12 easy art and craft activities for primary school children

17 April 2020

Two brothers with origami octopus

Admitted arithmetic defeat? Feeling phonics fatigue? Put homeschooling aside briefly and keep them busy with some crafts ideas for kids instead.

From projects for Lego lovers to makes that keep Minecraft-mad kids busy, we’ve curated these art and craft ideas to keep primary school children occupied at home. Read on for easy and inexpensive paint, clay, and model-making craft ideas for kids.

Here are 12 easy craft projects to do at home with children.

Paint projects for primary schoolers

Painted fox pebble

1. Painted rock treasure hunt

What you'll need:

  • Flattish stones big enough to paint
  • Oil based paint (see on Amazon) or paint pens
  • Sharpies

There’s something very satisfying about painting a whole load of pebbles. They could paint their family on them, or fairy houses or dinosaurs…whatever they like. Paint is good for background and Sharpies are great for adding detail when they're dry. Then, hide them around the garden and let someone else find them.

2. Spray gun painting

What you'll need:

  • Washable paint (see on Amazon)
  • Ziplock bags
  • Water pistols or spray bottles
  • Large paper
  • An easel (if you have one)

Hang your paper on your easel, attach with pegs to a washing line or pin to the fence. The key here is to do this activity outside! Things are going to get messy.

Mix different-coloured paints with water in your ziplock bags to a ‘fireable’ consistency and seal them ready to go. Snip one corner off the plastic bags and let the kids carefully pour the paint into the pistols, before letting loose on the paper. If you want to get arty, use some masking tape on the paper to draw out their initials or a simple picture before they go to town with the paint. When it dries, peal the tape of to reveal the images in the negative space.

Shout educational things about Jackson Pollock in vain at them while they ignore you. Let the paint dry and admire their handiwork. They can frame their prints or use them for covering books or even as wrapping paper.

Junk and recycling craft ideas

Craft robots

3. Make robots

What you'll need:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Nuts and bolts (for older kids)
  • Yoghurt pots, tins, old cardboard, foil, bottle lids and any other clean recycling you can lay your hands on
  • Bits of card, paper and glitter etc for decorating

It’s Star Wars Day on 4 May but you can make robots any time and this is a great project to let them get stuck into all on their own, while you sit down and, erm, don’t make droids out of rubbish. A yoghurt pot or similar is a good place to start, then let them glue bits on, snip bits off and cover bits with foil. You’ll have a robot army before you know it. Just what you always wanted.

4. Homemade executive toys for their desk

What you'll need:

  • Shoe box
  • Scissors or Stanley knife with help
  • Thread
  • Five large wooden beads (like the ones in threading sets. See on Amazon)
  • Tape

The real name for ‘those doinky balls on shiny desks in offices’ is a Newton’s Cradle (see, there’s a physics lesson in here you can sneak in if you’re smart!). But, most of all, kids just love the idea of feeling important enough to have one of these and make any desk into a home office. Discard the box lid and cut large holes in each of the remaining faces to give you a ‘frame’ shape. Stand the box on one of its long sides and start threading the beads onto threads.

The thread needs to be long enough to secure the bead to hang in the middle of the box and then be taped to either the long side or the top edge of the box. Start by hanging the middle bead equidistant from each end and then work outwards, adding two beads either side. Make sure they hang close enough that they can knock each other when they swing.

Lego craft projects

Lego

5. Mini figure snow globes

What you'll need:

  • Lego mini figure and some bricks
  • A jam jar
  • Superglue
  • Glycerine (optional but makes it look cooler. See on Amazon)
  • Glitter (the chunkier the better)

Build your mini figure and stand it on a few small bricks (to give it height in the jar), finishing with a 6×4 brick as the base. Glue this brick to the inside of the jam jar lid. Leave to dry completely. Sprinkle a teaspoon of glitter into the bottom of the jar. If using glycerine, add a few teaspoons of that too. Fill the jar to the brim with water – you want as little air as possible in it. Carefully screw the lid onto the jar. Tight. Shake it about!

6. Lego soap

What you'll need:

  • Lego bricks
  • Glycerine soap (available on Amazon)
  • Moulds (available on Amazon, but silicone baking moulds would do fine)

Decide on your Lego soap composition and pick the bricks you’re going to need for each soap bar. Melt the soap according to the instructions (often you can just microwave it). Tip in the bricks you’re using and stir it all together to thoroughly coat each brick. Pour into your mould. Leave to cool for a few hours.

