Sometimes you need simple activities for students in a pinch. That’s why we love sharing fun crafts and experiments that students can do with everyday items—for example, creating art with coffee filters or exploring science with items from the kitchen.
In Art with Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff, author MaryAnn Kohl shares tons of activities that can be done using everyday objects, such as buttons, cardboard, hole-punch dots, junk mail, masking tape, sandpaper, and salt. These activities are perfect for promoting creativity, imagination, and fun—with little to no effort.
Yarn is another easy-to-find item that can be used for a range of activities. It’s low-cost, mostly mess-free, and versatile, making it the perfect material to keep on hand for your students. Here are a few activity ideas to help you put yarn to great use in your classroom or after-school program.
For this activity, students will need yarn, construction paper, glue, and their own creativity to build an art masterpiece. They can use the yarn to create an outdoor scene, re-create their favorite animals, or imagine an entirely new design. It can all be done by simply gluing the yarn onto paper.
This type of activity is ideal for developing problem solving and creative thinking skills, while also reinforcing fine-motor skills and eye-hand coordination. And without defined instructions, students will be more focused on the process rather than the finished product, which further fosters originality, creativity, and flexibility.
Best ages: Grades K–3
This simple STEM experiment is a great way to demonstrate salt’s “cool” effect on ice. Salt lowers the melting point of ice to below freezing. In this experiment, the ice will melt a bit but then refreeze instantly to make the yarn stick to the ice.
Best ages: K–5
- Clear jar
- Add some water and a few ice cubes to a clear jar.
- Tie the yarn to a pencil. Make sure there is enough yarn hanging from the pencil to use it as the “fishing rod.”
- Lower the yarn into the jar, and place the pencil across the jar opening, over the ice.
- Sprinkle a bit of salt onto the ice, and wait about 30 seconds.
- Slowly pull up the yarn. The yarn should be stuck to the ice!
Note: If the yarn isn’t sticking to the ice, the ice may have gotten too warm, the yarn may be too wet, or you may have used too much salt. But don’t fret! You can always start over with more ice and yarn.
Try this yarn craft activity for a fun, easy-to-make art piece that students can display on a desk or wall. Even more, the activity promotes coordination and fine-motor skill development. Check out this Yarn-Wrapped Letters Project to see how it’s done.
Best ages: K–5
- Letter templates or foam letters (optional)
- Corrugated cardboard
- Craft knife (adult use only)
- Craft glue
- To begin, give each child some cardboard, a pencil, and a ruler to trace letters from templates, or they can draw their letters freehand.
- Have an adult use the craft knife to carefully cut out each student’s first initial from the cardboard.
- Each student then flips her letter over and glues the end of a piece of yarn onto the back, close to the point of the letter where she’ll begin wrapping.
- Flip the letter back over, and begin wrapping! Be sure the yarn is wrapped tightly so that none of the cardboard is showing, but try not to overlap the layers. Keep adding glue as necessary to keep the layers of yarn in place.
- As they work their way around the letter, students can switch out the yarn for different colors to make their letters stand out.
- Once they’re done wrapping their letters, trim the yarn, leaving about a 1-inch tail. Glue the tail to the back of the letter to secure it.
These DIY yarn paintbrushes put a fun and silly twist on painting! Similar to yarn art, there’s no need to provide instructions. Just give students an opportunity to explore and develop their creativity and flexibility.
Best ages: K–3
- Simply cut a long strand of yarn and fold it over itself until you’re satisfied with the size.
- Trim off the end, and use the remaining yarn to tie the looped yarn tightly in the middle.
- Cut off both of the looped ends to create a paintbrush.
- Use more yarn to tie the yarn brush tightly to the craft stick.
- Add a variety of paint colors to a paper plate, and dip in your yarn paintbrush.
For similar activity ideas, check out Art with Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff.