The Keller Magazine

Craft ideas to keep kids occupied this summer

Project 3: Button boxes are fun and useful.
Project 3: Button boxes are fun and useful.

School’s out and summertime fun is in. It’s a great time to plan out a few crafty projects. If you know what crafts you want to tackle, you can be on the lookout for the materials to make it happen.

With all of the rain this year, it’s also good to be stocked up with rainy day craft projects for kids. Rain or shine, there will be “those kind of days” when a DIY kid/teen activity needs to be pulled out of your summer hat.

Some projects can come from past, present and/or future summer souvenirs. Trips to the beach that yield pockets full of seashells can give way to great craft projects. Collect, save them and dust the sand off and let them dry for craft projects later.


1. Stylish seashells by the seashore: Plan projects for your collected or found summertime seashells that will remind you of good times year-round:

Vacay photo frames

Apply special seashells to unique, wooden photo frames. This is a fun project to do with friends and family. Look for more updated, modern wooden frames to match a kid’s room. Styles of frames that have more wood than photo space are modern looking and allow you to have the space you need to apply the shells in a nifty way.


Newspaper, a tray for materials and sturdy project table

Wooden photo frames (preferably with more wood than photo display space)

A few printed snapshots

Craft paint (If you use chalkboard inspired paints, you will need to grab a can of spray Minwax Polycrylic clear coat)

Paint brushes

A few cotton swabs for glue clean-up

Disposable paint brush (optional, for the E600 adhesive, if you are using that product)

Seashells (rinsed and dried if from the seashore) (or buy them ready to use at the craft store)

Craft adhesive, such as: E6000 Adhesive, Amazing Goop plumbing adhesive or a low-heat glue gun with glue sticks. (Low-heat glue and guns are better for younger children, E6000 is very strong but is not odorless. Amazing Goop plumbing adhesive is less odorous and dries fast. )


1. Place your frames and all supplies on a newspaper covered, project table.

2. If you are painting a photo frame, select your colors and paint the frame with two coats of your craft paint. Painting by hand gives the frame a more handmade look. Chalklike paint is a good product for a matte-finished look and covers quickly and neatly. Many brands are free of bad chemicals and are easy to wash out. Read chalked paint directions to see if you need a wax final coat or a spray of Minwax Polycrylic. Some chalk-looking paints need a final coat. Let the paint dry.

3. Sift through the shells to find the favorite ones and lay them onto the frame in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Sometimes it’s fun to use a lot of shells, but too many shells will cover the pretty paint color you just applied. Often, less is more. Place maybe one large one in the center around the photo with smaller shells around that keystone shell.

4. Once you have the design layout, it’s time to glue. When using hot glue, it’s best to use a low-heat glue so little hands can’t get burned. Adult supervision around the glue guns are always recommended. If you are working with teens, I recommend using the adhesive E6000. It is something you can squeeze on or brush on with a craft brush but it is a stronger glue, so it is not recommended for younger kids. It will make the shells adhere to the frame for a longer time frame. Put gobs of glue under the shells so they have something to grip and adhere into.

5. Use a cotton swab to clean up any oozing glue that is seen on the frame that you don’t want to see and let the entire frame dry (overnight to 24 hours, if you are using E-600)


Seashell-laden purses and totes: Souvenir shells on everyday things


Newspaper, a tray for materials and good sturdy project table

An old or new woven or wooden purse or bag

Handful of favorite seashells

Cotton swabs for glue clean up

E6000 Adhesive or hot glue and a low heat glue gun


Find a old or new woven or wood purse or bag and simply glue on seashells to make a summer purse, bag or duffle. Heavy duty craft adhesives like E6000 works best for longer wearability, but it’s not good for younger kids to handle. Instead, use good-sized gobs of low-heat glue to make the shells hug the adhesive and then clean up the excess with cotton swabs. Let the bag dry overnight to 24 hours. The purse or vacay bag or tote will be a conversation piece.


Quick and chic hampers, inspired by The Hamptons

Every kid has a hamper in the house. Here’s a quick way to add some vacay bling to a boring hamper. Find a woven or wood hamper in the house or buy a new one.


A new or old clothing hamper

Spray paint (optional if your older hamper needs a lift of color)

One large Sand Dollar shell

Cotton swabs for glue clean up

E6000 craft adhesive or hot glue and a low heat glue gun


1. Locate sand dollar shells from a craft store or beach souvenir shop. You can find them online if you’re not planning a trip to the coast.

2. If you have a tired, old hamper, give it a fresh coat of paint to brighten up the hue. A fresh, blue-gray hue might be nice. Use paints with lower odor and that have a fast-drying feature, if possible.

