Summer Crafting With Your Bigs!

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Today’s blog post was inspired by all the summer camp posts I have been seeing all over Facebook and Instagram. I have an 8 year daughter who happens to love crafts but doesn’t go to camp. She prefers to spend her summers relaxing and just enjoying some downtime, but I need to keep her brain working and I like to do this by introducing fun arts and crafts projects. Since we both love crafting, this happens to work out perfectly for a summer plan. We spend a lot of time hanging out on a beach and not always into being in the water. In today’s blog post, I share some of my favorite craft kits….many of which can be thrown in a beach/pool/travel bag without taking up much room. They can keep kids entertained while traveling, at restaurants or on rainy day.  Many of these are intended for school-age children and work on higher-level skills….mostly executive functioning skills such as focus, attention, sequencing, organization and managing frustration when challenged.

Aquabeads-I blogged about these sets a while ago and even though my daughter has outgrown them, I am still obsessed with them…especially as a therapeutic activity.  Kids get to make cute little collectable toys or jewelry by placing the correct color beads on the plate with a template underneath.  One of the things I like about this is that you can use your fingers (great for developing grasping skills!) or use the bead pencil that kids can fill up with multiple beads to make placing them easier and faster.  Once all of the beads are in place, kids use a little spray bottle which makes the beads stick together.  There are so many fun themes to choose including Tsum Tsums, Disney characters, Calico Critters and SO many others!  Not only is this great for working on developing fine motor skills, it helps develop hand-eye coordination, visual motor and perceptual skills, visual tracking, focus, attention, organization and motor planning.

Bead Weaver-this bead loome is great for older children who want to up their jewelry making skills. Kids can weave bracelets, headbands, keychains and much more using glass beads.  This set comes complete with the loome, loads of glass beads, thread and the needle tool. I watched a couple of You Tube videos to figure out how to use it and if I could learn from a video, so can kids who have learned how to do so much from them!  In addition to working on executive functioning skills such as focus, attention, organization, sustaining and shifting attention and dealing with frustration, this tool also works on improving bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills and fine motor skills. Another great thing is that kids master this and are able to create jewelry or other things, their confidence increases making them more willing to keep trying more challenging activities.

Arts And Crafts Supply Library-I am obsessed with all the products from Kid Made Modern.  If you have a child who loves creating, you have to check out all of their products.  I am a big fan of open-ended activities for my daughter and this Arts and Crafts Supply Library is perfect for that.  This set comes with loads and loads of craft supplies in a sturdy carrying case that holds everything in little compartments.  The set includes beads, sequins, pom poms, felt pieces, googly eyes, wooden discs, pipe cleaners, scissors, craft sticks and SO much more.  The supplies invite a child to use their imagination and create whatever their hearts desire including murals, jewelry, keychains, etc..  In addition to encouraging creativity, the Arts and Crafts Supply Library is great for working on developing fine motor and in-hand manipulation skills, improves bilateral coordination, visual motor and perceptual skills and works on developing executive functioning skills such as focus, attention, organization, time management and motor planning.

Super Easy Friendship Bracelet Kit-I spend much of my free time knitting which means that I spend an awful lot of time in yarn stores. While searching for yarn one day at Purl Soho, I discovered their friendship bracelet kits and fell in love and have been giving them out as gifts ever since. Each set contains enough material for 5-12 bracelets and comes 5 yards of Chinese Knotting Cord, a safety pin, the pattern for two different friendship bracelets and a sturdy storage case.  There are 5 color waves to choose from. Making friendship bracelets is great for working on fine motor and grasping skills, encourages bilateral coordination, motor planning, hand-eye coordination, visual motor and perceptual skills and develops executive functioning skills such as focus, attention, organizational and sequencing skills. Additionally, they make perfect gifts for kids to give friends.

The Loome Tool-I’m on a bit of a kick here, but I am a sucker for things that work on developing fine motor skills and encourage friendship at the same time. I’m also intrigued by things that will help me use up my excessive yarn supply! I was first introduced to the Loome Tool at a holiday fair in Brooklyn as a pom-pom maker and I fell in love with it! I have been using it ever since to add pom-pom-poms to my knitted hats but now that my daughter has more patience, we are using it for more than just that. This little tool (and there are a bunch of different versions to choose from) has SO many uses and is such a great on-the-go crafting tool. In addition to being a pom-pom maker, kids can make tassels, friendship bracelets, small weavings and cords. The website has amazing tutorials that you can watch with your children and help them learn how to do all the things this tool allows them to. By watching the videos, kids not only learn how to make some super fun things (building confidence and self-esteem) but work on developing a ton of executive functioning skills such as focus, sustaining attention, organization, frustration management and so many more. Additionally, kids work on improving fine motor and in-hand manipulation skills, bilateral coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills.

