Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Handicrafts for Kids to Enjoy on Cozy Winter Evenings (Prior Parent Skill Not Necessary!)

The cooler weather we've been having in the evenings makes me want to gather in the living room with my family and just enjoy being together.  It's also that time of the year when I encourage my children to start working on handmade Christmas gifts for family.  The other evening my older kids and I were cheerily gathered in front of a fire sewing and crafting.  I felt like everything was perfect and it reminded me of this post I wrote a couple years ago.  It's ok, you can go check it out... it's short :) 

We all take so much enjoyment in being together on cozy evenings - pajamas on, usually in front of a fire, reading books, playing games, listening to music, and crafting.

That last one is important to me!  Since I enjoy handcrafts so much, it's something I want to encourage my kids in as well.  I've been especially encouraged by reading the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason, which places importance on handcrafts.  Mason encouraged parents to give children the materials and instruction to learn specific skills and to intentionally create pieces that are beautiful and useful - think the opposite of the tissue paper and marshmallow crafts today's Kindergartner's bring home :)  While my kids do their share of tissue paper and glue stick projects (the kind of stuff I dispose of when they're asleep at night and I can sneak to the garbage bin unimpeded...), I also try to teach them skills so that they have the ability to create beautiful and useful items that I don't want to get rid of!  

One of the benefits of teaching kids a handicraft is that they often end up with a product that they're proud of and that they are delighted to see in use around their home (or are excited to give as a gift!)  

Here is a list of craft supplies that I always keep on hand for my kids.  These are the types of handicrafts that don't require a parent to have previously mastered a skill ( crocheting. Believe me, I've tried to teach my kids how to crochet, but it hasn't stuck...)  If you're interested in learning a new skill, perhaps it would be enjoyable to do so along side your child!  But these are primarily projects you can set your child to after a cursory look through the  instructions.  Any of these would be great to give as Christmas gifts or to purchase now and use for making Christmas gifts :)  (note: these are also the type of projects to work on in the living room, in front of the fire!  So no glue, perler beeds, paint, etc... )

C'mon.  This is a childhood staple!  If your kitchen doesn't have a couple of these in use, you're missing out ;)
My kids have used two kinds of looms/loops, and based on experience, I highly recommend the Harrisville metal looms and cotton loops.  The colors of the cotton loops are beautiful, and although slightly more expensive than the neon nylon ones, they make a much lovelier finished product.  The cotton pot holders are larger and thicker and, quite frankly, prettier.
If your kiddo already has experience with the traditional 7"x7" loom, perhaps she'd want to try out the larger, 10" loom.  I confess, I'd like one of these in my home, because they make amazing potholders.  They're a nice big size, perfect for large soup pots or casserole dishes on the table.
Finally, if you have a child that would love to turn a potholder into a real piece of art, check out this book!

Clover Pompom and Tassel Makers

Ok, I confess, I'm in love with making pompoms and tassels these days, so it's a little tricky to let my kids use my tools... but I do :)
These Clover tools are easy for kids to use, and my older three often do projects on their own with them.  They have made pretty pompom flowers, garlands, and Christmas tree ornaments with them.  
Clover sells several sizes of pompom makers, but I recommend the "Large" and "Small" sets for kids (as opposed to the XL and XS ones).  The tassel makers come in "Large" and "Small" but each one makes a handful of sizes.  
These, plus a few inexpensive skeins of craft yarn, will be enough for lots and lots of pretty projects!

Darice Knitting Looms

I have no idea how to do traditional knitting, but my kids sure can crank out hats on these knitting looms!  I really like this set of four sizes. I don't think we've ever used the smallest one, but the other sizes are perfect for baby, kid, and adult- size hats.  So basically, your kiddos could make Christmas gifts for literally everyone on your list this year :)
If you'll have more than one child loom knitting at once, you'll want to purchase an extra looming hook for each child.
For these looms, chunky yarn works best and makes hats without gaps in the weave.  I recommend Bernat Softee Chunky yarn for an inexpensive option (LOTS of colors available!), Lion Brand Heartlad Thick and Quick Yarn for a premium soft acrylic option, and Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick for a warm, wool blend option.
If hats aren't your thing, how about starting out a little smaller with this little flower loom kit for making accessories, garlands, and even embellishments for handmade Christmas cards.
My oldest son has got this handicraft down very well and has expressed interest in some other types of looms. We've looked at these oblong looms, a sock loom, and various books and websites on improving loom knitting technique.  It's really a skill that can grow and last as kids get older. 

