By Lauren Flynn Kelly 

For those of us struggling to entertain bored kids or occupy our own idle hands this summer, I urge you to channel your inner camp counselor and dive into arts and crafts. The challenge is you must use only items around your home. 

Following this rule, my daughters and I have completed (with varying degrees of success) at least a dozen fun projects while safely isolating during the pandemic. Here are a few such projects you can hopefully take on yourself! 

Mosaic garden stones. Take those old chipped plates outside, set them on the ground in a plastic bag and pound them with a hammer! Seriously, I let my kids do this while wearing giant sunglasses. Use an adhesive ( thinset mortar works well), to glue down leftover backsplash tiles, broken pottery or pretty stones to an existing stone paver, or make your own paver using mixing cement and a disposable tray, and gently push your mosaic design in place. If you used an existing paver, use sanded grout to fill in the gaps and let it dry before spraying grout sealer and displaying your stones in the garden.  

Pottery shards and bathroom tiling supplies turned two old pavers into stepping stones. PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren Flynn Kelly

Fairy gardens. Pop solar twinkle lights in an old jar, hot glue moss and sticks together to make a cabin, or set a path of tiny stones winding out from a tree trunk. Regardless of what they’re made of, miniature dwellings will delight both fairies and small passersby. Using old clay from a school project, my 9-year-old made tiny beds and chairs for our store-bought fairy figurines and set up little scenes outside in the containers that LOL Surprise! dolls come in. I played along and made a small door and some faux logs and mushrooms, but after getting rained on too many times, they fell apart. 

Plastic toy packaging gets a second life as a fairy house.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren Flynn Kelly

Amateur embroidery. You know all those jewelry-making kits that your kids received as birthday gifts and are sitting half-used in the closet? They might contain embroidery floss, and while it may not be top quality, putting it to use is a great way to get kids familiar with needlework. If you don’t have an embroidery hoop, you can cut up a used yogurt container. (I’m not kidding; search YouTube for “DIY embroidery hoop.”) Find a needle with a large eye and some old linen or cotton fabric and practice your stitches (again, see YouTube), or just do some free hand straight-stitching. My 7-year-old took to the latter option once she realized it was like drawing on cloth. 

Mason jar pin cushion. This is another easy needle-and-thread project. Loosely sew around the perimeter of a circle of fabric, gather it to make a shallow bowl shape, fill with a handful of cotton or Poly-Fil stuffing and glue it to a felt disc the size of the lid. Or let help your child cut two scraps of fabric into a creature of their own imagining, hand-sew it and stuff it for a DIY lovey.

DIY jewelry. While you’ve still got that needle threaded with embroidery floss, string a necklace of beads or sew a strand of old buttons together. With flexible packing foam, we made some cool wrist cuffs by gluing fabric around strips of foam and sewing the ends together with two buttons. 

Cardboard box city. Washer wind chimes. Baking soda bath bombs. Milk carton bird houses. The list goes on. With a little glue or thread, you can pretty much stick anything together and turn it into something else. After brushing our shedding cat, my daughter even used a fistful of fur to model a tiny cat! Weird, yes. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

Now let me hear your ideas! Please share photos of your recent DIY creations by tagging @starlessskyediy on Instagram and using the hashtag #hvlcrafts.