By Laila Weir
Big eyes in little faces as they behold a trove of gifts just for them. Delivering an enticingly wrapped bundle to a loved one. Spreading holiday cheer, and letting someone know we’re thinking about them. Nothing says holiday spirit like sharing gifts, and, as the days turn colder, thoughts naturally turn to acquiring them.
All that generosity may bring joy to young and old, but it isn’t always a gift to our planet, or our pocketbooks. Creating homemade presents can be the perfect way to indulge in the best of the season while avoiding its excesses, and ones that engage children and inspire learning will bring out their best, as well.
Make reading aloud more rewarding for the whole family.
So why not complement a few choice store-bought items with these lovely literacy-supporting DIYs? We’ve selected six cute reading- and writing-themed projects that you can make or upcycle from a few simple materials. Then let the stocking-stuffing begin!
Need to keep kids entertained on the go? This simple DIY activity kit is perfect for road trips or plane trips, for restaurants, or for anywhere kids need some distraction while they wait. (Think instant entertainment on the sidelines of big sister’s soccer game or big brother’s guitar practice!) Keep your child’s activity book stocked with crayons or markers, stickers, and index cards (or paper cut to the book’s size), so they always have entertainment at hand. You can also create mini worksheets for some extra fun and even some early literacy and math learning. For example, draw an alpha-bingo game board on one of your index cards to include in the kit. You could also make some of our word-family flowers to keep in the kit.
Filling your home with books, whether bought or borrowed, is a great way to show kids that you value family reading. And while the stories and illustrations between the covers matter most, attractively displaying the books can build excitement. I recreated the DIY Honey Bear Bookends from Pretty Providence and think they’re the perfect eye candy to bring kids’ attention to the sweet titles on your shelves.
This accordion book craft is a great one to do with kids. Not only is it easy to make a pretty little book, it’s also a fun way to encourage children to write—they’ll be eager to fill these cute pages. Plus they can wrap the covers with an original drawing or painting, a great way to give kid creations a second life. For a sweet home-literacy activity, invite children to write their own stories inside their DIY accordion book. Older kids can create a comic strip or illustrated story. For younger kids, consider helping them make an alphabet book with a couple of letters per page, plus drawings of items whose names start with those letters. Once their masterpieces are ready, they can stand them up and put them on display!
Raising little readers and writers means providing plenty of reading and writing material, which in turn can mean a whole lot of pencils and pens trailing around your home. But never fear! With just a little glam, you can upcycle a plastic container into the perfect storage container for pencils, markers, and even crayons! There are so many different plastic containers for food that are the perfect size to repurpose into a pencil holder. This is a fun, easy, and environmentally responsible project with just a few simple steps!
These might be my new favorite DIY craft bookmarks! The chunky tassels are so fun and make it super easy to find your spot in a book, even for little hands. They’re also eye-catching and hard to misplace … hopefully encouraging young readers to use them instead of folding down the page corner! (We can always dream.)
There’s nothing quite like a new notebook for inviting possibility, its crisp pages tantalizing us with speculation about what’s to come. And personalizing a notebook is the perfect way to channel that sense of possibility and really make it our own. So why not kick off a new year, a new project, or a new diary with this DIY book-page decoupage notebook? (Hint: It also works to give old notebooks new life! Younger siblings will never know the difference, but the planet will thank you.)
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