3. Glue on one large, white, sand dollar to the front of the hamper. E6000 works best for longer staying power, but it’s not good for younger kids to handle. Use gobs of low-heat, hot glue to make the sand dollar hug the adhesive and then clean up the excess with cotton swabs.

4. Let the hamper dry overnight to 24 hours. This creation from summertime memories might actually get kids more interested in actually using the hamper if they value it.


2. Build a fleet of homemade raft-style boats with sails from twigs: With friends you can create a whole fleet!

This is so much fun when you have access to a small creek or lake area, but it can be just as fun on a rainy day in the yard. Always remember, parental supervision around any water source is mandatory with young children.

Natural twig boats are a lesson in nature, patience and troubleshooting. The victory of seeing something hand-built suddenly begin to float is timeless and priceless.

And look, even if the boats don’t float, building them is a wonderful experience and many of the items you’ll need to make these are in your own stash right now. Often you just need some time, guidance and creativity to sail these ships. Work with your kids to encourage them to be small boat builders and watch their eyes beam with the ingenuity of their ideas setting sail.


Newspaper, a tray for materials and sturdy project table

8-10 Twigs (lighter pieces of twigs that are about ½ inch in diameter and about 6 inches long (give or take)

One skinnier, tall twig for the mast (about 8 inches tall and very straight)

One craft paint brush

Jute twine or any time of twine/heavy string (one roll)

Scrap fabric or bandana fabric

Hot glue and low heat glue gun

Cotton swabs for glue clean up

Pipe Cleaners (optional)

One button or small craft pom-pom (optional)

Small hack saw (optional)

Sandpaper (optional)

Plastic woven mesh (optional for really young boat makers)


1. Make the hunt for the twigs fun. Look around for semi-straight pieces of ½-inch diameter sticks or twigs that resemble small logs. Cut off the ends with a small hacksaw for young children, or they can sand the ends a little and use them as they come naturally. Collect more than you need so you can have the children select which ones are ideal for their sailboats or rafts.

2. Pull off any loose bark and use a craft brush to brush off any dirt. Some bark left on is okay. There are no rules of design. Do what works.

3. Lay out the sticks side by side to design the base of the boat. Keep the longer ones in the middle and use shorter ones on the end.

4. The tying part can be done many different ways and with some trial and error. Suggest an idea and let the mini engineer minds see if they have a better way to tie the mini “logs” together. Start by tying the first outside log with twine and a tightly wrapped knot. Then wind the twine around it to create tension. Start enveloping the next log with twine. Keep weaving the twine in and out of neighboring sticks, keeping them attached tightly to one another.

Some might want to tie each one off and start a new loop and knot; others might wish to just loop one piece of twine around each “log.”

An under and over one method and then around back the other way with the opposite under-over weaving is a great way to do this fast.

Another quick and easy way is to line up the sticks and put a bead of hot glue down across one line where you will then press in the twine. Wrap the twine around all of the sticks to hold them together as a group.

To stabilize the structure, you’ll want to add two twigs to the bottom of the craft going perpendicular to the top layer.

5. Some can be dried out and reused, but this project is for an afternoon of fun. Don’t be heartsick if the boats don’t float. Some boats will float better than others. Encourage kids to learn from what makes one boat work better than the others. Encourage kids to help hold each other’s sticks while they tie off their log bases. Helping one another is what makes this fun. Don’t make it a competitive thing or you’ll have a lot of tears by the end of the regatta.

6. Hot glue in a center mast that will be used to hold the sails. It should be the thinner, straighter stick. You can also use twine to secure this, but hot glue will help to hold it in place.

7. Cut sails in one piece or two elongated triangular pieces from scrap fabric. Old or new bandanas work because the fabric is so lightweight. Hot glue them onto the mast stick, or center pole of the boat. Use pipe cleaners on the outer edges of the sail material to keep it firm and able to catch some breezes.

8. Add a small button to the top of the mast stick.

9. Tie on some extra twine so that kids can guide their boats on water. Use at least 3 yards of twine so kids can move their boat manually, if they like.

10. Here’s the little kids’ boat’s insurance policy: For small kids, you can use plastic woven canvas (which you buy by the sheet at a craft store in the knitting section) to hold the twigs together when you are dealing with a young child’s creation. It just holds the twigs together in a lightweight way underneath, which will not be seen from the top. This takes away the trial and error part of the project a bit, but for little children who just want to just build a boat, this is a nice step to hold it all together for their enjoyment. Hot glue on the woven plastic piece under the logs using a piece of plastic or cardboard to sandwich it onto the sticks.

You’ll want to use a lot of hot glue to press the webbing down. An old credit or gift card or plastic knife will help you press the webbing to the sticks underneath the craft until it dries and forms a bottom layer. Use webbing smaller than the width of the base so it won’t show.

