Summer Crafts for Kids Using Stuff You Have Handy

As a single mom, my summer crafts for kids always originated from something we had lying around the house. A giant cardboard box from an appliance purchase became a fort. Old pots, pans, silverware, and dishes furnished a make-believe restaurant. My kids were gifted with brilliant imaginations that could turn an egg carton into a toy metro bus, and scrap paper into paper dolls.

The supplies I contributed to summer crafts for kids in our neighborhood never cost more than a couple of dollars. Yet, having all those little odds and ends to create with made our house the one to hang out at during school breaks.

summer crafts for kids sponges

Why Do Summer Crafts for Kids?

You may think that summer crafts for kids are all fun and games. It surely is entertaining and so much more. The act of crafting helps kids to develop fine motor skills. In other words, they learn to use their hands and gain hand-eye coordination.

There’s so much more to it than physical development, however. Having many opportunities to create allows children the space to explore their ideas and develop their personalities.

What are the benefits of summer crafts for kids?

Giving kids space to create allows them time to process their feelings and gives them an outlet for their emotions. Not to mention, they get to spend time with you and take pride in solving problems.

You can see how the act of creating builds self-esteem. Make sure to give them time to make decisions about which colors to pick, what kinds of things to draw, or how they’ll use any given material.

Then spend time talking to them about their choices to gain valuable insight into the way they see the world. Planning and concentration are two vital aspects of a successful life, and summer crafts for kids provide them opportunities to hone these skills. They’ll also develop their voice when you ask them to share why they made specific choices.

rock painting summer crafts for kids at home

Another point to think about is that not everyone learns the same way.

For some kids, who are by nature kinetic learners, making things is the absolute best way to process information.

Auditory and visual learners will thrive with summer crafts for kids as well. You can help kids who learn best by hearing by speaking the instructions and having them repeat the process back to you.

Likewise, visual learners will excel if you demonstrate how to make the craft while they observe. Using summer crafts for kids can help you discover what type of learning situation is best for your child.

Summer Crafts for Kids Using a Sponge

There are a variety of sponges, from natural to manufactured. They come in all shapes and sizes; from the sponges that fit in your hand as you wash dishes to the giant ones that cover large areas all at once like when you’re cleaning the exterior of your car.

The point is, you probably have a few sponges lying around the house that you can use for summer crafts for kids. Go ahead and stockpile them, so they’ll be handy when the kids need a project.

PBS parents summer crafts for kids

Why not watch this video with the kids to get them excited about making things with sponges. The jazzy music is sure to get everybody revved up. You can make the supply list together as part of the project. Be warned, though; you may need to get up and dance too before the video ends.

Try making a paddle out of sponges for a badminton game with a twist, using balloons and sponge paddles. All you need is a hot glue gun and a glue stick — we’re guessing Elmer’s glue will work too. Also, grab a large carwash sponge and a big flat paint stir stick.

Find a box cutter and remember that it’s probably best if the adults do the cutting for safety’s sake. First, cut a deep slit in the bottom of the sponge, insert the stick, and glue it in place. Now all you have to do is blow up a few balloons and have a game of balloon badminton.

Summer crafts for children using sponges

Another idea using sponges is the mini carwash station for the kid’s little toy cars. Be prepared; your plastic laundry basket is in danger of being transformed. It will never be the same.

There’s one more clever way to use sponges, suggested by PBS parents; a crafty transformation of your unused dishwashing sponges into mini sailboats. Kids love dual-purpose crafts that are fun to make and entertaining to play with after they’re finished.

Sponge fish by BoxYourSelf

More spongy ideas are on their way in the form of fish. For this clever craft, grab a 2- to 3-inch-thick sponge, some string, construction paper, scissors, and a few markers.

First, tie off one-third of the sponge for a fishy tail. After that, you’ll want to use the scissors to cut out the fish’s mouth.

  1. Once you’ve finished cutting out the mouth, put the body aside and grab the construction paper.
  2. Draw two round eyeballs and three fins.
  3. Cut out the pieces you’ve drawn, then glue them onto your sponge fish.
  4. You can finish him off with little accents that you draw onto the sponge with the marker.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with differently shaped sponges and all sorts of colors. Remember, there’s more than one kind of fish in the sea. It might be fun to Google fish or look in a book and see if you can recreate them in sponge form. What other things can you think of to use?

Paper-Made Summer Crafts for Kids

Keep packs of construction paper around for a pleasant diversion anytime. There are so many things you can do with colored paper, a pair of scissors, a couple of markers, and a bottle of Elmer’s glue. Instead of colored paper, you can always use brown paper grocery bags. Newspapers, magazines, and old coloring books are all options too.

Paper roll craft projects for kids

Easy paper flamingo summer craft for kids

Making fanciful flamingos is a fine time and doesn’t require a lot of equipment. All you need is a glue stick, colored paper, a marker, and googly eyes if you want to make it extra fancy.

