There's only so many times you can visit the children's museum. Change things up (and avoid schlepping the stroller to and from the house!) with these DIY craft ideas and engaging activities that are as fun as they are educational. And if you want some super seasonal ideas, check out our 50+ fall craft ideas.
Get in touch with your roots via a hands-on genealogical project. Dot the print-out template with thumbprint leaves, then start mapping extended relatives galore.
We love a two-for-one activity: First, paint poppy abstract shapes with watercolors, and then have older kids cut the paper into strips and fold them into wearable art.
To you, it's just glitter; to them it's magical pixie dust. Sprinkle some over your pint-sized garden and wait for the fairies to come out and play!
These paper planes are perfect for kids — just fold, and let your imagination fly. Increase the challenge by making some cardboard targets for the planes to fly through.
When skipping through the sprinkler loses its charm, pull out these homemade spiky sponges for a riff on water balloons (that won't cause bruising).
Handprint turkey, step aside: A new paper craft can rule the roost. Add string to the cup's sides, and you've got yourself a feathered cap, too.
This mom takes rock painting a step further: After the paint's dry, the images on the stones become characters in a story everyone can tell together.
When the fun of folding origami frogs is over, extend playtime with sidewalk games to see which hopper can jump the furthest.
Strips of scrapbooking paper look super cute when rolled into beads, but you can also have your kids experiment with wrapping paper, magazine clippings, or newsprint for a craft you can do without going to the store.
Transform your salad spinner into a carnival-style spin art machine. Just make sure you fill squeeze bottles with washable paint, in case splatters land outside of the coffee filter canvas.
Take your washi tape stash to the floor to create a colorful, customizable race track for tiny cars — and a place to park them when playtime is over.
Because the only thing better than making a mom-approved mess is doing so with the extra fun of polka dots. (Can you guess what they're made from?)
File this under genius parenting hacks: A piece of rain gutter picked up at the hardware store becomes a slick race track when you add water and an adorable soap boat.
Because nothing says "summer" quite like a bucket of water balloons and America's pastime.
Decorate twigs with embroidery floss, beads and jingle bells to add a bit of whimsy to your yard.
Celebrate your kid's love of doodling by making temporary tattoos out of her own art. It's a project that bends (but doesn't break!) your mess-minimizing rules.
Transform a windowed pencil case into an armchair treasure hunt with this no-sew project.
In a bit of bubble magic, a dish soap solution morphs into a crazy-cool growing snake.
It's a twist on the classic science fair exhibit: Bend pipe cleaners into letters or shapes, and watch them grow sparkles overnight in a borax solution.
Don't worry — we're not suggesting you surrender your patio doors to your kids' artistic ambitions. This activity uses a clever dollar-store find and just water, so it's totally removable.
This three-ingredient recipe is a little bit art, a little bit science. The paintable foam (which kids can pipe out of plastic bags) hardens overnight into super-cool, puffed-up masterpieces.
Thrift store finds become a backyard music station (and save your everyday cookware from your little maestro's enthusiastic playing).
There's just something about sparkly crayons in celestial shapes that makes coloring time extra exciting.
Fashion straws into 3D shapes for an activity that's one part science, one part silly fun with bubbles.
It's amazing how a piece of paper loaded up with watercolor doodles, stickers and pictures from thrifted design books becomes instant art when framed.
Fold painted paper plates into the perfect size for little hands before you spend the day berry picking.
Let your kids dip into your stash of never-going-to-wear-again nail polish for an artsy afternoon.
This explosive science experiment (disguised as permission to make a mess) is a lot more palatable when contained in a glass dish.
Collect shells on the beach and make them into a fun game that jogs her mathematical memory.