We know, parents. After seven weeks of being home with the kids, you are looking for new ideas.


Today, we’re offering crafts you can do at home with things you probably already have.


We checked in with Mary Helen Leonard of the blog Mary Makes Good as well as local museums and Michaels for crafts of varying degrees of difficulty to suit different ages.


Magic potions


When colors blend, sparkles swirl and little bits of nature are bottled up, it’s nothing short of magic. Be warned, it is messy business, but it is also guaranteed to capture the imagination of kids of all ages.


These magic potions are actually just colored water mixed with something sparkly and bottled up with colored ribbon or washi tape. They are not intended to be ingested — ever. So please make sure that your little potion makers understand not to imbibe their creations.


— Mary Helen Leonard, marymakesgood.com


You’ll need:


Empty bottles or jars with caps or lids


Water


Water-based colorant (tempera paint, watercolor paint or even food dye will work)


Glitter glue, loose glitter or pearlescent mica powder


Rhinestones, sequins, small puffy stickers or tiny beads and charms


Flower petals, seed pods or other itty bitty nature treasures


Masking tape or washi tape


Step 1: Fill your bottle or jar with plain water.


Step 2: Add color. Experiment with different types of colorants to see how they behave in the water. Tempera paints will create a cloudy, opaque potion, while food dyes or watercolor paint will leave the water clear.


Step 3: Add sparkle. Loose glitter is the standard ingredient for this purpose, but glitter glue will also do. The glue might not disperse or melt into the water easily, but that can be kind of fun anyway. Another great ingredient, if you have it handy, is pearlescent mica powder, which adds the shimmering color we see in eyeshadows and nail polish.


Step 4: Enhance with accouterments. Try adding a few charms or baubles to make your potion extra unique. Small puffy stickers, beads or tiny nature treasures, like flower petals or seed pods, are a few of my kids’ favorites.


Step 5: Decorate your container. Tightly lid or cap your potion, then secure it with tape. Masking tape and washi tape are great for this. They come in lots of fun colors and patterns and are easy for little hands to work with. Kids can add labels naming their potions, glue rhinestones onto the bottles or add stickers to make them extra cute. My nephew Fox took this part a step further by attaching handwritten scrolls with information about each potion he made.


Step 6: If you decide to share your potions, just make sure that your recipient knows they are just pretend and definitely NOT for drinking. These don’t have preservatives, so the contents will get funky sooner or later. It’s worth noting that natural ingredients, like flower petals, will deteriorate much more quickly than other things. So those potions will get yucky and will need to be tossed quickly — perhaps within a week or so.


DIY Air-Dry Clay


This easy-to-make clay can be dyed using food coloring or paint. You also can sculpt it and then paint it.


— Contemporary Austin, contemporaryaustin.org/fromhome


You’ll need:


3 tablespoons cornstarch


1 tablespoon white glue


1 teaspoon oil (vegetable or baby oil)


Hand lotion


Step 1: In a bowl, add white glue, oil and cornstarch together. Mix together well using the back of a spoon until it is a crumbly mixture.


Step 2: Put some hand lotion on your hands. Then pick up the clay and knead it. Squish it between your fingers until it is a consistent ball of clay.


Nature mandalas


Crafting nature mandalas can be an excellent way to explore artistic composition, mindfulness and the great outdoors — all at the same time. These temporary art installations create beauty from foraged natural objects. Children will love scouring the ground for specific items, just like a scavenger hunt, and their natural curiosity will create an opportunity for learning.


— Mary Helen Leonard, marymakesgood.com


Step 1: Gather natural materials for your mandala. Mandalas often include repeating patterns, so try to gather multiples of whatever objects you find. Some of our favorite materials to use are pieces of bark, pecan shells, acorns, air plants, crepe myrtle blossoms and live oak leaves. Bits of moss, flower petals and colored stones can help to add detail and variety to your mandala; keep an eye out for anything with a pop of color.


