Craft Activities for Kids: Inspiration for Children of All Ages

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a little girl with her Framed Puppet Theatre kit

Let your children's imaginations run riot with these easy-to-follow makes

Spending time with your kids making cool stuff is a great way to bond, play and educate, all at the same time

Mini Maker cover

Reprinted with permission from GMC Publications, Mini Makers © 2016 by Laura Minter and Tia Williams, RRP £14.99. Available from all good bookshops and Photography by Emma Sekhon, Rebecca Mothersole, Laura Minter and Tia Williams.

Framed Puppet Theatre

This theatre is made from a picture frame. Decorated with pasta and gilded with gold paint, your mini maker can pull back the velvet curtains, shout 'Action!' and re-create your favourite family moments. You can use any size you like for the frame – just make sure all the measurements match up.

You will need

  • 8 x 10in (20 x 25cm) picture frame, with glass and backing removed
  • Macaroni or other small pasta shapes (approximately 60 pieces)
  • Strong glue
  • Gold acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • 8 x 10in (20 x 25cm) purple velvet fabric
  • 20in (50cm) gold rickrack
  • Tailor's chalk or pencil
  • 2 x eyelet hooks
  • 16in (40cm) ribbon
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread, pins
  • Scrap of black card
  • 2 x pieces of strong card, 8 x 12in (20 x 30cm)
  • Scissors
  • Mask template found on page 152

  1. Begin by gluing the pasta around the front of the frame. Spread the glue in a zigzag pattern and arrange the pasta pieces on top. Do this in small sections at a time so the glue doesn't dry up before the pasta is positioned. Continue all around the frame and then leave it to set.
  2. Paint the whole frame, including the pasta, with gold paint. You may need a few coats to get an even coverage.
  3. To make the curtains, draw around the frame on the reverse of the fabric, using tailor's chalk or a pencil. Cut this out. Mark and cut the fabric down the centre, across the width to create the two curtains. If you want neat edges, fold the long sides under by ¼in (6mm) and sew. Repeat along the bottom edge.
  4. To make the channel for the ribbon, fold down the top of each curtain by ¼in (6mm) to conceal the raw edges. Fold over again by 1in (2.5cm). Pin and sew along the fold with a sewing machine or by hand. Repeat this for the other curtain and feed the ribbon through both channels
  5. Screw on the eyelet hooks ½in (1cm) down from the top of the frame on the inside and tie the ribbon onto each one, with the front of the fabric at the front of the frame. Make sure it is tight so that the curtains don't droop.
  6. To make the stands, measure the inside height of the frame and cut out two cardboard triangles to this height by 6in (15cm) wide. Paint them gold.
  7. To make the curtain tie-backs, cut the length of gold rickrack in half. Then fold each piece down the middle and glue them into the inside rim of the frame in the centre, one on each side. Glue the cardboard stand on top of the tiebacks, using the photo as a reference.
  8. For the theatre sign, draw around a teacup onto the strong card. Cut this out, then cut it in half and paint each piece gold on one side. Score a line ½in (1cm) from the straight edges on the gold side of each semi-circle and fold along the line. Glue the two circular sections together with wrong sides facing.
  9. Use the template on page 152 to cut out two masks from black card. Paint a smiling face on one and a sad face on the other, using gold paint. Glue them onto one side of the semi-circles then glue the whole thing onto the top of the frame in the centre.

Minimaker two

Edible Magic Wands

These delicious edible wands are fit for the little prince or princess in your life. They are a magical project to encourage mini makers to become little kitchen helpers. They can get involved in the whole process – weighing and mixing the ingredients, using the cookie cutters and decorating the wands.

You will need

  • Star-shaped metal cookie cutter, 2½in (6cm) in diameter
  • 1½oz (45g) butter
  • 10½oz (300g) mini white and pink marshmallows
  • 6½oz (180g) crispy rice cereal
  • 3½oz (100g) white chocolate
  • Edible glitter
  • 8 x wooden skewers, 10in (25cm) long
  • Baking paper
  • Baking tray, measuring 13½ x 8 x 1½ in (34 x 20 x 4cm)

  1. Begin by melting the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the marshmallows to the melted butter and cook gently until they are melted, stirring constantly.
  2. Take the saucepan off the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, add the rice cereal and stir the mixture until all the cereal is covered.
  3. Press the mixture into a tray lined with baking paper. Place another sheet of baking paper over the top and press down until it is flattened and compressed. Put the mixture in the fridge for an hour to set.
  4. Once the mixture has hardened, use a cookie cutter to cut the crispy mixture into stars. Push a skewer into each.
  5. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and leave to cool a little.
  6. To decorate, place the wands onto a piece of baking paper and use a teaspoon to carefully drizzle the white chocolate on top. Leave to cool and harden, then dust on a little glitter for some extra sparkle and magic!

Mini maker three

Foldaway Cardboard Boat

This foldaway cardboard vessel comes complete with button control panel, flags and even an extending plank to send unruly pirates to the sharks. This boat is pretty large, but you could make it as big or small as you like.

