint. Then it's bombs away as the young artists drop the Koosh balls onto the board from shoulder height. The print looks like fireworks!
    4. When finished, gather up the poster boards and take them to a safe place to dry.
    5. Before heading inside, grab soap and a nearby hose to clean up the cement surface and your students' hands and feet, which are probably covered in paint!
    6. When the paintings are dry, invite the kids to enhance their "bursts of colors" with glitter.

     

    Nature T-Shirt

    During summer session, the students and I took nature walks outdoors when we needed a break. During this time, we collected a variety of foliage around the school grounds. Then we worked on this unique shirt that was treasured by each student.

    Materials

    • White cotton t-shirt (brought from home)
    • Fabric paints (small pump bottles in a variety of colors)
    • Cardboard
    • White parchment paper
    • Newspaper
    • A few small rocks

    Directions

    1. Lay the shirt outdoors on a hard, flat surface. Make sure it's laying on a piece of parchment paper with newspaper spread on the cement to avoid a mess.
    2. Insert a sheet of cardboard inside each shirt to keep the paint from seeping through from front to back.
    3. Have the students arrange assorted natural foliage in a simple design on the front of the shirt. Place small rocks on each item so the wind doesn't blow them away.
    4. Invite your shirt designers to spray the shirts lightly with liquid fabric paint all around the edges of the plants. Make the shirts colorful with a variety of hues.
    5. When they're dry, carefully lift the items. Only the silhouettes will be left.
    6. Follow the package directions to permanently seal the dyes and these nature shirts will be ready to wash and wear.

    Water Bottle Noisemaker

    Noise is synonymous with holidays, music, and just letting loose. This craft idea makes great noisemakers from odds and ends around your classroom and empty water bottles that usually get put into the recycling bin. These shakers are far more entertaining to make and use than ones you can buy. I've found that this craft is the perfect activity for rainy days when you can't go outside.

    Materials

    • Clean personal-size water bottles or any small plastic bottle with a screw cap
    • Baubles to put inside (beads, jingle bells, sparkly pipe cleaners, sequins, confetti—the list is endless)
    • Heavy-duty glue

    Directions

    1. Start with a clean bottle that has been washed and dried thoroughly. Remove labels.
    2. Set out a variety of baubles on the table. You want tall items like sparkly pipe cleaners or metallic garland to stand up inside the bottle. Make sure to add sequins, confetti, or glitter for a fantastic visual effect when a bottle is shaken.
    3. Next, invite the children to add objects that make noise. My favorites are small jingle bells and beads, but you could also use dried beans, pebbles, and coins.
    4. After the bottles have been filled halfway with all the baubles, run a line of heavy-duty glue inside the cap and screw it on securely. This ensures that all the contents remain inside the bottle and aren't spewed all over the floor.
    5. Now it's time to get wild with these noisemakers (preferably at the end of the school day!) and then send them home with your students.

    These are only a few summer crafts for kids to incorporate into your daily lesson plans. When the weather is nice, take advantage of the outdoors and do some art in the fresh air. Even if the weather's bad, you can still give your kids some much-needed creative, crafty time if you have the right supplies. Turns out that summer school can be fun after all!

       
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