11. Create a small, safe water source in your own backyard by filling up a small plastic pool or trough. Use a large plastic storage container on a patio and add blue food coloring to give the water a blue hue. This is great for younger kids to float their boats but also it’s a nice testing ground for older kids before they launch their sails in a real lake or creek. Once more, adult supervision is required around all summer water activities. Never forget this golden rule of safety!


3. Button boxes to house your summer’s small treasures:

Paper mache boxes are fun to make from boatloads of extra buttons and whatnots. The boxes can hold summer’s souvenirs and charms. This is a perfect rainy-day project to drag out when an activity is called for.


Newspaper, a tray for materials and sturdy project table

Paper mache boxes with lids (Michael’s Craft Store carries these in natural brown)

Buttons, old jewelry or a few old coins (craft stores carry bags of button collections if you don’t have a jar of them of your own)

Low-heat glue gun

Cotton swabs for glue clean-up

Grosgrain ribbon for trim


1. Find the paper mache boxes at a craft store. Oval ones make lovely shapes and can sit atop a child’s dresser nicely. You’ll need to look for the lidded paper boxes. There’s a whole section for papier mache boxes at most craft stores.

2. Find a table to put the materials on for this project so that time can be spent selecting the buttons to place on top of the lid.

3. Pour the buttons and any old jewelry or coins that you have onto a large tray; select things that you want to work with.

4. Hot-glue the buttons to the top of the lid. It’s OK if the buttons overlap. Encourage children to stop and clean up the glue as they go with the cotton swabs; however, thin strings of glue can be pulled off when the lid is fully dry.

5. Fold the ribbons ends and glue one edge down. Wrap the grosgrain ribbon around the lid’s edge and glue other end down. Seal the glue spot with a large button.

6. Fill with candy or summer’s souvenirs.


4. Tote bags for summer trip travels

Customize your tote bags that you take to camp or vacation with printer-friendly papers that create an iron-on design for a plain, cotton tote bag. Use the totes for gear or to pack up hobbies to take to the lake or beach house. Use photos of pets, family photos and even the kids’ own drawings. Craft stores usually carry iron-on T-shirt transfer papers and plain cotton bags. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and come up with some creative bag designs in a day. Use ribbons, fabric paint and glitter pens or other embellishments to trim out the image.


Newspaper, a tray for materials and sturdy project table

Cotton tote bags from the craft store

A digital photo or image of something that would work well on a tote bag

Printer-friendly T-shirt transfer paper (Iron-on variety that works with your printer)

Iron and ironing board

Towel or dishtowel for pressing

Your printer loaded with plenty of ink


Fabric glue

Fabric paint pens to trim (optional)

Sewing machine or fabric glue


It’s best to follow the exact directions on the printing paper that will transfer your image onto your fabric. These instructions vary, but follow the instructions provided with your product. Basically, you will select an image, print it off on your printer using the transfer materials. It will create a negative image of the subject matter, which you will then iron on and you’ll see the image on the tote bag.

Next, you can trim the image with some ribbon either sewn in or fabric-glued down. Let the fabric glue dry overnight. Add sewn-in or fabric glued-down pearls or beads. Use a fabric glue pen or paint to add some designs around the image. These make camp send-off gifts for kids, and they can also be a wonderful birthday party or sleep-over activity. Kids can leave home with a personalized bag of the event.


5. Turn the tables: Advanced DIY home design tips for teens

For the teen looking to take on something a little more advanced in crafting, it’s fun to redo a bed or lamp table in their room. There’s often a stray table in the house that (with permissions) a parent is OK with having “revamped.” Think of unique ways to reface just the top of the table or a stool that could become a table.

Use Scrabble game pieces from a garage sale game to cover the top of a table. A strong craft adhesive like E6000 or Amazing Goop will adhere the game pieces to the table top. Spell out words that are meaningful and use a hacksaw to trim off any edges to make the pieces fit just right. Allow the pieces to dry for 1-2 days before using the table.

The art of mosaic is a wonderful project to learn this summer. Use a broken plate to cover the top of a table and give your room a new accent piece. There are many tutorials on for how to make a mosaic tabletop. Here’s one that has many helpful details for the advanced, crafty teen to make a tabletop from broken china or any mosaic design.


6. Scrapbook with a textural 3-D cover for summer trip pics at the end of the year. (Or some fun sites mentioned to making one digitally online)

Make the scrapbook of your dreams before summer gets going and you’ll have it ready to drop photos in at the end of the sunny season. Craft stores have so many accoutrements to make a beautiful book of memories. The trick is to layer something of a theme so the scrapbook has a lot of texture and includes one theme that ties everything together. Add unique elements like old keys, charms, antique-looking hardware to create a secret vault of cherished memories feel to the cover of your album. And if you don’t have the real thing, it is amazing what the craft store aisles offer in terms of reproductions of these things. You can also use jewelry making elements to create a special photo album cover too.