You will need

  • Large cardboard box, 30 x 30 x 20in (76 x 76 x 50cm), for the boat
  • 2 x pieces of 20 x 30in (66 x 76cm) corrugated cardboard, for the boat ends
  • 6 x 60in (15 x 150cm) corrugated cardboard, for the plank
  • 7 x 10in (18 x 25cm) corrugated cardboard, for the control panel
  • 2 x pieces of 18 x 24in (46 x 60cm) corrugated cardboard, for the figurehead
  • 4 x paper plates
  • 6 x small bottle tops (twistable or capped) and 1 x large bottle top (from a detergent bottle)
  • A roll of red, yellow and brown duct tape
  • 3 x sheets of clear acetate or plastic, 8 x 12in (20 x 30cm)
  • Blue acrylic paint and paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • PVA and strong glue
  • Black felt-tip pen and a pencil
  • 50in (130cm) length of 1in (2.5cm) dowelling
  • Terracotta plant pot with a 1in (2.5cm) hole
  • 3 ¼ yd (3m) string
  • 8 x 12in (20 x 30cm) sheets of card in the following colours: 1 x yellow, 2 x green, 2 x orange and 5 x red
  • Scrap piece of card, approximately 4in (10cm) square

  1. Open up the front and back of the square cardboard box by vertically cutting down two opposite corners. Open up the top flaps of the box so they stand up straight.
  2. Take one of the 20 x 30in (66 x 76cm) pieces of cardboard and use coloured duct tape to attach it between the two cut open edges on one side of the box - overlapping each piece by 3in (8cm). This will create a pointed front to the boat. Repeat for the back and add tape along the matching sides for extra decoration. Cut off any flaps that are sticking out at the bottom of the boat.
  3. Next, you need to cut some shape into the sides of the boat. In the centre of both long sides, measure and mark in pencil an 18in (46cm) line along the natural fold (for the top flaps). Then, from each end of the line, draw a diagonal line towards the top, going about a third of the way along the front piece of cardboard. Use scissors to cut this shape out.
  4. Create a decorative figurehead for the boat by drawing a simple design onto cardboard. The design needs to measure around 22in (56cm) high with a straight edge to fit the front of the boat. Add a 3in (8cm) strip to the lower straight edge to create a tab to stick to the boat. Draw and cut one first, then flip it and draw around it to create another. Score along the tab line then glue the pieces together with PVA glue, leaving the tabs unglued. Use duct tape to attach the figurehead onto one end of the boat - this will now be the front. Cut a star from yellow and red card and glue in place on the figurehead for extra decoration.
  5. To create the door, mark the centre point of one side panel and measure 6in (15cm) either side of this point. Draw a line straight down on each side then cut down one of the lines and along the bottom.
  6. Add duct tape along all the cut edges of the boat. Cut small tabs into the tape where it goes around bends and corners to keep the tape smooth.
  7. Take a paper plate, cut off and discard the rim to make a template for the portholes. Place the template in the centre of one of the sides at the front, about 12in (30cm) from the top and draw around it, then cut out. Repeat on the same side, towards the back of the boat. Make a third porthole using the paper plate in the door, 5in (12.5cm) from the top.
  8. Take the remaining three paper plates and cut out the central circle, leaving the outer rim only. Paint the back of each one blue. Take the template used for the portholes and use it to measure and cut out three circles from acetate. Use strong glue to stick the acetate circles inside the plates. Add four black circles with black felt-tip pen to resemble bolts on the blue side of the plate. Glue them onto the three portholes you cut out from the boat, using strong glue.
  9. To make the plank, cut a 6 x 60in (15 x 150cm) piece of cardboard. Fold it into three equal pieces and add brown duct tape around the sides and on each fold. Tape it inside the bottom of the boat opposite the door, so that it can be folded out when the door is open.
  10. To make the control panel, cut a piece of cardboard measuring 7 x 12in (18 x 30cm) and paint it blue. When the paint is dry, use strong glue to stick on six different bottle tops to create buttons and dials. Glue the panel inside the front of the boat.
  11. Next, make bunting from green, red and orange card. Cut a 3in (8cm) triangle from a scrap of card to make a template. Fold a piece of coloured card in half, lengthways, and place the template onto the fold. Cut out six bunting flags from each colour. Lay out the string and glue inside the paper triangles. Stick the sides together, encasing the string along the top edge. Space the flags about 2in (5cm) apart.
  12. Make a handle for the door by drawing around the large bottle top on the front of the door. Cut this out and insert the top, gluing at the back to secure in place.
  13. For the flagpole, turn the plant pot upside down and insert the dowelling inside, taping it in place if you want extra stability. Place it in the centre of the boat. Tie the middle of the bunting around the top and place a little duct tape over the top to secure. Tie each end of the bunting to the front and back of the boat.
  14. Make a 2in (5cm) slit in the back of the boat with scissors to attach a cardboard anchor (a separate project outlined in the book.

    Don't chuck out that box!

The cardboard measurements given should be used as a guideline rather than an exact requirement. Hang on to any big boxes or ask at an appliance store if they have any going spare.