Friday, August 14, 2009

TUTORIAL: Craft Kits for Kids

New Craft Kit Birthday Present

Craft kits are probably our most favorite present to give to friends. In the past year we've made quite a few for friends of Lil Mermaid and Hot Rod. We love giving them and knowing that once they open the bag, their imagination takes off. And putting together the kits has become a fun family activity as well.

First we start with the bag. It can really be any kind of bag you want. A few years ago a friend gave us a hug supply of inexpensive canvas bags and they just happened to be the perfect size for the kits. I've seen some just like them at Dharma Trading. We like to freezer paper stencil our bags. I try to have a few boy and girl designs already on hand. But I can also tailor the design to each individual kid's taste.
S's stenciled bags
More stenciled bags here. I cut the stencils and Hot Rod and Lil' Mermaid can easily paint them. I use fabric paint so they can survive some heavy and possibly messy craft usage. You can do an internet search for lots and lots of tutorials on freezer paper stenciling. It is VERY easy to do. Of course, your bag can be anything you want it to be: a sewn fabric bag a recycled creation, an old paper party bag re-purposed....

Next, we fill it up with fun. There is no limit to what you can put in these craft kits. Really, anything can become a work of art - especially with a child's imagination at the helm! Here are just some of the things we include in our craft kits:
New Craft Kit Birthday Present Up Close

Inside a gallon freezer bag
I stuff: paper lunch bags, thin paper plates, feathers, pipe cleaners, scrap paper, foam sheets, 3x5 or 4x6 cards, coin envelopes, stickers, labels,small stencils, mini notebooks, paper doilies, mini glitter glues, glue stick, foam brushes, a colored pencil set, a small watercolor set, felt cut outs......Sometimes I gather up small craft kits that I already have on hand (like mini perler bead sets or a wood shape coloring kit) and include one of those as well.

In small zip-lock sandwich or snack sized bags I put all the little things: beads, buttons, tiny jewels, paper clips, especially funny shaped ones, brads, foam shapes, googly eyes, pom-poms, ribbon bits, tiny yarn balls, rick-rack, craft thread, fabric/paper flowers, wooden craft sticks, peg clothespins, spring clothespins, tiny wood pieces and shapes, fabric scraps (cotton, chenille, burlap, tulle netting, etc....) felt scraps (sometimes cut into simple shapes), oh it really is endless....

This is what it should look like all packaged up but lately I have been spilling over and not able to zip up the gallon sized bag. ooops....
Girl's Craft Kit Packaged Up

Sometimes I do a theme, like this rainbow bag:
Rainbow Birthday Party Gift

Or a bag more specifically for a girl:
Girls Craft Kit Spread Out

Or more specifically for a boy:
Boys Craft Kit Spread Out

And sometimes we put together very tiny kits (in a zip-lock sandwich bag) that we give to little friends when we are invited over to visit or for swaps, like these we made when we participated in a kid's ATC swap:

Mini Craft Kits going to S & R's ATC swap buddies

Now, this may look like a whole lotta stuff and maybe even kinda expensive. But if you already craft with your kids or have many stashes of your own then it really isn't. All of my fabric, ribbon, thread and yarn remnants go into our craft kit drawer. Same with scrap papers of odd sizes or even papers that I purge out of my supply because I don't like them anymore. And I am embarrased to say, but I have a HUGE, yes HUGE, scrapbook and paper crafting area of my craft room that is filled with lots of little things that work out wonderfully in the craft kits.

We also use lots of office supply items (kids seem to really like those things) that we get in bulk at Wal-Mart or Staples or the Dollar Tree. secret is THE DOLLAR TREE. They actually have quite a few craft items there and many of them in large bulk bags. We also raid their office, party, holiday, home supplies and school supply sections when needed. That's also where we get our baggies and lunch sacks.

Right now is a great time to stock up on school supply stuff to include in the kits,like markers or crayons or colored pencils and watercolor sets at your local stores. Most are under $1 right now! And don't forget to check out the after holiday sales or discontinued craft sales at places like Michael's or Joann's.

I CANNOT tell you how much we LOVE putting together these kits. And it is a meaningful, thoughtful gift that truly keeps on giving. We have been privileged to see many, many craft projects made from these kits when we visit our little friends.


  1. Danika LOVES her bag! It turned out to be a bigger hit than the Hannah doll. Love your ideas. Hope you don't mind that I'm telling people about your blog :)

  2. Okayyyyy...if you must! :-) Thanks, Becky!

  3. Wow! what a nice bog it's really amazing, if you want to know about kids building kits then check it.

  4. Very fun! Will have to make up some bags to take along whenever we go someplace.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks! I'm the youth director of a church, and my high schoolers are going to borrow your idea to make "chemo kits" for kids at the children's hospital. AWESOME!