OffBits-for kids who love Legos but are ready for an increased challenge, you should check out the OffBits. In addition to being just awesome, I like how these sets are a bit smaller and easier to take with you on the go. I discovered these when I was looking for something for some of my older kids who needed to work on improving fine motor/in-hand manipulation skills and developing executive functioning skills. Kids get to build robots and vehicles using a variety of screws, nuts, bolts and other hardware bits and pieces. They can use their hands as tools or use the multi-purpose tool that comes with each set. What’s nice about OffBits is that the kits is that kids can follow step-by-step directions to create what is recommended or they can make their own creations combining different sets. In addition to improving executive functioning and fine motor skills, OffBits work on improving hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills and encourages creativity and imagination.

Mixed By Me Thinking Putty Kits-while make your own slime is the thing, I happen to come from a home where my little girl hates slime. She typically jumps on the current trends but not this one. What she does like is putty and happens to be obsessed with all things Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty. So while everyone else has been making slime with a million different recipes, my girl has been mixing her own putty using the Mixed By Me Thinking Putty Kits. There are two sets to choose from, Glow in the Dark and Holographic. Each kit comes with enough supplies to make 5 tins of their own Thinking Putty, including putty, tins, tin labels, colored pencils and the special ingredients to make them sparkly or glow in the dark. In addition to being great for working on developing fine motor and grasping skills and increasing grasp strength, these sets encourage creativity and imagination skills by coming up with special names/colors for your creations.

Orb Micro-Mosaics-for anyone who reads my blogs/annual holiday gift guides, you know my love of the Orb Factory Sticky Mosaic kits. While many of my older kids still love them, I wanted to find something a bit more challenging and “grown-up” looking. No surprise that Orb came up with something amazing…Orb Micro-Mosaics. Instead of matching stickers to numbers, kids create stone-like mosaics by pressing the sticky micro pebbles into the correct spaces. Each set allows kids to create a poster, door hanger, picture frame and magnets. Kids can work on increasing grasp strength and manipulation skills, hand-eye coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills and a slew of executive functioning skills such as focus, attention, planning, organization, flexible thinking and so many more. This also requires children to be patient and control their frustration when things get challenging. In the end, kids end up with some really cool looking products that will make them feel really good about themselves.

Craft-tastic Empower Poster Kit-one of the things I find for many children of this age is that they tend to be more self-conscious and sometimes have a hard time knowing their personal strengths.  I LOVE this poster kit because it makes kids focus on finding their strengths and identifying what makes them special and unique.  The kit comes stocked with a long list of inspirational words, poster board and glue and tissue squares to decoupage the poster to make it their own.  This is not only great for building confidence, self-esteem and positive self-thinking, it is great for working on improving fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, visual motor and perceptual skills all while encouraging creativity.

XYRON Creative Station-this was one of my impulse purchases from a weekly trip to Paper Source that my daughter insists we make. It also happens to be one of my favorite impulse buys and I have recommended it to a lot of my friends who are looking for a gift for a school-age child. My daughter loves stickers and loves to draw and color. The Creative Station is meant for many things but we have been using it as a sticker maker and it’s been awesome.  I have used it with my kids at work and they love it too! While this has many purposes, I use it primarily for making stickers. I have kids either find things that they want to cut out or have them draw pictures and color them in. Once they have finished cutting/coloring, they stick the picture in the machine, turn the handle and the sticker back attaches to the picture. This is not only a great tool to work on improving cutting and graphomotor skills, it also works on improving bilateral coordination, focus, attention, organization and motor planning skills. At the same time, kid’s confidence and self-esteem increase as they create their unique stickers.

These are just a handful of the many craft sets that you can use with your older children to help keep their brain working during these school-free summer months. Since many of the families I work with travel these last few weeks of summer, I chose many of them based on the ability to throw it in a bag to also keep kids entertained (screen-free) while traveling. Do you have any great arts and craft kids that your big kids love? I’m always on the lookout for new stuff for both work and for my own child. If you are looking for some specific ideas that target specific goals, let me know and I will share some other ideas. I’m always a click away and love hearing from all of you!

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