This is my ultimate guide to the 7 best homemade craft recipes to keep the kids entertained. These DIY crafts are all cheap to make, very easy and can be pulled together quickly for all your last minute sanity savers. You will probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen pantry so there is no need to make a dash to the shops. I find any of these perfect for after school activities when the kids start chanting ‘I’m bored’ or you can make a whole day of play out of just one of them by being a little creative with how you use it. These are all suitable for most ages – the little ones wont need a trip to the hospital if they eat some and the big kids will get just as much fun out of it. Dive in, get messy and have a bit of fun with your kids.
Homemade Playdough Recipe
I have made a few different playdough recipes in my time, including the conditioner one (it was very soft but just left everyone’s hands smelling too much) and even a gooey slimey one, but this is my favourite by far. It is simple, quick, no cooking involved and works every time!
2 cups plain flour
½ cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons oil (any will do)
1 ½ cups boiling water
Combine your flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil together. Mix your food colouring into 1 ½ cups boiling water. Mixing your colour into the water stops the colour getting all over you and everything else! Pour the coloured water slowly into your flour mixture as you stir. Once combined, knead your dough until it becomes smooth and not sticky.
If it is sticky, add a little more flour, if it is too dry add a little more water. But go slowly as a little bit goes a long way. And obviously, let it cool down before giving it to your kids.
If you like really shiney playdough you can add a few drops of glycerine to your mix. I have also mixed in glitter for a bit of fun before too.
Make sure the kids wash their hands before they play with it. This will help keep it clean and last longer. Store in an airtight container or zip lock bag. I don’t, but I know some people like to keep theirs in the fridge.
Homemade Kinetic Sand Recipe
Kinetic sand is really popular at the moment and I know that a lot of people cringe at the price, especially since whenever the kids play with it you inevitable lose half a cup of it on the ground. It is cheap and easy to make your own and you wont be worried about spillage.
You could grab a bucket of sand next time you are at the beach or buy a bag ready to go. If you collect your own sand be sure to give it a good wash. Sift out any big chunks of beachy stuff. Pour hot water over it and stir it up and soak for a little bit, then rinse with cold water until water comes clear. Spread it out to dry. It needs to be really dry so if you are having trouble with this you can just put it in your oven for a few hours on a low temperature. I find it much easier to just buy a bag of fine play sand, it’s pretty cheap and will leave you with leftovers for next time.
2 cups sand
2 cups plain flour
¾ cup oil (I used baby oil but you can use cooking oil)
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon of dish soap
Add your dish soap to your water and mix. Add your oil to the flour and stir. Add your soapy water to this. Then add to your sand. Combine well. I find it best to just get stuck in with your hands, or better yet, let the kids do it themselves!
I have heard that you can add some tea tree essential oil to keep it clean and mould free if you intend on keeping it a long time. I simply keep mine in a well sealed container. If it is dry when you go to use it just add a splash of water.
I still find this a little messy so we use this one outside so there is less cleaning up.
Homemade Coloured Rice Recipe
My girls love to play in their little kitchen and will often mimic what I do when I’m cooking. This coloured rice is just a bit of fun. Mixing the colours in is an activity in itself.
½ cup white rice
¼ teaspoon white vinegar
I made a half cup each of four different colours. Simply pop your rice, vinegar and colouring in a zip lock bag and shake to mix it all together. Spread the rice out on a sheet of baking paper and leave it to dry. To speed up the drying process I popped mine in the dehydrator, you could put your oven on low and prop the door open as well.
Store in a well sealed container and be prepared to sweep up the mess when they play with it.
You could also put some in plastic bottles to make musical shakers. Make baby find-an-object bags. Bury treasures in it in a big container to dig for. The options are endless.
Homemade Bubble Mix Recipe
My kids love their bubble machine but the bubble mix can be pretty expensive and these things can go through it pretty quick. It is quick, cheap and easy to make your own mix.
1 cup water
4 tablespoons dish soap
1 tablespoon corn syrup or glycerin
Grab an old bubble mix bottle or an empty drink bottle from your recycle bin. Combine your ingredients and give them a good shake. I usually leave my mix to rest for a couple of days before using it. Not sure why but the bubbles seem to hold longer if the mix is older. But you can use it straight away.
Homemade Kids Paint Recipe
Sometimes painting is a slow and thoughtful process, other days it’s a bit slapdash and messy. This paint recipe is for the slapdash days. It is a bit grainy because of the salt in it so I wouldn’t recommend using it for the artworks you want to keep and hang up. I think it is ideal for finger painting and being super messy with.
1 cup salt
1 cup plain flour
1 cup water
Dissolve the salt in the water to help reduce the graininess of it. Add colouring to the water. Mix together with the flour until it is smooth. Add more water for a thinner consistency.
You can mix it in a ziplock bag or freezer bag to help reduce clean up mess. Then you can simply snip the corner off and drizzle with it or squeeze into your container – an old paint bottle, squeezy bottle, paint dish etc.
This mixture doesn’t really store well, so just make enough to use that day. It is easy to divide the recipe to make as much or as little as you need. We had lots of fun with this and the salt actually looked like sparkles in the paint – win!
Homemade Puffy Paint Recipe
We did this activity as a family one weekend and we had so much fun with it. This recipe made enough for 4 of us to make several paintings each.
1 cup flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Mix your ingredients (not the colouring yet!) in a bowl, adding just enough water to make it like a pancake mix. Divide your mixture into four ziplock bags and add your colouring. Shake and squish them to combine the colour evenly. Snip a tiny corner in the bag and use like an icing bag to squiggle your patterns on your paper. Once you are happy with your masterpiece simply put it in the microwave for 30 seconds and watch it puff up!
Homemade Baked Salt Dough Recipe
Everyone has seen the cute little baby hand and foot prints in salt dough that are often pulled out around mothers and fathers day every year. But you can use salt dough for more than this! I made up a batch and made some ‘stones’ which I stamped some words into. I haven’t gotten around to painting them yet but they will make great little reminders for me sitting on my desk or next to my bed. I also made a bunch of small ‘charms’ with cookie cutters that my girls can paint and hang up on ribbons in their windows. Along with a hand full of beads for them to decorate. I have set these aside for a rainy day activity or maybe as something to do in the school holidays.
1 cup salt
1 cup flour
½ cup warm water
Small splash of olive oil (helps make it more flexible to mould)
Mix all of your ingredients together and knead until smooth and stretchy. Mould and cut and make your small creations. Remember to poke holes in things you want to hang or thread on to anything, a cake tester or skewer are perfect for this. Lay your items on a baking tray and bake at 100C for around 2 hours. Your timing will depend on how thick your creations are so just keep an eye on them.
I have heard that you can add 1 spoonful of lemon juice to make it more durable and hard, but I haven’t actually tried this to know how effective it is. I have also heard of people drying their dough in the microwave, on short bursts so you don’t burn it. But again, I haven’t tried this myself. Let me know if either of these work for you.
There you have my 7 Best Homemade Craft Recipes ready for you to get creative with the kids next time they get bored and need a project to keep busy and happy.
Have you ever tried any of these homemade craft recipes?
Do your kids love creative crafts?