Tweens and teens looking for a new hobby (or trying to put to good use some of the skills they learned this summer at camp) can look no further. With a few easy patterns, kids can turn skills like cooking, sewing or their love of pets into hobbies – or even a good side hustle. Some of these projects are perfect to start now for crafters who want to surprise family with a handmade gift at the holidays.
Handmade Animal Dolls, by Melissa Lowry
Skills needed: Sewing, Cutting
If you aren’t already attracted by the adorable pictures of animal dolls on the cover, the ease of instructions will make these projects perfect for middle schoolers and older. Templates are provided and the instructions don’t assume a high degree of sewing talent. Kids will love picking the fabrics and giving the animals their own personalities.
Awesome Edible Kids Crafts, by Arena Blake
Skills needed: Basic Cooking (stirring, measuring, etc.)
This book of 75 projects encourages kids to play with their food. From gummy bear slime (making slime out of gummy bears) to glowing gelatin aliens, kids will learn about the science of food as much as the how to turn ordinary pancakes into something extraordinary. Recipes are rated by the necessity of adult supervision (from 1, which kids ages 6 and older can do on their own, to 5, which will require a lot more help).
The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever, by Larry Kay & Chris Perondi
Skills needed: Patience, A Dog
As hard as it was to potty train your child, kids will need that kind of patience to be able to train the family pet to perform awe-inspiring tricks, like sitting pretty and carrying objects. The book of 118 tricks and stunts is a great bonding tool for youngsters to get to know their dogs, and is best for kids in middle school and older. The instructions are perfect to teach both the dog and the human how to perform.
Yummy Yoga, by Joy Bauer
Skills needed: Yoga, Cooking (for more advanced yogis)
If your toddler loved copying you as you worked out with a yoga program in the living room, he or she will adore the foods that are posed in this book (and you’ll love the recipes). For newbie yogis, the poses are formed for kids to try everything from the Triangle Pose to the Cat Pose and the Forward Bend. The photos of the food following form will tickle the imagination for the recipe that follows (imagine broccoli in a tree pose then a recipe that uses broccoli and asparagus with pasta). Older kids can help make the super nutritious post-workout snack.
Sew With Me, by Brandy Nelson
Skills needed: Sewing, Cutting
The 60 projects in the book will be attractive to kids in late elementary and middle school. The activities range from Frankenstein door hangers to Tooth Fairy pillows and many fun standouts in between. Kids can learn to sew gifts for their friends (like zipper pulls) and their relatives (like throw blankets). The projects are each rated on a scale of 1 (easy hand stitching) to 3 (use of a sewing machine is necessary).
Stitch People 2nd Edition, by Elizabeth Dabczynski-Bean
Skills needed: Cross-Stitch, Basic Design
Kids who have already picked up the basics of cross-stitch can be the hero of the holidays creating a “family portrait” for grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors or friends. The book gives descriptions of how to develop the people based on age and distinguish each by adding hobbies and hair color. The biggest task will be designing the pattern before starting the stitching. This is a great book for teens who have already mastered stitching and want to take the next step.
Skills needed: Baking, Cooking
Kids ready to advance their baking skills outside of the proverbial store-bought box will enjoy the tastes they can create from this book. Written and published through American Girl, the colors and flavor profiles are beautiful. The step-by-step instructions will help tweens and teens create cupcakes for all occasions, and take their skills up a notch with glazes, creams and custards to top on a yummy cupcake. There are symbols all over the book to remind kids when an adult needs to step in and help.
Snackable Science Experiments, by Emma Vanstone
Skills needed: Cooking
For kids who can’t get enough science, mesh the cooking experience and they can learn about amino acids while making meringue or about density while challenging ketchup to a race. The best part is that there’s a snack at the end!
The Everything Tabletop Games Book, by Bebo
Skills needed: Cooperation
If your kid’s shelves are covered in board games instead of books, add this tome on top. Covering games for mostly older players – no Sorry! or Candy Land on this list – the book discusses strategy, goals and the history of more than 100 board games. Kids can learn about new games to try or improve their play at the games they only think they’ve mastered.
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