Classic Crafts & Games

Remember potato sack races and camp theme days? Some of these timeless 

activities are best outside in the summer but many can be done year round or even adapted to winter months (who says you can't have a relay race in the snow?). Combine these to make your own mini camp at home or enjoy them individually.  

Tin Can Lanterns

An eco-friendly project that transforms old cans into beautiful light fixtures. Perfect for kids who love using tools. 

 

For this project you will need:

-Empty metal cans (we used soup cans)

-Hammer 

-Large nail

-Graph paper

-Permanent markers

-Scissors and tape

-Drill 

-Spray paint or acrylic paint (optional)

-Tea lights (real or battery operated)

To make your lantern, follow these steps at HGTV.com.

Tips and Reflections:

-To ensure the cans don't roll around during the hammering and drilling, use a clamp to attach each can to a small piece of wood.

-The hammering can be tricky even for older kids, so be on hand to help.

-These would be pretty with an assortment of can sizes if you have them. 

Tie Dye T-Shirts

If you have never done this (and I hadn't), it really is fun and the kids will take pride in wearing their creations long after the dye is dry.

For this project you will need:

-White T-shirts

-Tie Dye kit (we used this one but there are many options)

-Rubber gloves 

-Plastic Wrap

-Washing machine
 

The tie dye kit comes with instructions but watch this helpful video 

from Angelynn in advance.

Tips and Reflections:

-This a great project for the whole family to do together. 

-It is messy and difficult to get the dye off of your hands and legs so make sure to wear plastic gloves.

-If you have access to an outdoor space, definitely do this activity outside. 

God's Eyes

A colorful, mess-free, classic craft that makes a beautiful wall decoration or ornament. 

For this project you will need:

-Two sticks of similar size (popsicle sticks, wooden dowels, twigs

all work)

-Different colors of yarn

-Scissors

Happy Hooligans has a clear and simple explantation of all the steps. 

Tips and Reflections:

-If you are doing this project outside, incorporate a nature walk or

backyard hunt for sticks and twigs and use them instead of popsicle sticks to make your God's Eyes.

-This craft gets easier as you go but younger kids may need help starting the yarn off in the center. 

-Changing the yarn colors and creating a loop for hanging can also be tricky and may require adult assistance.

-This is essentially a weaving craft and will be a hit with kids - like my 9-year-old daughter - who enjoy potholder looms or rubber band bracelets. 

Balloon Splatter Paintings

A special and fun art activity that is worth the mess and lengthy set up. 

For this project you will need:

-A cotton painting canvas (we used 18x24")

-Balloons

-Tempera or acrylic paint

-Funnel

-Darts

-Needle and thread

Follow the directions in this informative HGTV Handmade video (and just for fun also watch this scene from The Princess Diaries)

Tips and Reflections:

-This one really should be done outside. The paint splatters farther than you think so wear old clothes or a smock and cover the ground with plastic drop cloths.

-Filling the balloons is much easier with two people - one to squeeze the paint and one to hold the balloon and funnel. Kids should be able to help with this part but adults may need to do the blowing up and tying of balloons, as well as fastening them to the canvas.

-One of the messiest parts is retrieving the darts from the canvas. Have paper towels on hand to wipe down paint-covered darts as needed, and watch little feet tracking paint around. 

-It is easier to pull popped balloons off of the canvas before the paint completely dries. 

Painting Rocks

A simple project for all ages that encourages creativity and is a great use of leftover paint. 

For this project you will need:

-Rocks

-Tempera or acrylic paint and brushes

No real instructions needed for this activity. Look around your yard or the

park for an assortment of rocks and then paint away.

Tips and Reflections:

-Medium sized, flat rocks work the best.

-Use the finished rocks as paperweights or bookends, or to decorate an outdoor space. 

Circus Theme Day

Have a free day with no plans? Make it a theme day! A circus and carnival theme lends itself to multiple indoor or outdoor activities and is a great opportunity to use things you already own. Here are some suggestions of fun ways to bring the circus home.  

Decorations

Have your kids make a DIY circus banner by cutting out long triangles of construction paper in red, yellow and orange. Write the letters C-I-R-C-U-S on the triangles or draw circus-themed pictures. String them together with a piece of twine and hang the banner with some balloons. 

Carnival Games

Challenge the kids to create classic fair games using things around the house. A bag of small balls and different sized buckets makes a great baseball toss. A group of plastic cups positioned tightly together becomes a pingpong or dime toss. For a fun fishing game, make a fishing pole from a stick or pencil, a piece of string and a paper clip for the hook. Draw and cut out several fish from cardstock or construction paper, using a hole punch for the fish mouths. Place the fish in a wide bin or baby pool and try to catch and pick them up with the fishing pole. Make your own games and be creative! 

Food

Instead of sandwiches, have hot dogs for lunch on circus day. Pop up some popcorn for snack time or make this yummy funnel cake recipe for an afternoon treat.

Magic Show

If your children have a magic set but haven't used it in awhile (or ever), pull it out and have them learn and master a handful of tricks. Or grab a deck of cards and do a quick online search for simple card tricks. A red cape and a tall hat make a great makeshift ringmaster costume. Assemble an audience with whomever is in the house and have them perform a magic show to cap off your theme day. 

Outdoor Games and Races

A selection of games to play outside - as classic and silly as possible. Mix them in between crafts, or play them individually anytime you want. 

Fill-the-Bucket Race

The setup: Each child has two buckets, spaced about 25 feet apart, and each has a cup. To start, fill one bucket with water and leave the bucket at the other end empty.

Inside each empty bucket, place a piece of masking tape to indicate  

a “fill line”.

 

The rules: Each child must fill up their cup with water from the full

bucket then run to the empty bucket and dump the water. Run back

and repeat. The first one to fill the empty bucket up to the “fill line”

wins.

 

Fun and silly twist: Kids travel between the buckets in different ways.

An adult calls out instructions throughout the race for the kids to follow  - “skip”, “run backwards",

“balance the cup on your head”, and so forth. 

Obstacle Course

The setup: Bring out all the stuff and made an epic course.

 

The rules: Each player gets three timed trials and their best time

stands. 

Fun and silly twist: Each child gets a turn engineering their own

course.

Blindfold Ball-in-the-Bucket Game

The setup: One person is blindfolded. The other person hides a tennis ball and a bucket somewhere in

the yard, in separate places.

 

The rules: The non-blindfolded person gives instructions to the

blindfolded one with the objective of picking up the tennis ball and

placing it in the bucket. "Take two steps forward, turn to your right,"

and so forth.

 

Bonus: Also good for learning your left from your right!

Water Balloon Toss

The rules: Two people stand face to face, a few inches apart. One throws a water ballon to the other.

After catching it, the person holding the water ballon takes a step

backward, then tosses it back. They continue tossing and catching

the balloon, all the while moving farther apart, until the water ballon

bursts. 

Fun and silly twist: Explore what else you can use to catch the water

balloon besides just hands. Towels? Sporting equipment? 

Ultimate Classic Final Race

The setup and rules: Whatever goes! Make several “laps” the kids must complete. Ideas included a three- legged race portion, potato sacks, spoon-and-egg walk, more bucket filling, scarf juggling and corn hole. Use what you have available and make it your own. 

© 2020 by Sarah Bagley Steele