When it comes to kid-friendly projects, a little advance planning helps avoid last-minute trips to the store and provides your child with a smooth DIY experience.
Tip: Make sure kids have safety goggles and dust masks, just in case.
1. Pebble Can Planter
Upcycled “planters” teach your children how to reuse found materials while letting their imaginations run wild. (Instructions here .) After you’re done, plant some flowers or herbs that kids can water and watch grow.
You’ll need: Empty tin cans and plastic jars, pebbles (found or purchased), and a non-toxic adhesive
Time: 1 to 2 hours
Tip: You don’t have to stick with pebbles; be creative! Shells, buttons, small toys, costume jewelry, and other found objects will work.
Skill level: 3-8 years old
2. A Concrete Rug
Spruce up your tired concrete patio with a painted-on rug. You don’t have to be Rembrandt to come up with a design — try a few store-bought stencils. The first step requires a bit of elbow grease (you have to scrub the patio) but afterwards, the magic begins. Check out these how-to instructions .
You’ll need: Acrylic craft paints, stencils, brushes, and blue painter’s tape; keep a pail of water and a rag nearby to clean up spills. Mom or Dad should seal the design afterward with a clear concrete sealer.
Time: About 2 hours (leave 30 minutes drying time between coats)
Tip: If you are a little gun-shy about your rug design, rough it out using colored chalk first.
Skill level: Ages 6-14. Map out a small section for younger kids and let them freestyle within the faux rug border.
3. Chalkboard Just About Anything!
Your kids will express their creative urges when you help them make a durable, easy-to-clean chalkboard surface. You can put one just about anywhere: Doors and cabinet doors are favorites, or try painting a section of wall where family members can leave each other messages on the go. You can even put one on a fence.
You’ll need: A designated spot to paint, chalkboard paint, brushes, and tape. You might need to prime the surface you selected.
Time: 2-3 hours leaving about 30 minutes of drying time in-between coats of paint.
Tip: If you have very small children who’ll use this board, make sure it’s low enough for them to reach.
Skill level: Ages 6-14
4. A Pond Garden in a Barrel
Kids love kid-size stuff, and a pond garden in a barrel is just right. Half an old whiskey or wine barrel ($25) makes a fun-sized pond for flowering water plants, such as lotus and water lilies, and kids will enjoy watching them bloom.
You’ll need: Half a barrel (available at home improvement and garden centers), liner, filtered water, staple gun, and plants. For pre-teens or younger, Mom or Dad should handle all stapling.
Cost: up to $100
Time: 24-48 hours. Water needs to sit overnight before planting
Tip: If mosquitoes are a problem in your yard, agitate the water at least once a week with a garden hose and your miniature pond will stay mosquito free.
Skill level: All ages.
Deirdre Sullivan is an NYC-based writer who’s obsessed with maximizing every inch of her urban dwelling. She’s a former fashionista who has worked for “Lucky” magazine and “InStyle.” She recently traded her high heels and Fashion Week pass for a drill and bandsaw.
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