With some patience and a pair of scissors made for small hands, even young kids should be able to make this cute bird. You can guide them if needed, but let them give it a try as you demonstrate with your own creation.
Take a piece of construction paper and cut a strip off that’s approximately 2 to 3 inches wide. Make two folds in the center. After that, you want to cut the shape of a wing as well as cutting in little strips for feathers.
The next steps are to cut out the neck and head, which is one piece; and one more piece for the beak. Now you’ll glue the whole thing together and add the finger holders. All that’s left to do now is play with your new pet flamingo.

Origami frog that jumps

There’s no soundtrack with this video, so you may want to learn how to make the frog first, then share it with the kids. We think they’ll get a real kick out of this one because it jumps. So, not only will it be fun to make, it’ll be loads of fun to play with too when you’re finished.

Start with a square piece of colored cardstock for maximum bounce. Fold it in half. Take the left bottom edge and fold it to the middle of the top of the paper. Then fold the top left edge down to the middle of the bottom of the paper. Now repeat the process starting at the right bottom of the paper.

When the cardstock is laid flat and folded in half, you should be able to see all of your fold lines. The lines serve as a ruler as you pinch together each side of the paper to form a three-dimensional diamond.

As you form the frog’s body, the folds get smaller and tighter. So you may need to help little fingers as you progress to the finished product.

Paper fish summer crafts for kids

We have more paper critters to add to your summer crafts for kids idea bank. How about these adorable paper fish? We love their personalities, and we’re guessing the kids will want to make a whole school of the little guys. Guess what supplies you need — colored paper, glue, and scissors — the staples of summer crafts for kids.

  1. Start with a square piece of colored paper. Fold it in half to a triangle.
  2. From there, each side folds into the middle, and you use those creases to line up the cuts that will give the fish their unique movement.
  3. Unfold it once you’ve cut the slits in the paper.
  4. Cut the wide edge to a curve.
  5. Apply the glue to one of the flaps and fold the paper over to glue the sides together creating a tube.
  6. Now cut a half-circle out of the remaining paper and glue it to the bottom of the opening in the fish body.
  7. Time to add some personality with a different colored paper for the fins, tongue, and eyes.

You could also use those googly eyes we talked about earlier.

Summer Crafts for Kids Using Rocks

Painting rocks has got to be one of the all-time favorite activities for summer fun. Back in the ’70s, pet rocks were all the rage. But they had nothing on these colorful rocks that take on the form of everything from food to flip-flops.

Part of the process for this activity is finding the perfect rocks. Why not use that time to go on a walk and make finding each rock a treasure hunt? Here are a few ideas to give your rocks some personality.

Flip-flop rocks

What says summer like flip-flops? We think these are the cutest, and so easy to make. Start by painting the entire rock a solid color. Use two coats if you need to for full coverage. Lightly sketch in the straps, using a darker color paint for the straps. Adorable!

Emoji rocks

If there’s one thing we all recognize, it’s an emoji. These painted rock emojis would make great gifts for everyone. Maybe the kids could think about who they would like to gift their works of art to when they’re finished.

supplies for rock painting summer crafts

Watermelon rock

Painting a watermelon rock will take a little more finesse. There’s quite a bit of blending involved, and you certainly must find a rock that is the right wedge shape. How cute would it be to do a whole fruit bowl? Use photographs as reference, and you can’t go wrong. You may even want to take them with you when you go rock hunting.

Summer Crafts for Kids with Toilet Paper Rolls

Save the toilet paper rolls for endless fun making anything their little imaginations can think up from food for their make-believe kitchen to characters from a favorite television show. The possibilities are endless.

Make a cardboard ice cream gift box

For this project, you’ll need two toilet paper rolls, cardboard, an ice cream stick, a utility knife, paintbrushes, a pencil, glue, tape, sandpaper, and paint. Be prepared; this project has a few steps.

Painting the toilet paper rolls strengthens them so you can form the ice cream. An adult should cut the ovals you’ll need to cover the top and bottom of the form. There may also be some trimming to do to make the edges nice and smooth.

You’ll be cutting the top off as well to add another piece, which will fit inside the lid and create a little secret compartment. If you take your time with these and make them as sturdy as the demonstration, you could use them as gift boxes.

Toilet paper roll animals

Summer crafts for kids need to have varying skill levels. If the last toilet paper roll project was a little too advanced, don’t worry, this one is much simpler.

The kids could create a whole farm populated with these cute toilet paper roll animals. Or an octopus to hang out with those sponge fish. The octopus is super easy to make. Cut slits in the bottom of a toilet paper roll and use a pencil to curl the legs away from the body. Paint it and draw eyes with a marker. Or reach for our favorite — the googly eyes.

crafts to make with toilet paper rolls

Which Summer Craft for Kids Will You Try First?

Taking the time to put together summer crafts for kids means so much more than playtime. If you make the little treasures with them, you’ll find out a lot about who they are as people. You’ll get a glimpse into how their minds work. It’s also possible that by doing projects with your kids, you’ll discover how they learn best.

There’s no end to the benefits of summer crafts for kids. They’ll learn strategies for problem-solving, how to follow directions, and of course, you’ll probably end up with piles of homemade presents that will be worth a lot more than anything money can buy.

Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Best Stuff Online,, and a few other websites. In 2011, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become a full-time writer. Tiff is obsessed with finding the most interesting, coolest stuff online and sharing it with the world. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.