Not so long ago, it was hard to find an art kit for children that involved much more than some pompoms, glitter and a few pipe cleaners.
Today’s creativity kit is a whole different pot of paint. Some introduce new artistic techniques, while others offer open-ended project possibilities.
If you’re looking for stay-at-home spring break craft activities that encourage experimentation and expression, you’re in luck.
Bridget Daly and Shannon Ninburg, Seattle-based art educators, offer a variety of award-winning project kits on their website eyecanart.com. The kits come with everything needed and are designed for repeat use. Choose from Printmaking, Pastel Stencils, Wax Drawing, Amate Cut Paper (symmetrical design cutting) and Sumi-e Painting.
The last, for example, comes with a bamboo brush, watercolors, printing ink, papers and even a chop block to create your own signature, as the traditional Asian artists do. With a $20-$25 price range, the kits get raves on parent blogs.
Zebramix.com takes creativity to the kitchen with the mantra "stirring up fun." Started by another pair of Seattle parents, graphic designers Brian Alm and Lisa Burgess, each kit comes with a Safari Baking Map. The map has instructions on one side and project ideas, word games, and math and science challenges on the other.
There’s a Flour Power Cookie kit complete with kid-size green rolling pin, ingredients, and dragonfly and daisy cutters. Cupcake Studio comes with ingredients, zebra cupcake papers and a zebra frosting pen. The kits also are available in eye-catching tins that can be used for lunch or little collections long after the goodies are gobbled. All the ingredients are organic or all natural, and the kits go for $22.99.
Creativityforkids.com has some great kits for transportation lovers. Drift cars, trucks and racing bikes can be tricked out with paint and stickers ($24.99). The company’s Pop-Up Bookmaking kit comes with two blank books, die-cut pieces, stickers, googly eyes and markers, and has won a number of parents’ choice awards, as has the It’s My Life Scrapbook kit. Scrapbooking’s a great way for kids to start gathering childhood memories.
If you’re trying to de-clutter, consider having the kids take photos of toys, books and games they’ve outgrown. They can paste the photos in albums with descriptive captions, then pack up the goods and pass ‘em along. The kids may enjoy adding photos of friends, pets and fun experiences to the scrapbooks. When they’re teens, they’ll have fun revisiting the virtual playroom.
If you’ve got a storyteller in your family, consider Eric Carle’s Sketch-and-Tell art pads, with covers featuring Brown Bear, Grouchy Ladybug, Hungry Caterpillar and others. The covers may inspire budding authors and illustrators to create their own stories; there’s space for words and images on all 32 pages ($1.99). Markers and pencil crayons are also available (what-do-you-see.com).
Finally, if you don’t mind gathering up the components yourself, look at Boyd’s Mills Press’ "Look What You Can Make With" book series (prices range from $5.95 to $16.49). They give instructions for projects involving cardboard boxes, tubes, plastic, newspapers and other easily scavenged items for a wide range of age groups. Way more work than one of the convenient kits, but a good way to use up the household junk.