Craft kits are a good option for days spent stuck indoors. But it can be hard to tell which are genuinely engaging and which ones will just clutter up your house for years to come. So, we asked seven crafting experts to recommend their favourite sets and supplies for kids aged 2 to 12. From colouring and sculpture, to weaving, robotics and baking — there’s something to suit a variety of interests.
For ages 2 and up
“Children will be kept busy colouring in these beautiful designs,” says Annalees Lim, author of the Happily Ever Crafter activity book series. “They then get to spend many more hours enjoying wearing them and showing off to their friends.” The top is made from a lightweight jersey blend and the fabric pens use UV ink which sets once air cured for 24 hours or ironed by a parent.
For ages 3 and up
“The colourful kit fosters rich creativity” says Mari Ono, founder of Happy Origami Paper and author of Origami for Kids. The soft, mouldable dough is very easy for small hands to sculpt, while older children will enjoy following the instructions in the project book. Once they’re done, simply leave the creations to air dry for 36 hours to fully harden.
This nature activity subscription box also got a mention in our guide to the best educational toys. It has earned its spot in this list thanks to a recommendation from Lim, who says it is “well worth the commitment.” “The seasonal crafts and activities will encourage your little ones to learn all about the nature that exists just outside their door and beyond,” she says. If you sign up now, you’ll get your first box sent to you at the end of April.
During lockdown, London-based ceramic artist Sarah Core is posting out parcels of air dry clay with project sheets and online group workshops. Her packages can be sent to addresses across England and they come recommended by Zoe Dennington, learning and participation manager at Crafts Council. [Editor’s note: This price does not include shipping costs.]
For ages 4 and up
Hannah Pearson is director of Kids Arts Academy, which is running online crafting classes during the lockdown. She recommends this stamp set as it includes six colours of ink, all of which are machine washable, “so no worries about making a mess that can’t be undone,” she says.
For kids who are more interested in STEM than painting, Dennington suggests sparking their creativity with a Tech Will Save Us robotics, coding and circuits kit. This one involves using dough to make moving robots and race cars. It includes access to an interactive storybook app, which is full of ideas to keep kids busy inventing for months to come.
“I love all crafts, but especially if you can eat the results,” says Lim. “Craft and Crumb make the most delightful bake and craft gift boxes for kids. Learn to bake like a master and then enjoy making a craft while you wait for the oven to do its job. As a bonus they are eco-friendly and plastic-free. Guilt-free baking at its best.” Craft + Crumb also offer vegan dairy-free sweetie strings and popcorn kits and gluten-free cake kits.
“You can’t go wrong with these guys,” says Emma Scott-Child, author of Quick Crafts for Parents Who Think They Hate Craft. “Sticking googly eyes on anything is funny, right? Especially if you’re 4.”
For ages 6 and up
“I instantly fell in love with the stunning illustrations in this magazine,” says Lim. “It is on another level to other kids’ magazines I’ve seen and is filled with stories and activities all created by amazing artists — it not only looks amazing but the content is so engaging, it will keep your little readers busy for hours.”
Younger children will enjoy wrapping colourful yarn to make the five pompom animals in this kit recommended by Dennington. (For a more complex version of this craft check out the Donut PomPom Maker below.)
“The experience of tie dyeing can give children a sense of accomplishment,” says Ono. “Small children can enjoy dyeing with adults, and children over the age of 8 can enjoy dyeing alone.” This set includes a bag and cushion cover, so you don’t need to have a spare white T-shirt to hand. [Editor’s note: This product is currently out of stock.]
These pens will wipe off smooth surfaces, but are permanent on porous ones. So they can be used to draw pictures on windows and mirrors that can be wiped off afterwards. Or if you want to permanently decorate porcelain plates, you will need to varnish afterwards. “It’s great having something they’ve made that they can then use every day,” says Pearson. “Making tea-light holders, decorating mugs, or creating toothbrush holders.”
For ages 7 and up
“The kaleidoscope has been a popular toy in Japan for over 200 years,” says Ono. With this kit they are “easy to make, regardless of your child’s age.”
For ages 12 and up
Fantasy film is a liquid acrylic resin that allows you to create transparent 3-D models. “This is a very cool product, if you’ve never done it before, the results are amazing,” says Cressall. “You dip the wire into the liquid and it comes out with an acetate film — a bit like a bubble, but it’s permanent, once you’ve let it air dry for 20 minutes or so”.
With this tiny building set recommended by Dennington, kids can do metal work without the need for extensive kit or strong adhesive. They simply fold the miniature brass castle into shape and then can pretend to be ruler of their own tiny kingdom.
Dennington recommends this solid beech pompom maker as it has sections that allow ambitious designs to be made easily — especially when following the steps laid out in free tutorials, such as this one on how to make cute pompom animals.
For older kids who want to marble more than just paper Cressall recommends this brand as “the effects are stunning and it’s really cheap.” “Using the inks needs to be supervised because you don’t want to get them all over your hands, but the effects are very cool. They are very good on ceramics, wood and even phone cases.”
Pearson recommends this transparent water-colour ink powder “if you’re feeling adventurous and you’re not afraid of making a bit of a mess.” She says it is great for projects such as decorating a lampshade, but she advises having a practise run first and wearing gloves as it is highly pigmented! The packs come with instructions and ideas to get you started.
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