Take these fun kids crafts -- and the mess they make -- outside

Don't stress about the mess! These five projects are meant to be made outdoors, where kids can be as sloppy as they want -- and cleanup is as easy as turning on the hose.

Woven tie-dye wall

Creating this screenlike panel takes time, but the results are worth it. Make two or three connecting walls to create a play space that's open to the sky.

You will need:

Tie-dyeing kit

Cotton bedsheet (we used a queen-size)

Ball of sturdy twine or thin rope

Fabric scraps (optional)

1. Tie-dye a bedsheet according to the kit instructions. Rinse and dry the sheet, then tear or cut it into long strips about 3 inches wide.

2. Survey your yard for a good spot for the wall. Between two trees 5 or 6 feet apart is ideal, but you also can anchor your wall to fence posts, bird-feeder poles or even hardwood garden stakes hammered into the ground and kept upright with additional ropes and tent stakes.

3. Tie one end of a ball of twine about 4 feet up one of the trunks. Loop it around the other tree, keeping the twine as taut as possible. (It's easier with two people, one at each trunk.) Continue looping the twine around both trunks as shown, passing it back and forth and moving down the trunks as you go. At the bottom, tie off the twine.

4. Weave the fabric strips into the twine, working from the bottom up. Weave any excess fabric back down the twine.

5. For added embellishment, weave in fabric scraps or other materials.

Pretty marbled paper

With this project, not only do you end up with beautiful marbled paper, but you get to play around with copious amounts of shaving cream. We have to admit, our finished paper was extra soft and smooth!

You will need:

Baking sheet with rim

Shaving cream


Liquid food coloring

Craft stick or toothpick

Card stock

1. Cover the baking sheet with a half-inch layer of shaving cream. Smooth it with the squeegee.

2. Dot the cream with drops of food coloring, then use a craft stick or toothpick to swirl it in the cream.

3. Lay a sheet of cardstock on top of the cream and press lightly. Peel off the paper and use the squeegee to remove the excess shaving cream. Set the paper aside to dry. Try making a second, lighter print, or start over with a fresh layer of cream on the baking sheet.

Patterned paste paper

Made using a centuries-old technique, paste paper is great for greeting cards, photo frames, collages and gift wrap. Note: Prepare the paste base in advance to give it a chance to cool.

You will need:

1/2 cup flour

3 3/4 cups water

Old credit cards, stiff cardboard or a comb (optional)

Plastic spoons

Disposable cups

Acrylic (a water-based paint)

Wide paintbrushes

Sturdy colored paper, such as scrapbook paper, card stock or drawing paper (construction paper won't hold up)

1. In a stainless-steel or aluminum saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the flour and water. When the mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer the paste, stirring frequently for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the paste cool. You can make the paste beforehand and refrigerate it overnight.

2. To make tools for scraping patterns into the paste, cut notches along the sides of old credit cards and cardboard. Vary the notches for different line widths.

3. For each color you'd like to use, spoon a generous amount of paste into a disposable cup. Stir a dollop of paint into the paste, adding more paint if necessary to reach your desired shade.

4. Use a wide brush to cover a sheet of paper with a thin, even coat of paste. Drag a scraping tool across the surface of the paper; this will remove some of the paste, exposing the paper beneath. Experiment with making curvy lines, zigzags, crisscrosses and circles.

5. When you have a pattern you like, let the paper dry overnight. The paper will wrinkle; to flatten it, place the dry artwork under a stack of heavy books for a few days.

Self-portrait dream sheet

Your child will have sweet dreams -- about being a soccer star, a fairy princess, a knight, a mermaid or anything else he or she wants to be -- under this life-size self-portrait bedspread.

You will need:

Flat bedsheet

Washable marker

Nondimensional fabric paint (like DecoArt SoSoft)

Lay the bedsheet on a flat surface. Have your child lie in the center so that her neck lines up with the top edge, then use a washable marker to trace her body. Use fabric paint to paint the body wearing the outfit of a favorite character, hero or star. Follow the paint package instructions for setting the paint and laundering the sheet.

Spaghetti yarn bowl

This loopy bowl is big on groovy color and style, if short on soup-containing ability. It's made by simply laying pieces of glue-soaked yarn onto a ball.

You will need:

Large, smooth plastic ball (ours was 14 inches wide)

Bowls to hold the ball and glue

Yarn or string (we used 240 feet)

White glue

Rest the ball on top of a bowl to steady it. Cut the yarn into about 80 yard-long pieces. Put a generous amount of glue in a bowl. Working with one strand at a time, submerge the yarn in the glue. Squeeze out the excess, then drape the yarn onto the top half of the ball, forming squiggly loops. As you add more strands, cross the previously draped yarn multiple times. Let the glue dry overnight before lifting the bowl from the ball. Clean the ball with soap and water.