If you have spent any time at all in the blogosphere of crafty mothers, you will know that it is overflowing with beautiful and innovative ideas for crafting with children. As for me, I am helplessly drawn to the crafty creations of the natural living flock, and am constantly impressed by the artistry in the wood and wool crafts.
As anyone who has actually tried to replicate these crafts will tell you, though, they are almost invariably harder to do at home than they appear on the screen. First, you have to have the supplies (the getting of which can be tough, as I’ve discovered especially with the natural materials I like so much), and then you need to make space and time, which you’re likely to underestimate because who properly accounts for prep time and clean up with small children except their teachers?
Having said all that, I’m not a craft naysayer – not at all. Actually, I go through quite a bit of effort to ensure that I do some crafting and creating at home with my boys because I value it so much. But I’m aware of how much effort goes into some of these endeavours, and I know how divided a mother’s time can be, so I’m always on the prowl for easy kids crafts too. Partly for my own sanity, but also to make a pitch to other parents who might enjoy this version of quality time with their kids but don’t have tons of energy or time to throw at it.
Enter marshmallows and toothpicks. That’s it!
As I discovered this idea from the Artful Parent, with just these two items, you are set up for some serious fun with your kids. You poke the toothpicks into the marshmallows and see what structures you can make. If you get different sized marshmallows (highly recommended!) or the coloured ones, you can make some really interesting things. The Artful Parent suggests stale marshmallows, which might make them sturdier, but I just used fresh ones and they were fine too.
This activity works for a wide age range. Older kids (and adults) will be able to make quite impressive towers and bridges, but it’s really nice and inclusive for toddlers too, as they’ll be able to poke their own marshmallows and make something too.
Clean-up is a snap and there basically isn’t any prep to do. And of course you can recycle the marshmallows afterward for rice crispie squares (also an easy make with little people).
It’s not very natural living or Martha Stewart or whatever, but it is do-able, and it’s rare that I’ve gotten that much successful and fun making time with my boys for so little effort. It’s nice to drool over the creative crafting of the web; it’s better to do what you can when the screen is off.
Do you have any easy crafting ideas to share?
Love it. I can totally see a chemistry lesson brewing…. then being consumed!
Oh yes – marshmallows were made for science experiements.
I love this idea!
I am not so crafty so I like to keep things simple. Something that is fun to do with the kids (not really a craft) is to cover a cookie sheet with flour and have the kids use their fingers to draw pictures or letters in the flour. When they are done with it, simply shake the cookie sheet and the flour re-sets. Like a cheap etch-a-sketch!
I also like taking a squirt bottle and filling it with paint and water. Hang a old sheet or large piece of paper outside and have the kids go nuts. An easy alternative in the winter: use the snow as a canvas!
I heard of an idea like your flour one, but with (chocolate?) pudding or something inside a plastic baggie. Your kids can draw and erase away, and it’s less clean-up even than the flour, although the flour would be nice to touch.
And the squirt bottles! Anything with water and projectile scores high for our boys. I’ll keep an eye out for a snowy day – thanks for the idea.