When your kids are home for the summer, you want to keep craft projects cool and entertaining. That can be tricky if you have children of different ages.
You don’t want the older ones getting bored with projects that are too simple, but you don’t want the younger ones getting frustrated with crafts that are too complex. The solution?
Making a centerpiece.
Every room in the house can have its own centerpiece. Arrange one on the kitchen counter, another on the dining room table, and another on the bathroom counter or shelf. Put one in the living room and one in the family room, with others on the TV or bookcase or computer desk. Each bedroom can have its own work of art. There’s always room for a fresh creation, and older ones can be set aside or deconstructed if they use materials needed elsewhere.
What should it contain?
Start with a candle at the center, which gives children something to work around. You might choose a luxurious candle surrounded with colorful potpourri. Even a simple votive candle provides the opportunity for some activity.
Why does that matter? Because activity is part of the fun. Some children are pleased by simply looking at a centerpiece, but others want more active involvement. For movement-oriented kids, lighting a candle and then blowing it out a little later offers the chance for physical participation as well as visual appreciation.
As for other ingredients, the only limit is imagination.
Kids who enjoy visual arts might cut out photos of dancers, horses, superheroes or whatever else they like and arrange those among fresh or paper flowers.
Those who enjoy words might print favorites on slips of paper, wine them around a pencil and drop the curly slips into a glass dish.
Children who enjoy working in the kitchen or garage might choose a variety of tools and group them into clusters. Here’s a chance for their creativity to shine.
What about a theme?
Let each of the kids choose their own theme, possibly with a title to match if they’re old enough to dream up colorful names. Some possibilities include:
• Art Supplies
: You’ll find these all over the house. Along with using traditional supplies like colored pencils, crayons, paper in different shapes and hues, clay, glitter and other decorative materials, offer your artists some other intriguing choices. Strands of wire from the toolbox, swatches of fabric from the sewing cabinet, or game pieces from an unused chess set can all take on new life in a creative centerpiece.
• Gifts of Nature: Finding materials to include in a centerpiece can provide an entertaining walk around the neighborhood. Take a new look at leaves on a backyard tree. Gather different textured stones from the path beside a parking lot. Flowers are always pretty, of course, but don’t forget about less traditional items like branches, stones, seashells and other natural objects collected near home or while on vacation.
Summer is the perfect time for celebrating patriotism, sunshine, and sometimes even a wedding. Other possibilities are someone’s birthday, or a holiday coming later in the year when the centerpiece will make its debut. Kids feeling bored with summer can enjoy planning for Halloween or Christmas, then seeing their work again when it comes out of storage in another few months.
Imagine a centerpiece created in a teacup, a sardine can or a tiny basket. Imagine one created in a galvanized steel tub, a traditional red wagon, or an enormous straw hat. Choosing materials to fit a container that’s exquisitely small or impressively large can be a fun challenge, and children who aren’t ready for calculating measurements can go for a freewheeling combination of sizes.
: Particularly when the work of art is destined for a specific location, color can be an important factor. Some creations might exhibit a wide-ranging array of tones, while others might follow a single theme -- such as all white materials ranging from lace to slips of paper to cotton balls, or a palette focused on a limited variety like earth tones, metallic or pastel hues, shades of blue, and so on.
: A centerpiece created in honor of someone special, whether a family member or longtime friend or simply the child in charge of creating the design, can feature trinkets with a particular appeal to that person. Drawings of favorite items / people / hobbies / destinations work equally well, and so do collectibles that someone might rarely examine on a shelf but will enjoy seeing in a whole new display.
Regardless of how the finished product turns out, capturing it in a photo will provide fond memories in years to come. And you might wind up with a centerpiece that reappears at family gatherings -- even after its creator has grown up and become a parent whose children will enjoy making centerpieces of their own.