January 28, 2023

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music

5 kid-friendly crafts based on children’s books

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As the days get shorter in the northern hemisphere, we’re all starting to settle into our homes and go through that list of clever projects to get done this winter that we saved from last winter. I know I’m not the only one poking my head out in the springtime thinking “oh thank goodness” and “damn I didn’t finish this list…” at the same time. Single. Year.

So, before hibernation really begins, I’ve put together a list of crafts based on children’s books to make with the kids in your life over the winter. Things are more fun with kids, and they’ll motivate you to get your project done by either 1) giving it up halfway and basically asking you to finish it, or 2) getting super into it and making it a Delightful and a connecting experience from start to finish. Either way, you’ll complete a project and hopefully have some fun along the way!

learn to knit

There are many children’s books that feature knitters, but the last one I liked was Danielle Davis’ Zinnia and the Bees, in which a young knitter is imprisoned for a yarn bombing and then a swarm of bees decides to live in her hair.

If you and your child want to learn to knit, there are a variety of resources out there. Personally, I kept learning by watching the videos on KnittingHelp.com, and then I taught my mom. You can pick up this Learn to Knit Kit from Amazon ($14) and get everything you need.

Knitting develops fine motor skills, teaches patience and builds attention span. Plus it does stuff, which is pretty cool! You and your child could follow in Zinnia’s footsteps and knit a sweater for a tree (hint: it’s a tube) or make mittens/scarves for those in need.

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Plant an indoor garden

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t grow anything. I am inspired by Uncle John’s Urban Garden by Bernette G. Ford. In the dead of winter it’s always good to be reminded that spring is coming, and what better way than a small indoor flower garden?

Of course, you don’t need a kit to grow an indoor garden; You can inspire it too! Get some potting soil, throw in some seeds, water occasionally and see what happens.

make seed paper

Speaking of growing things, if you’re willing to get a little messy, you might have a blast making seed paper. This is one of my favorite projects with kids because it’s guaranteed to turn your kitchen into a complete disaster, everyone having a great time and who doesn’t love the end product?

I found a good tutorial here at The Spruce Crafts. The general idea is that you want to soak some newspaper and/or junk mail and then puree it in a blender until it’s a gooey, gooey mess. Squeeze out the water, then stir in the seeds with a spoon. You can use any small seeds; Wildflower seeds are popular, but make sure you get a mix that’s native to your area. You can press the cored paper into cookie cutters to make fun shapes and then let them dry. Voila!

Make your own snow

A perennial favorite is Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day, and with good reason. Who doesn’t love a great day in the snow followed by hot chocolate next to a warm fire?

If there’s no snow yet – or even if there is, and you’d rather stay indoors – you can make snow that won’t freeze your fingers! Another tutorial from The Spruce Crafts, this one can make a bloody mess too, so be prepared. It only requires two ingredients (three if you decide to add glitter): shaving cream and baking soda. Play with the ratios until you’re happy with the texture, then sculpt some snowmen or build your own winter landscape.

Note: This snow is not edible.

Create a blob

Yes, a dab! (By the time I’m done with this paragraph, “blob” will no longer look like a word.) Inspired by Anne Alpert’s Blob, in which a blob named Bob experiences everything he could be—including himself—I offer you this Alpenglow Industries Build-A-Blob Kit. Created either by finger knitting or using zip ties, then attaching some giant googly eyes, this is a fun project for kids and parents alike. And when you’re done, you can choose what color you want the blob you built to be! ($30)

There are so many ways to keep yourself and your kids entertained during the winter. I hope these crafts based on children’s books have sparked some ideas for you! For more children’s book-based crafts, check out this list of DIY craft kits for book lovers or this round-up of activities from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.