Maybe it’s because they’re still too young or maybe it’s the genes they inherited from their father or maybe it’s just punishment for all that stuff I did in my twenties, but my kids hate crafts. And I loooove crafts! Love em! I’ve cajoled and planned and tried to work with their specific interests, but all I’ve ever gotten for my pains are a few halfhearted minutes pushing the pieces around and whining to get to “go play”. So, here are ten of our favorite things to do around the house that don’t involve those horrible, torturous crafts.
1. Painting on the Windows
This is so easy and so fun. You can buy special window paint pens or just go with any washable paint. Washable markers, dry erase crayons, water colors, whatever; it all leaves a mark that can be removed. I’ve found that the more saturated the color looks on the window, the more they like this, so it can be fun to go with something like paint pots instead of finger paints or markers. After you’ve painted, go outside and admire your handiwork!
2. Glow Stick Bath Party
I can’t take credit for this one, it’s my BFF, Kendra’s, idea. The boys are BONKERS for this one. You just get a buncha cheap glow sticks from the dollar store and throw them in the bathtub. Turn the lights off, turn on some music, and you have yourself a watery kid rave! You can don swimsuits or go nekkid, whatever makes it feel out of the ordinary and special. Lather, rinse, drop the beat, repeat!
3. Making Popcorn and Reading Library Books in a Tent/Fort
This is a three parter: Go to the library and tell the kids that all the books they pick out are going to be read in a FORT. Say the word, fort, like it’s the most mystical, magical freaking thing you ever have or ever will experience. Then go home with your loot, build an amazing fort or tent out of couch cushions, bunk beds, sheets, and zip ties (home improvement store). Pop some corn (if you use coconut oil, it tastes like movie theatre popcorn!) and read em all the books they can handle. My boys especially like it if I let them eat lunch or dinner in the fort/tent.
4. Writing a Letter and Mailing It
This is great for you, the kid’s fine motor skills, and grandma. I get out paper, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, stickers, etc. This is DANGEROUSLY close to a craft, so watch yourself. This MUST be billed as writing a letter. Not anything else. Have them write or draw whatever and then make a big show out of addressing the letters to grandma or another important person in their lives. Let them stick the stamp and walk it down to your local box. My boys love watching the letters go into the yawning maw of that thing, don’t ask me why, and it gets them outside for some fresh air.
5. Baking Cookies/Tin Foil Hats
This one involves some prep. Pick a seriously simple cookie recipe. I love the Cook’s Illustrated Snickerdoodle Recipe. Make tin foil hats and put them on their giant melons. This makes it fancy. Let them pour and mix as much as possible. Then they get to eat cookies!
6. “Cleaning”: Vacuum and Spray Time
This is weird but something that no kid can resist. Fill a spray bottle with water and ask them to help you with very important grown up chores. Tell them the bathroom needs cleaning and turn them loose with the spray bottle and a few paper towels. You might have to mop up afterwards, but it’s worth it just to get the hilarious pictures. You can also “spill” some cheerios or other highly visible and suckable items on the rug and let your kid go nuts with the vacuum hose. This is only acceptable if your toddler is unafraid of the vacuum (4 out of 10 toddlers).
7. Action Figure Pool Party
Fill the bathroom sink with water/bubbles. Get some step stools. Put in figures. One half hour of somewhat messy fun.
8. Tar Pits Bathtub
Fill up the bathtub and give your kids a tray of watercolors each (trust me, buy however many you need, you do NOT want fighting over the stupid tray) and let them get wild painting the tub and stall. The water will turn muddy and brown, at which point you will throw in the plastic dinosaurs and watch them sink, yelling, “It’s Darwinisim, mother *******!!!!!” Don’t yell that. But think it and laugh.
9. Rescue Plant Mission
This one also involves a bit of prep. You go on a walk and find a plant that can grow when some of it is removed from the mother. A succulent or vine is especially great for this. Break off a small piece or “rescue” broken bits from the ground and take them home to plant. Put them in a jar of water or dirt and have the kids check on them daily. Hopefully they live, cause otherwise it’s mildly traumatizing.
10. Collection Walk
Have each kid pick a vessel (lunch box, paper bag, etc.) and a color that’s somewhat often found in nature. You can take a stroller (I absolutely ADORE my Joovy sit n stand. It’s my first double stroller, and, I’m not kidding, it makes my life possible.) or just walk around and get each kid to collect all the things they can find that are the corresponding color they picked out. You could then have them paste the things onto a poster board with glue sticks, but that would probably seem like wayyyy too much like a craft, so better safe than sorry.