Do your children also love to make a mess? The positive word for this is being creative, I think, and I’m all for creativity! I don’t have a great love for cleaning though and to be perfectly honest, I’m a bit up-tight about mess.
However, research keeps reminding us how valuable hands-on experiences are for our childrens’ continued learning and development. And even more so nowadays when our young people are constantly being drawn to online activities.
I have compiled a list of ideas here below that we have used in our own family, which will engage your older children and teenager’s hands, and minds (and maybe even also teach them how to use a mop, bucket and cloth afterwards too – double bonus!!).
Drawing is a very popular activity in our household, and not surprising really as ‘monkey see monkey do’! This has always been one of my favourite pastimes and it really is the simplest and most effective activity to connect with a child. You don’t even need to know how to draw, all you need is a piece of paper and a few pencils to engage with your child and have a bit of fun together by drawing silly monsters or fantasy maps.
However, if you or your child would love to learn how to draw, the best book for the job by far is the absolutely brilliant Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. These images below are sketches that Fia drew a few years ago on one of the art camps that I run in the summer, based on exercises in the book.
When buying drawing equipment for yourself or your child, you could either buy a set that has everything in it, or you could build a set yourself.
If you want a ready made set, this is beautiful kit by Derwent comes in a sturdy wooden box and even contains a sketch pad.
If you prefer to compile a set, I would suggest you need a set of drawing pencils ranging from H to 6B, a white eraser, a kneadable eraser (for rubbing out softer pencils), sketch pads, a craft knife to sharpen the pencils and a good sturdy box to store everything in.
And then an easel would be a lovely addition to the art supplies of any budding artist.
If you want to learn some drawing tips yourself, have a look at these other posts on my blog:
When Rebecca was off school for a couple of months with Glandular Fever, I taught her how to use my sewing machine. It was handy that it was during the run-up to Christmas, because she was able to make some Christmas gifts (including bunting for her little cousin’s bedroom).
I bought my sewing machine, a Singer, when I was 16 and it’s still going strong after all this time – over 30 years! My Mum also has one and so I wouldn’t recommend any other brand!
Singer makes a range of different machines, including a starter version. Mine is a heavy duty, non digital machine and is ideal for all household tasks. If you buy a sewing machine, I would also suggest you buy an assortment of accessories, haberdashery and fabrics to get going!
My two youngest girls love to bake, which is wonderful as we all love to eat their experiments. They may make a bit of mess but the rewards are well worth it!
A couple of Christmasses ago I bought a large cake tin and filled it with proper baking supplies from a baking supply shop for Rebecca, who was 11 then. She feels very grown up using the proper equipment.
I chose a bright supply of measuring cups and spoons, a piping set, a cake tester, icing spatulas and pattern makers, pretty cup cake cases, decorative pastry cutter and a tiny chocolate grater and packaged them all in a large Christmas themed cake tin.
Below are some suggested items:
Tie Die Kit
I wrote about this amazing Fab Lab Designer Tie Die kit in my post about the range of gifts we received from Interplay but I have to mention it here as it really was a fabulous set, the clothes are still being worn and the colours are still vivid after a year of use.
This was a messy activity and we did it on a well covered table with plenty of kitchen paper to mop ups spills but it was very successful.
The kit comes with four different colours and instructions on how to create different designs. We had plenty of dye left over so could have done more t-shirts (we did four).
We then went and bought another kit so that my eldest daugher could run this as a craft activity on a camp with 9 kids and reported that the 9 kids all loved the activity (and she also came home with spare dye!)
Really I couldn’t recommend this highly enough but you definitely need adult supervision and it takes up to 8 hours for the dye to set.
Here are a variety of options for you to buy your own tie die kit, we had the one pictured on the left:
More hobbies and gift ideas for older children and teens
There is a wide range of creative hobbies that would suit older children and teenagers once you start thinking about it. For more ideas including photography, jewellery making, scrapbooking and music you could have a look at my Christmas gift guide for teen girls here and teen boys here.
*Please note this post contains affiliate links, if you choose to make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
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