Step 2: Find a spot to make your mandala. You’ll need a flat, empty spot, at least 2 feet by 2 feet wide. The ideal spot will contrast nicely with your materials.


Step 3: Organize your found objects into little piles to make them easy to work with. If you are extra meticulous you can use an old muffin tin to collect your materials. I usually just pile them up on the ground.


Step 4: Assemble your mandala. Place your most interesting found object in the center. This will serve as the innermost ring of the mandala. Use your collection of found objects to create a circle around that object, then repeat to create more and more rings in whatever pattern you like. Try playing with different patterns by placing objects in different directions. Creating repetitive shapes and color combinations is a great way to make your mandala extra special.


Step 5: Appreciate and abandon. Mandalas are meant to be temporary. Sometimes I barely get a moment to enjoy mine before a gust of wind or a curious kiddo breaks it into pieces. This is the nature of the art form, so try your best to embrace it! I often snap a picture, then I leave my composition to do what it will.


When I leave mandalas in public spaces I like to imagine they make my neighbors smile. Just make sure your mandala is placed in a spot where it won’t trip anybody and that it is only using natural materials that would be typically found there anyway. There’s nothing beautiful about litter, after all.


Simple kite


This activity from Michaels just feels like spring.


Michaels has many different home art activities on its website.


— Michaels, michaels.com/projects


You’ll need:


Markers


Glue stick


Construction paper


String


Hole puncher


Step 1: Draw flowers and circles onto construction paper. Make two of each color. Cut out and set aside.


Step 2: Draw flowers and vines on a piece of construction paper with markers.


Step 3: Roll the decorated paper and glue the ends together, with the drawing on the outside, making a tube.


Step 4: ADULT: Use a hole punch to punch three holes on both ends of the tube, keeping the spacing as even as possible.


Step 5: Cut three strands of yarn about 2 feet long and tie each one through the holes on the top of the tube.


Step 6: Pull the strands together, about 6 inches from the top, and tie a knot. Tie another knot at the top of the strands to keep them all together.


Step 7: Cut three more strands of yarn and tie them through the bottom holes of the tube.


Step 8: Trim the strands at different lengths.


Step 9: Glue the holes to the center of the flowers.


Step 10: Glue the flowers back-to-back with a hanging strand in between.


Recycled robots


You can make your very own robot friend, or any creature, really, usually ordinary materials from your recycling bin and your imagination.


— Contemporary Austin, contemporaryaustin.org/fromhome


You’ll need:


3 to 5 containers, such as bottles, paper tubes and small boxes


Tape


Glue


Scissors


Items to decorate such as lids, metal washers and string


Step 1: Raid your recycling bin. Find body parts for your robot. Small boxes, toilet paper rolls and berry containers are great robot-building materials.


Step 2: Gather up your adhesives. Strong tape like duct tape is a great option for quickly attaching robot parts. Glue works well, too, but might require a bit more patience. If you have a hot glue gun at home, have an adult help you.


Step 3: Plan your robot body. Decide which containers will be the body, the head, the legs, the arms. Use markers, paper, aluminum foil or tape to cover up labels on the containers.


Step 4: Start to assemble your robot. Using glue, tape or other adhesives, attach each body part to the body.


Step 5: Now it’s time to decorate your robot. Give it a mechanical look by using small recyclables such as lids for knobs, old wires or leftover washers and other small pieces. Or you can grab a marker instead and draw your details.


You can share your creations by tagging @contemporaryATX or using #SecondSaturdaysAtHome.


Exquisite creatures


This activity is a group project.


— Thinkery, thinkeryaustin.org/thinkery-at-home


You’ll need:


One sheet of paper for every person who is making art


Drawing supplies: pencils and some markers.


A timer


Step 1: Give everyone a piece of paper. Fold your piece of paper into thirds. Fold the bottom one-third up and the top one-third down.


Step 2: Unfold your paper. Label each section 1, 2 or 3 from the top down.


Step 3: Draw two little lines close together on the top fold. Draw two little lines further apart on the bottom fold.


Step 4: Refold your paper so that only the top one-third is shown.


Step 5: Start round one of the drawing by setting a timer for 2 to 3 minutes. You are going to draw the head to your creation on the top portion of the paper. Be creative and silly.


Step 6: Refold your paper so only the middle part is showing.


Step 7: Pass your paper to a person sitting next to you on your left. Set your time for 2 to 3 minutes. During this round, draw the body. Don’t unfold it and don’t peek.


Step 8: Flip your paper over to show only the bottom third. Pass your paper to the person next to you on your left. Set the timer for 2 to 3 minutes. Draw the bottom part of your creature. Don’t peak.


Step 9: Unfold your paper to see your full paper. You can then create an entire story for your creature if you want.


Pendulum painting


A pendulum is an object, hung from a fixed point, that swings freely back and forth because of the force of gravity. A pendulum works by converting energy back and forth.


In this activity you’ll experiment with the differences mass and length have on pendulums. You also can add more pendulums in different colors to make some really cool art.


Every week the Science Mill in Johnson City has been releasing different videos of experiments they do in the museum as well as activities you can do at home through its Explorer Zone.


— Science Mill, sciencemill.org/explorer-zone


You’ll need:


Pencil


Ruler


10-ounce plastic cup


Thumbtack


6 washers


Large paper clip


Masking tape


String


Tempera paint


Dixie cup


Duct tape


Plastic tablecloth (or old sheet, old towel, newspaper that can get dirty)


Butcher paper (or other large paper)


Step 1: Premake a pendulum paint cup. Using a thumbtack, puncture the center of the bottom of the cup to make a hole about the size of a ballpoint pen. Then use the thumbtack to poke two holes on opposite sides near the top lip of the cup.


Step 2: Make a W shape out of the paperclip and slide a washer onto the center arch of the W. Stick the ends of the paperclip through the holes near the top of the cup.


Step 3: Cover the hole on the bottom of the cup with a piece of masking tape on the outside of the cup.


Step 4: Prep your paint. The paint should be the consistency of ink. With the tempera paint it takes a little more than a 1-to-1 ratio of water to paint.


Step 5: Place a large plastic table cloth or other protective material underneath your pendulum area.


Step 6: Cut three pieces of butcher paper or other paper on hand to roughly 2-foot-by-2-foot squares or equivalent rectangles. Label one CONTROL, one MASS and the third LENGTH.


Step 7: Using your ruler, measure the distance of the bottom of the pendulum paint cup to the floor so that the bottom of the cup is 4 inches from the floor. Use string to measure a length that can hang your pendulum paint cup from the bottom of the table so it hangs 4 inches from the floor. Attach the string to the cup by tying your string in a knot around the washer.


Step 8: Use duct tape to tape the string to the bottom of the table at the appropriate length so that the pendulum paint cup is 4 inches above the floor.


Step 9: Test your pendulum paint cup EMPTY first to see how it works and make sure your tape will hold. Hold the cup at varying angles to see the time it takes for one swing of the pendulum and observe the patterns of the swinging motion from different angles.


You will be performing three trials today with pendulum painting. The first trial will use the paper labeled CONTROL. The second trial will use the paper labeled MASS. The third trial will use the paper labeled LENGTH.


Step 10: Make sure your measurements are accurate. Try to release your pendulum paint cup at the same height and angle for each trial. Practice your swing before you put the paint in the pendulum paint cup, and before you release your swing with the paint, check your position (i.e., height and angle).


Step 11: Trial 1: CONTROL. Use a pencil to draw the pattern you predict the pendulum will make on the paper labeled CONTROL using the observations you made during your practice swings.


Add the paint to your cup. Lift the pendulum paint cup to the height and angle you want to release from.


Remove the masking tape from the bottom of your cup. Release the pendulum paint cup.


Observe the patterns. When the pendulum paint cup stops moving, replace the tape to the bottom of the paint cup.


Step 12: Trial 2: MASS. Change to your next piece of paper. Add five washers to your paint cup by removing the tape where the string is attached to the table and slide the extra washers onto the string. Reattach the tape and string to the table.


Make sure your pendulum paint cup bottom is still 4 inches from the floor. Use a pencil to draw the pattern you predict the pendulum will make on the sheet labeled MASS.


Add more paint to your pendulum paint cup if needed. Lift the cup to the height and angle you want to release from.


Remove the masking tape from the bottom of your paint cup. Release the pendulum paint cup. Observe the patterns.


When the pendulum paint cup stops moving, replace the tape to the bottom of the paint cup.


Step 13: Trial 3: LENGTH. Change to your next piece of paper.


Remove the five extra washers you added to your paint cup by removing the tape where the string is attached to the table and sliding the washers off the string. Reattach the tape and string to the table BUT this time adjust the string length and make sure your paint cup bottom is 8 inches from the floor instead of 4 inches.


Use a pencil to draw the pattern you predict the pendulum will make on the sheet labeled LENGTH.


Add more paint to your pendulum paint cup if needed. Lift the paint cup to the height and angle you want to release from. Remove the masking tape from the bottom of your paint cup. Release the cup.


Observe the patterns. When the pendulum paint cup stops moving, replace the tape to the bottom of the paint cup.


Step 14: Place all the paintings next to each other on the floor and make observations of the similarities and differences in your three paintings.


Send pictures and videos of your pendulum to programs@sciencemill.org or tag them on social media.


Unicorn sensory jar


You can vary this jar based on what your child wants to make.


— Michaels, michaels.com/projects


You’ll need:


Small plastic jar with a top


Glitter glue


Glitter (silver and pink or your color choice)


Fine tip paint pen


Miniature animals


Step 1: Cut out a triangle with a smaller wider rectangle tab underneath and trace it twice onto cardstock. (Online, Michaels has a template of the shape, but the shape looks a bit like a sailboat.) Cut out and set aside.


Step 2: Squeeze glitter glue into the container until it completely covers the bottom of the container. (Approximately 1 inch of glue.)


Step 3: Fill the container with warm water and screw on the lid. Shake to dissolve the glitter glue into the water.


Step 4: Add approximately 1 teaspoon of silver glitter and 1 teaspoon of pink glitter a little at a time.


Step 5: Add miniature animals, screw on the lid and shake again.


If you find the jar leaking a bit of water at the seal, add a thin layer of glue for extra support.


Step 6: Glue the paper horn shapes cut out in Step 1 together, back to back, except for the bottom rectangle tab. Open the tab so the sailboat can stand up on its own.


Step 7: Spread glue to the top of the lid and set the horn on top with the tabs open. Spread glue over the tabs and up the horn. Sprinkle on more glitter over glue. Let dry.


Step 8: Use a paint pen and draw on eyelashes to the front. Let dry.


Nature loom


Throughout my life I have often used art as a form of meditation. I find it immensely helpful to spend time devoting my entire attention to a task. It helps me feel grounded, practice being present and allows my mind and body to relax.


My older child will often ask me, “Why are you making that?” and I answer, honestly, “Just because I want to.” And such is the function of the nature loom in our backyard. It does not serve much purpose, and really, it isn’t even very pretty, but it keeps my fingers busy, and it gives my children the chance to practice making art as meditation (while exercising those fine motor skills, of course).


— Mary Helen Leonard, marymakesgood.com


You’ll need:


A light but sturdy branch as wide as the loom will be


A heavy and sturdy branch as wide as the loom will be


A sturdy tree, for hanging your loom


One full skein of sturdy natural fiber yarn (cotton or wool are good choices)


Scissors


A variety of ribbon, string, strips of cloth and whatever natural stringy materials you can find hanging around


Step 1: Take the lighter of the two wide branches and secure it to your tree. I sat mine in the crook of the branches on a large crepe myrtle in my backyard. It sat quite naturally so I was able to have it sit neatly as I used yarn to tie it securely to the tree. If you don’t have an easy spot like this you can also use yarn or rope to tie the branch into place. Yet another option is to find a branch in the tree that is already parallel to the ground and at a height you can easily work with. In that case you can use the tree’s existing branch as the top of your loom. Whatever option you choose, the goal is to get the top branch of the loom as secure and immovable as possible.


Step 2: Measure from the top branch of your loom down to the ground. Double that measurement, add a few extra inches, and then cut as many pieces of string as the top branch is wide (in inches). For example, if you are using a 4-foot wide branch for the top of your loom you should cut 48 pieces of yarn.


Step 3: Attach the yarn to the bottom branch of the loom. This part of the loom is not attached to the tree yet. Fold a piece of yarn in half then place it over the center of the branch. Pull both ends of the yarn under the branch and back through the loop where the yarn was folded. Pull it tight to secure the yarn. Repeat this with the remaining pieces of yarn, spacing them 1 inch apart across the entire branch.


Step 4: Attach the yarn to the top branch of the loom. Now comes the tricky part. Starting at the center of the loom, attach the ends of the yarn from the bottom branch to the top branch. Tie each pair of strings together with one loose knot before wrapping them around the top branch and tying again. There should be a good amount of tension on the strings. If they feel loose, pull them tighter until they are snug. Once the strings are attached, tie an extra knot to make sure they stay in place. Repeat this with the remaining pieces of yarn, spacing them 1 inch apart across the entire branch.


Step 5: Attach the bottom branch of the loom to the trunk of the tree. Push the bottom branch of the loom back to the trunk of the tree, then use your yarn to tie it securely into place. Secure the center point first by wrapping several lengths of yarn around the trunk and branch. Tie a firm knot to keep it in place. Now cut a very long piece of yarn and tie it to one end of the branch. Tie the other end of the yarn to the tree trunk. Repeat on the other side. The goal is for the bottom branch to remain as firmly in place as possible.


Step 6: Start your weaving from the top of the loom by tying a ribbon to the first piece of yarn (either on the left or right side according to your preference). Weave the ribbon horizontally through the strings, alternating putting it above or below the next string in the loom. When you get to the last string in the row, pull the ribbon until it is taut, then tie a knot to the final string before starting another row.


Step 7: Repeat row after row until the loom is full. When you run out of ribbon, tie a new one to the tail of the old one and keep going. It can be helpful to tie your ribbon to a small twig so it acts like a needle, helping your fingers more easily navigate between the strings of the loom. Try weaving flowers, grasses, and other natural materials into the loom as you go. These natural treasures will dry out or fall off as time goes on, but their presence makes the process more enjoyable. And that is the whole point.


My castle book


You don’t have to make a castle. It could be any kind of fantasy scene.


— Michaels, michaels.com/projects


You’ll need:


Glue stick


Markers


White cardstock


Construction paper


Step 1: Fold a piece of 8-inch-by-11-inch white cardstock in half. On the folded edge, find the center, then measure out 1 inches either way. Next, measure in 1 inches in from the folded edge. Make one cut at each of the 1-inch marks and cut in 1 inches. This will create the pop-up mechanism for your book.


Step 2: Open the folded cardstock and push the cut piece in toward the inside of the book so it creates a stair step.


Step 3: On a half sheet of cardstock, draw a castle and color and cut it out. Also, cut out and color an extra door and glue to the bottom of the castle door (so it opens up like a drawbridge) and set it aside.


Step 4: Open the book flat. Using markers, color a sky (or cut construction paper for the sky) on the top half and color a moat and other details for the ground on the bottom half.


Step 5: Glue the castle to the vertical portion of the pop-up mechanism. Fold the book to make sure it folds correctly.


Step 6: Cover the outside of the book with construction paper using the glue stick. Decorate the outside of the book using construction paper and markers.