Paper projects for primary schoolers

Origami stars

7. Origami everything

What you'll need:

  • Paper in various colours and patterns
  • Patience

If you don’t have an origami book with ideas knocking around, just have a look on the internet. There are so many instructables for origami, whether they want to make paper ninja stars or strings of origami hearts or stars for their bedrooms. So simple yet so satisfying.

8. Paper aeroplane launcher

What you'll need:

  • Wood offcuts (rectangular-ish pieces; one flat one small chunky bit)
  • Two nails
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer
  • A sturdy rubber band
  • Paper for the planes
  • Paperclips

Strictly this is a woodcraft project, but we’re not splitting hairs. And it involves fun with paper. So. Drive the nails into the flatter piece of wood. A piece about the size of a shoebox is ideal, but it doesn’t matter too much. Knock them in about three inches apart towards one of the short ends.

Glue the chunkier bit of wood underneath where the nails are, so it makes it into a ramp. Fold your planes. Attach a paperclip to the noses. Hook the rubber band around the nails, pull back and use as a launcher for your aeroplanes. Neeeeeeeeoooooow…

Cool crafts for kids

Minecraft blocks

9. DIY real-life Minecraft blocks

What you'll need:

  • Old wooden blocks (you can repurpose some ones from babyhood or buy craft wood blocks)
  • PVA glue (See on Amazon)
  • Paper for printing out the patterns (see below) or pens to draw your own creeper patterns and more
  • Felt tips (optional)

This is so meta our heads hurts. Real life blocks representing Minecraft world objects that resemble real life.

Make paper templates to fit the square faces of your blocks. You can either download Minecraft block printables or just draw on them with felt tips to represent creepers, bricks, sandstone, diamonds and more. Spread PVA glue on each surface of your blocks and stick the paper pieces to them. Done!

10. Homemade squishies

What you'll need:

  • Thick coloured paper
  • Sharpies
  • Sellotape
  • Scissors
  • Pillow filling, sponge bits or stuffing from an old toy

Cut out a large shape, about the size of your palm, of anything you like. Hearts, clouds, emojis and pieces of fruit all work well. Choose your colour wisely and add details with Sharpies or stick on other pieces of coloured card. Cut out a ‘back’ piece to match.

Slowly tape it together covering every inch of the paper with Sellotape by starting with a strip at the bottom and slowly working up. Do the back too, taping the two pieces together as you go and leaving a hole somewhere. Stuff the squishy with your stuffing and tape up the hole. If it ‘unsquishes’ too fast, try pricking a few holes in it with a needle.

Modelling clay crafts for kids

Child playing with clay

11. Air-dry clay pots

What you'll need:

  • Air-dry clay (See on Amazon)
  • Stamps and ink pad
  • Rolling pin
  • Craft knife
  • A small bowl

Lovely little bowls for them to put all their treasures in. This is a good project to do when you’re wondering what the hell you once bought all those stamp and ink sets for. Plus air-dry clay doesn’t need cooking so slightly older kids can do this all by themselves.

Roll out your air-dry clay. Choose a stamp and ink pad, ink up your stamp and then push it into the clay, covering the surface. Cut out a round shape using your bowl to trace around. Put your clay circle into the bowl and gently press down to form the shape. Leave to dry overnight.

12. Polymer clay bangles

What you'll need:

  • Polymer clay in various colours (See on Amazon)
  • An empty tin can

We’re big fans of polymer clay because it makes so little mess and involves no painting afterwards.

Make a flat strip of polymer clay by rolling out several colours. Rainbows with seven strips of colour rolled together look cool, but they can just as easily get creative. Wrap the strip around an empty tin can and blend to make the join. Put the can in the oven at the temperature and for the time indicated on the instructions. Remove, leave to cool, and slide the bangle off the tin can.

Crafting essentials

If you’re new to this whole crafting thing, don't worry. You don’t need much in the house to conjure up some great activities and most can be pulled together using kitchen or office supplies. But, if you’re looking to stock up, there are some supplies that will take crafting with primary school-aged children to the next level. Here's what Mumsnet users recommend:

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