Sew Cute Needlepoint Kits

These kits come with everything needed for a child to complete a cute needlepoint project from start to finish, including a pattern-stamped plastic sheet, yarn, needle, and frame.  With simple instructions and easy patterns, these kits are great for beginning sewers.  There are several options, like the sundae above, a horse, dog, cat, owl, flower, and rainbow.  They're not all "girly" :)

DIY Embroidery Kit

I don't know any fancy embroidery stitches or techniques, but I can do a simple running stitch and back stitch.  My kids enjoy "embroidery" because it can be entirely imaginative, or you can create your own "pattern" to sew pretty much anything you want.

To build an embroidery "kit" for my kids, I inculde:

embroidery hoops (4" hoops are good for little hands and 6" are good for 'medium' hands)

craft felt (I use felt for the little kids because it's "forgiving" if you have to pull out mistakes and because you can get packs of lots of different colors.  Use green for a background for flowers, or blue as a sky background for balloons!)  

craft thread (This is different from embroidery floss, and in my opinion, is better for little kids.  It doesn't not have strands that can separate like floss does, so it makes it easier for kids to thread needles and use the thread on their own.  Older children may be able to separate and use strands of embroidery floss, but so far we've just used this craft thread.)

larger-style embroidery needles  (For kids, you'll want to use a needle that's a bit longer and thicker and has an eye big enough that they can eventually learn to thread on their own.) 

craft buttons (I included these because my kids have combined embroidery and applique designs with buttons - buttons for the centers of flowers, or as holly berries, etc...)

Looking for some specific sewing project ideas?  Here a couple things that my kids have worked on and I recommend :)  

Button-Flower Wall Hanging

No-sew fleece blanket kits

One of my daughters is going to be working on some no-sew fleece pillows for Christmas this year.  This is a fun option for young kids who know how to tie a knot - you end up with a soft and fluffy blanket in the end!  There are tons of patterns and styles, but I included links to these two which seemed fun for kids :) 

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What kind of crafts do your kids enjoy?  Or how does your family like to spend cozy winter evenings together?  I'm just loving the fireside nights we've already had and am looking forward to another many more these next several months!

(Lots of Amazon affiliate links.  If you buy something,  many thanks!)


  1. Crafting with my kids around a fire sounds heavenly! I would love to get my daughter into crafting. Which of those crafts would you say an almost 5 year old could do? We have a plastic potholder loom, but she still needs a lot of help with it.

    -Lacey -

    1. Hi Lacey! Both of my daughters were able to make tassels and do simple embroidery when they were four. The button-flower wall hanging post linked to above was from when my daughter was a little more than four and a half, so maybe that would be good! With you sitting near by, little kids can be guided to sew by repeating "up - down - up -down" as they move the needle :) Have fun!

  2. This is great. We never get to have a fire, since we are still running the Ac, but I love the idea of a craft night. We made votive holders for fall by modge podging leaves and tissue paper onto glass holders from the do,liar store. They're really pretty and I've been enjoying them this fall.

    1. Yes! I remember seeing pictures of those! So pretty <3

  3. These are so fun! Thank you for sharing. :)

  4. This yarn bracelet has been the most recent handicraft success at our house as the weather turns colder:

    Your post is encouraging me to get all of our looms back out and see if the kids will take to them yet this year!!

    1. Ooh! I want my kids to get into friendship bracelets, but none have taken to it yet :(

  5. My daughter was going to make simple friendship bracelets for her friends, but got super excited when she realized she could add a saint medal charm and beads. ..let the ideas start to flow!


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