Old needlepoints or unique tapestries can wrap around scrapbook covers too. Scour garage sales for old needlepoint pieces that could be simply hot glued over the cover of a plain photo album. Even if the needlepoint is framed but a great deal. Buy it and remove the frame. Cut it to fit and apply it to your scrapbook. Use gimp and upholstery trims to outline the edges. Even add small clusters of hot-glued buttons to the corners for even more texture.

Online book publishing is another way to make a scrapbook these days. Gather around the computer and enjoy putting together a bounded book of your summer’s fun. Some of the most user friendly online scrapbook companies we’ve spotted,, and more. Look for “lay-flat” or printable photo books that allow you to upload your images and select certain layouts. In a few weeks, your digital, hardcover book is in your mailbox.

Your corner CVS store’s photo department has very easy to design, bounded booklets that can be made sometimes while a customer waits. This can make for a fun afternoon that yields something hardcover to treasure for years to come.

7. Blooming flip flops decorating party

What’s more fun than a teen flip-flop shoe design party on a summer day! Buy a stash of flip flops in common sizes and place them in a bucket. Have every guest bring some unique things to adhere to flip flops to the activity table.

Mix in everyone’s items and place on a tray. Invite the children or teens make their own flip flops.

Flowers make the prettiest summer shoe in town. You have to go big though with your blooms to make “statement sandals.” Get two of the same large silk flower blossom at a craft store and use E6000 adhesive to glue on the flower bud. Hot glue will work too, but E6000 will make the flower stay on longer in the Texas heat. Other ideas are keystone vintage jewelry pieces from mom’s old jewelry stash (get her permission first!), beads and soft pom-poms make fun decorations to flip flops.

Quick flower feet flip flops


Newspaper, a tray for materials and sturdy project table

Two of the same larger silk blooms from the craft store

Wire cutters

E6000 or a heavy-duty craft adhesive that is waterproof and strong

Pair of flip flops that match flowers well


1. Select silk flowers and cut off wire stem so that the flower is as flat as possible on the underside.

2. Use adhesive to glue on blossom to the plastic shoe where the larger part of the straps connects to the toe areas.

3. Hold the flower on until glue begins to thicken. Keep the flower upright.

4. Let shoes dry over a 24-hour period.

8. Ladybug and bumblebee tic-tac-toe stump

This is such a sweet and simple idea for little children and has been enjoyed by many generations. A stump and a few round rocks can make the perfect tic-tac-toe board for kiddos this summer. Making the game board is almost more fun than playing the game.


Newspaper, a tray for materials and sturdy project table

Wood slice from a tree or bought at a craft store

Sand paper (optional, if the surface needs smoothing)

6 rocks

1 small bottle of light tan, white or gray paint

1 small bottle of red craft paint

1 small bottle of yellow craft paint

1 small bottle of black paint

2-3 craft paint brushes

1 can of Minwax Polycrylic clear coat spray

Cotton swabs


1. Locate a stump or piece of tree that has been trimmed. Sometimes these show up on the curbs of people having trees removed if you are in the city. If you have access to country property, you may be able to slice off a tree limb that is just the right size. Craft stores and online sources have trees slices for weddings, catering and craft projects too.

2. Lightly sand the slice of wood so that the top is smooth.

3. Paint a solid light color and then use black paint to create the “number sign” grid for the tic-tac-toe board.

4. Now comes the fun part. Find six rocks. Three will be painted in the pattern of a ladybug and three will be very bumble bee friendly.

5. Using your craft paints, paint three rocks red and three rocks yellow.

6. Use a cotton swab to paint little black dots on the red rocks like a lady bug would wear.

7. Next, paint black stripes on the yellow rocks to create a bumble bee pattern.

8. Place the rocks on the wood slice game board on the back patio and let the games begin!


Area craft stores carry most of the elements in the projects above.

Michael’s Stores

2005 S. Main St., 817-741-7507

Hobby Lobby

3101 Texas Sage Trail in Alliance Town Center,

(817) 741-0100; or

2115 W. Southlake Blvd. in Southlake,


Find products like Minwax Polycrylic clear coating spray, Amazing Goop and E6000 Adhesive at places like Walmart, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s and The Home Depot or ask your favorite craft store expert for advice on similar products.

Tutorials for mosaic tutorial for small tabletops: and have a wealth of tutorials to learn about broken china and regular tabletop mosaics. This is a wonderful summertime art to learn. Classes are also available in Dallas & Fort Worth to learn more.

Multiple videos from the O’Neil Sisters on Mosaics using broken china: