Simple Projects to Make With Your Children

I come from a long line of makers: makers of art, music, prose, documentaries, businesses and even history. Although the specifics vary, we have all shared in the excitement and challenge of the creative process.

Although making is rarely done out of need as it once was, I feel that the handmade holds more value than ever. It’s not only in the product of the “make” but in the process that we have the opportunity to shape how we see ourselves and the world around us.

This has become of even greater importance as my husband and I experience life alongside our 3-year-old daughter, Bea.

The approaching holiday season provides an opportunity to “Make” for a greater purpose.

At age 3, an innately “me-focused” age, I sat down with Bea to explain one of the most important parts of the season – a time to slow down and reflect on those that we love.

I went on to explain that we generally give gifts to people as a token of our affection. I invited Bea to think of those in her life that she loves and something that reminded her of each of them. I recorded her answers and made a list that became the starting point for our handmade holiday projects.

I’m sharing a couple of project that we’ve been having fun creating. I hope they bring your family together and make your season bright. MAKE them your own.

Project: Carton Activity Calendar


  • Empty milk/juice carton
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Craft knife
  • Sharpie
  • Cotton ball
  • Flameless tea light or tiny twinkle light strand


  1. Gather your family together to drink your milk or juice all up. Important: Use this time to make a list of simple seasonal family activities.
  2. Wash out the carton.
  3. Apply a first coat of paint over entire carton and let dry.
  4. Use a sharpie to draw as many windows and doors as you want on your calendar.
  5. Paint windows/doors as you wish and apply second coat as needed.
  6. Use craft knife to carefully cut out bottom of carton and all windows and doors, leaving one side of each attached (like a hinge).
  7. Use sharpie to number the outside of windows and doors, and write your activity on the opposite side.
  8. Stretch apart a cotton ball and stuff into the “chimney” for added effect.
  9. Place your light in the bottom to create a glow.
  10. Open one window or door each day and enjoy your daily family activity.

Project: Leaf Folks


  • Variety of colorful leaves
  • Old magazines/paper
  • Clear contact paper
  • Scissors
  • Fabric
  • Yarn
  • Scraps


  1. Cut desired size of contact paper
  2. Repeat
  3. Peel back protective lining on one sheet and lay flat, sticky side up.
  4. Choose a leaf and place on sticky side of contact paper.
  5. Begin collecting collage materials to complete your design. Place each item on the contact paper with the leaf.
  6. Peel back protective cover of second contact sheet and place sticky side down on top of your leaf folk. (Sticky sides will be pressed together, sandwiching the leaf folk).
  7. Use hands or straight edge to smooth out contact paper and remove air bubbles.
  8. Use scissors to trim edges to desired size.

*Leaf folk look great hanging in a sunny window or laminate your leaf folk and make a bookmark.

This article was originally published in December 2012

Annie Ferris is a local artist and the creative director for the nonprofit Global Gardens. Annie grew up in Tulsa raised by four parents who each taught her the importance of making a meaningful life.  Although a talented artist of many trades, she boasts that the best thing she’s ever made is her daughter, Bea.

Categories: Fun For Kids