Sign up for our Newsletter

61 F
Tampa
Friday, December 2, 2022

Stay Connected

Sign up for our Newsletter

Craft Your Child’s Way to Skills

The kids spend hours inside during Florida’s hot summers. The long summer afternoon thunderstorms often lend themselves to boredom, and finding something to do that is entertaining can be daunting when you have already exhausted your list of arts and crafts.

Instead of doing the same crafts over and over, long rainy days can be the perfect time to teach your kids life skills that they can use as they get older. Even as the weather clears, the long summer days can still be used to learn important life lessons and skill. These skills don’t have to be monumental or difficult, but can come in the form of an afternoon craft or lesson that can cover multiple days. Something as simple as sewing a button can make all the difference in their adult lives. Here are some of the easiest, and most useful, crafts to hone into skills:

Sewing at Any Age

Sewing seems like a thing of the past, but learning to sew and mend can save your children money when they become adults. Learning to sew shouldn’t just be a task taught to the girls, either. By sewing, boys and girls can explore their creative sides and gain experience working on projects together.

When your kids are little, introducing them to needles may seem scary, so starting with sewing buttons is a great way to start. Your local craft store has large plastic needles that are typically used in sewing buttons with yarn into knitted items. Have the kids pick their favorite large buttons and show them how to put the thread– in this case the yarn– into the plastic needle and how to loop it into the holes on the button. If you have an old sweater for them to practice on, that is even better. Let them use the plastic needle to sew buttons onto the old sweater and show them how to tie it when they are done. If you need a refresher on sewing buttons, this tutorial helps.

For older kids who can handle a real needle, show them how to stitch by hand. You can get some old tee-shirts and needle and thread for less than $5 at your local craft store, and show them how to do a basic stitch. This can help them if they ever rip a sleeve at school and you can even make a small sewing kit to pack in their backpack together. If you want to learn more fancy stitches to do by hand and your child has a little more patience, try teaching your kids to cross-stitch or check out this tutorial.

Once you have mastered the basics like sewing on buttons and hand stitching, you can introduce your kids to sewing on a machine. My favorite starter sewing machine is the Brother LX 2500. Once your kids feel comfortable doing a simple stitch on the machine, sewing two pieces of scrap fabric together, you can try more ambitious projects. An easy project to start with kids is making throw pillows. All you need is a little fabric and some batting from the craft store. If your kids want to try a group project, making a quilt out of old tee-shirts is fun and easy. Simply cut tee shirts into equal squares and sew them together. Then, once the squares have been sewn together to form a large square, sew quilt batting from the craft store to the back of the tee-shirts going along the seams between each smaller square.

13669207_10153800125168437_47949328520388841_n
Once the squares are sewn together, sew batting to the back using the seams between the smaller squares.

After the batting has been sewn to the back, lay the batting-backed squares onto a large piece of fabric. This will make the back of your quilt. Leave enough fabric to fold over the sides, because that is what you will sew to the borders of your tee shirt squares. This will need to be a team effort with the kids. They can all work on pinning down the edges and one will need to hold the blanket up while they take turns sewing the cloth around the edges of the shirts. Your sewing machine will do the hard parts, but the kids will learn teamwork and in the end will have a quilt they can all be proud of.

My family's first completed quilt.
My family’s first completed quilt.

It may  not seem like much now, but when your kids are in college and are able to make their clothes last longer, or are able to make something they are proud of, it will be worth it.

Learn to Garden

Girl Picking Beans In Vegetable Garden

Gardening is one of the best ways to make sure that your kids learn about where their food comes from and how important it is to know what you are eating.

One of the easiest ways to teach your kids about gardening is to start with an herb garden. Planting something like basil can teach them all about soil, composting and watching the plant grow. Plus it is easy to harvest so the kids will get hands-on-learning. You can plant a garden on your patio, in your kitchen, on a windowsill– you don’t even need a large yard!

If you do have a bit more space in the garden, learning about compost is a great way to get kids to not only understand soil, but to really embrace recycling as well. A great compost can help yield stronger plants, so it makes it easy to teach the kids about how connected the garden and the earth are with their actions.

With a larger space, you can also get the whole family involved in planting a pizza garden or even a salsa garden. Growing all of the necessary ingredients is a fun way to get the kids involved and excited.

Gardening is a skill that they can use for the rest of their lives. It will help them make more informed decisions about their food as they grow into adulthood and can even help them in the long run when it comes to always having food on the table.

Use STEAM to Learn About Engines and How to Use Tools

When I was a teenager and I got my first car, my parents took me outside and made me learn how to change a tire, check my oil and change my spark plugs. While this might seem a little overkill in the age of easily accessible roadside help– especially if you have young children– there are STEAM activities you can do to teach your kids about how engines work to prepare them for when they own their own vehicle. It is also important to learn how to use tools, whether it is for working on a car or hanging a picture.

One of the easiest ways to start learning about engines is to learn about gears. Having you kids make cut-out gears and using pins to keep them in place on paper can show them how gears work. You can also show your kids how to screw things in and how to use tools by getting a toy car from the dollar store and taking it apart (but be careful– this will have small pieces and should only be done with big kids).

MOSI has a few great experiments you can do right at home. If you are less scientifically or engineering inclined, MOSI has entire spaces where kids can learn all about engines and pulleys and engineering.

This may not seem like much now, but as the kids get older, you can build on this knowledge and show them how to change a tire, check the oil and why those things need to be done. They will have an easier time understanding the basics of how each part is affected if you neglect maintenance like oil changes, and it can save them money in the long-run over the course of their adult life.

Cooking and Baking

This may be a no-brainer, but a recent study found that a great majority of millennials can’t cook. If, like me, you are a millennial, this might feel a little like trying to teach the kids how to juggle knives on fire while standing on their heads. But, cooking can be a fun skill to learn together.

A great way to start teaching your kids to cook is to show them the basics. Boiling an egg, boiling potatoes and baking a cake from boxed mix is a great place to begin. As your child gets older, show them more daring culinary feats. Making pizza dough is fun to do with younger kids and letting them spread the sauce and sprinkle the cheese is something they will enjoy without knowing they are learning. Simple things like making dough, baking bread or cakes, and making mashed potatoes or cauliflower will stay with them as they age and will give them a great foundation as they start becoming more adventurous in the kitchen. Boys and girls alike will need to know how to cook, so it is important to get the whole family involved.

Life skills don’t have to be boring and if you start early, these skills can help kids learn more about what types of jobs they might want when they grow up.

 

Related Articles

busch gardens christmas town