The Fourth of July typically is the first holiday during kids' summer vacation. And by now, they're bored.
Here are three simple crafts that can involve them in preparations for the holiday's fireworks and picnics. Not only do you keep them busy, but you get decorations to reuse year after year.
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"There's so much enthusiasm around this holiday," says Amanda Kingloff of New York City, author of "Project Kid: 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun" (Artisan, 2014), who appreciates the inflexible color palette: It's red, white and blue -- or nothing.
"Christmas has morphed into any color combination. What's trending in Christmas this year? It might be silver and gold," says Kingloff. "With July Fourth, you do not leave the path of red, white and blue."
Her book helps kids stay busy all summer -- some projects are intentionally complicated. Like the yarn birdcage, they'll take time and patience to complete.
For Independence Day, she recommends two simple crafts: firework flowers and stars and stripes bunting.
The flowers take minutes to make, and the essential supplies are just cupcake liners and straws. Directions are below.
"Once a kid can use scissors they can do this project," says Kingloff.
The bunting requires no measuring: Cut out triangles from paper or fabric; Kingloff cuts 5-by-6-inch triangles from canvas drop cloth. Punch large or small stars out of thick, plastic-coated freezer paper, and either iron them on or the freezer-paper stencil to the fabric. Then paint it. Use painter's tape to mark out and paint thick and thin stripes. After the paint has dried, glue string or cord to the top back edge of each triangle, leaving at least 2 inches of string on either end for hanging.
The freezer paper provides crisper lines than a store-bought stencil, Kingloff says.
Cristin Drewes of Provo, Utah, recommends a flag craft that she's done with all six of her children. It's simple enough: Use little kids' hands to paint blue "stars" and their feet to paint red stripes, using acrylic paint and white craft paper found at teacher supply stores.
Drewes recalls making her first flag with friends in the early 1990s. She wanted to make a memorable gift for her parents; the framed painting still hangs in their home. She also has her own flag, which she hangs over her fireplace during this and other holidays, such as Memorial Day. Her craft is featured on Pinterest, the online site ParentMap and her own blog, Serendipity.
"It was really just a matter of holding the little foot out and stepping it down," Drewes says. "I've cherished these a long time."
Adapted from "Project Kid" by Amanda Kingloff
Supplies (all in red, white and blue):
2 cupcake liners
1 drinking straw
Colored craft tape, such as washi
1. Place the flattened cupcake liners face to face, with the color or pattern on the outside. Fringe only the ruffled part of the liners about every 1/8 inch to inch, stopping when you reach the center flat circle.
2. Fold the liners in half, then in half again. Roll this "quarter circle" from the bottom and push the point you've created snugly into the straw. (If the flower tends to pop out of the straw, squeeze a dab of glue into the straw.)
3. Tear off a 2-inch piece of tape and center it on the shaft of the straw, folding it back across the straw and itself. (This is the leaf.)
4. Bend the neck of the straw to angle your flowers slightly outward.