As the days get shorter in the northern hemisphere, we all start settling into our homes and looking at the list of crafty projects we want to do during winter that we held over from last winter. I know it’s not just me who pokes her head outside in spring and simultaneously thinks “oh thank goodness” and “crap I didn’t finish that list…” every. single. year.
So before the hibernating truly begins, I’ve put together a list of crafts based on children’s books you can do with the children in your life over the winter. Kids make things more fun, and they’ll motivate you to get your project done by either 1) abandoning it halfway through, requiring you to finish it as a matter of principle, or 2) getting super into it and making it a joy and a bonding experience from beginning to end. Either way, you’ll finish a project and hopefully have some fun along the way!
Learn to Knit
There are many books out there for children that feature knitters, but the one I’ve enjoyed most recently is Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis, in which a young knitter goes to detention for yarn-bombing and then a hive of bees decides to live in her hair.
If you and your child would like to learn to knit, there is a myriad of resources out there. Personally I learned from watching the videos at KnittingHelp.com over and over again, and then I taught my mom. You could pick up this Learn to Knit Kit from Amazon ($14), and get everything you need.
Knitting develops fine motor skills, teaches patience, and builds the attention span. Plus, it makes stuff, which is pretty cool! You and your kiddo could follow in Zinnia’s footsteps and knit a sweater for a tree (hint: it’s a tube), or make mittens/scarves for people in need.
Plant An Indoor Garden
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t grow things. I’m inspired by Uncle John’s City Garden by Bernette G. Ford. In the depths of winter, it’s always good be reminded that spring is coming, and what does that better than a small indoor flower garden?
Of course you don’t need a kit to grow an indoor garden; you can also wing it! Get some potting soil, chuck some seeds in, water occasionally, and see what happens.
Make Seed Paper
Speaking of growing things, if you’re willing to get a little messy, you could have a great time making seed paper. This is one of my favorite projects to do with kids because it’s guaranteed to turn your kitchen into a complete disaster, everyone has a great time, and who doesn’t love the end product??
I found a good tutorial here at The Spruce Crafts. The general idea is that you’ll want to soak and then blend a bunch of newspaper and/or junk mail in a blender until it’s a goopy, gloopy mess. Squeeze the water out, then stir seeds in with a spoon. You can use any small seeds; wildflower seeds are popular, but make sure you’re getting a blend that’s native to your region. You can press the seeded paper into cookie cutters to make fun shapes, then let it dry. Voila!
Make Your Own Snow
A perennial favorite is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and for good reason. Who doesn’t love a great day in the snow followed by hot chocolate next to a warm fire?
If snow isn’t available yet — or even if it is and you’d just prefer to stay inside — you can make snow that won’t freeze your fingers! Another tutorial from The Spruce Crafts, this one can also make one heckuva mess, so be ready. It requires only two ingredients (three if you decide to add glitter): shaving cream and baking soda. Play with the ratios until you’re happy with the texture, then mold some snow people or build your own winterscape.
Note: this snow is not edible.
Build A Blob
Yes, a blob! (By the time I finish this paragraph, “blob” isn’t going to look like a word anymore.) Inspired by Blob by Anne Alpert, in which a blob named Bob learns about all the things he could be — including himself — I offer you the Build-A-Blob kit from Alpenglow Industries. Created by either finger-knitting or using zip ties, then attaching some giant googly eyes, this is a fun project for kids and parents alike. And once you’re done, you can choose what color you want the Blob you’ve built to be! ($30)
There are so many ways to keep yourself and your kids entertained during the winter. I hope these crafts based on children’s books have sparked some ideas for you! Find even more crafts based on children’s books in this list of DIY craft kits for booklovers or this roundup of The Very Hungry Caterpillar activities.