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7 Awesome DIY Crafts You Can Make With Your Kids

7 Crafts That Will Keep Your Kids Occupied Before School Starts

When you have kids, you accumulate old clothes and little scraps of this and that at an alarmingly rapid rate. T-shirts they've grown out of, ripped-up jeans, hole-ridden sweaters, and old pillowcases lay dormant in your basement for mostly sentimental reasons. Our solution? A little bit of creativity.

Focus Features' The Boxtrolls takes this spirit of creativity and fun to an aesthetically astonishing place. In this film, based on the children's novel "Here Be Monsters" by Alan Snow, a young, orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator. The stop-motion animation, produced by Laika (Coraline, Paranorman), is enough to inspire childlike wonder in even the most stubborn grown-ups.

In honor of the DIY spirit of the film, we've partnered with Focus Features and Maggy Woodley of Red Ted Art to create fun crafts that will help you turn trash into treasure.

Don't forget to check out The Boxtrolls, out in theaters on September 26.

Toilet-Paper Roll Boxtroll
First things first! This is your chance to create your own Boxtroll characters. We challenged ourselves to make one out of a toilet paper roll. We've provided step-by-step instructions, but we hope you will imagine unique details for yourself. Does your Boxtroll have a long or wide head? Does it have a big mouth with lots of teeth or just a few? Will it have big ears or little ears?

What you'll need...

  • toilet paper roll
  • glue
  • wire
  • plastecine
  • scissors
  • paper & watercolors (for the label)

How it's done...

  1. Take your TP roll and flatten it into a square shape. Make creases on both sides. Open it and squeeze the creases towards each other to flatten the opposite side and make two fresh creases.

  • Cut down the sides and fold down your flaps. We decided to cut off two of the four flaps, as you will later have to squeeze wire through the cardboard, and it is easier to get through two pieces of cardboard than four. Glue in place and let dry.
  • Shape your wires. You’ll need two: one will form the neck and legs, and the other will form the arms.
  • Make holes into your roll to feed the wires through –- two at the top (you want the neck to poke out like a loop) and two at the bottom. (This step is a little fiddly. Just take your time!)
  • boxtroll2

  • Once all your wires are in place, you can trim them down (our arms were rather long) and start adding the body of your Boxtroll with plastecine. Don’t worry if it looks a little funny … you have time to shape it.
  • Take a little plastecine away or add more as required. Use shaping tools (or a craft stick) to add details such as fingers and toes. You will need reasonably flat feet to help your Boxtroll stand upright.
  • Add whichever details suit your particular Boxtroll.
  • Think about the box label: What is your character about? Cut a small piece of paper, add detail in pencil and then use watercolors, which will give the label an old, faded look.
  • Monster Plushies
    Remember those T-shirts that your kids grew out of? How about those jeans that have holes in the knees? These make for great sewing materials, as you can practice away and not worry about “wasting” new fabric. Turn old clothes and fabrics into a lovable, cuddly monster pillow.

    What you'll need...

    • Assorted fabrics
    • Sewing machine (you can also hand sew)
    • Stuffing (you can also use bubble wrap or old pillow filling)
    • Buttons (for eyes)
    • Felt scraps for teeth and eyes
    • Fabric glue (to reduce the hand sewing)
    • Bits and pieces such as wool or string (for details such as hair)
    How it's done...
    1. Draw some basic shapes and patterns for your monsters.

  • See what suitable fabrics you have on hand. Remember, if you have a small scrap you REALLY love, you can use it on the front and use a plain backing.
  • Cut out all the pieces you need and start sewing the basic shape together. We added the “front tummy section” and then sewed together the front and back – ensuring we had put the hair pieces in place. (We pinned them in place before sewing.)
  • Turn the right side round and double-check the position of your eyes and teeth. Glue these down with your fabric glue or hand sew them. Once the glue is fully dry, sew on your buttons.
  • Stuff your monster! Then sew the opening shut and add any finishing embellishments.
  • Bottle Bugs
    This craft calls for little more than old bottle tops and bits and pieces from the toolbox. Soon you’ll have enough items to make these fun little mini-beasts.

    What you'll need...

    • bottle tops
    • acrylic or enamel paint
    • brushes
    • wire
    • bits & pieces from the tool box (mini-washers)
    • anything else you can find (e.g. we use the bubbly side of a plastic coke bottle)
    • markers
    • hot glue gun

    How it's done...

    1. Begin by painting your bottle tops in your desired colors. Depending on what kind of paint you use, you may need to put on two to three layers. Let dry. Enamel paints dry very quickly, so you don’t have to wait to long to add a second layer if is needed!

  • Now is the time to get creative. What makes good eyes? Does your bug need legs? What could be used as wings? We found some washers that make great eyes (just make a big blob of hot glue in the center as a big eye ball), and the bubble side of a plastic drinks bottle made for fabulous wings.
  • Using your hot glue gun, carefully add your embellishments and you’re done!
  • Monster Catcher

    monster ball catcher
    Take an old milk carton and turn it into a monster ball-catcher. If you want, you can even make your own “throw bags” to go with it out of bits and pieces of fabric.

    What you'll need...

    • milk carton, washed and dried
    • permanent marker pens -- the thicker, the better
    • scissors
    • googly eyes & glue (optional)
    How it's done...
    1. Mark out where you would like cut out the “mouth” of your monster. You can use the “cut away piece” to test that your permanent markers won’t smudge, as some will.

  • Look at your milk carton and hunt for “features”: Does the handle look like a nose to you? Do you have some “dips” where the eyes could go? What color should your monster be?
  • Start coloring. We added details such a red nose, green head, googly eyes and a spotted back.
  • Start playing!
  • Matchbox Toy Cameras
    boxtroll cameras
    You get to recycle, you get to craft, you get a toy out of it and you have a little miniature art box, too. What more could you want?

    What you'll need...

    • matchboxes
    • cardboard
    • glue
    • paint
    • ribbon
    • beads
    • anything else you find appropriate; e.g., some silver foil for the camera flash
    How it's done...
    1. Begin your craft by cutting out five or six discs out of cardboard. These pieces will become your camera lens. Depending on how big your lens to be, you will need more or less. We used a large coin as a template. Glue them together in a stack and add to your matchbox, slightly off-center.

  • Take out the inside of the matchbox and paint your camera in the desired color. Remember to paint the sides of your matchbox, too. To dry without smudging, hang on a coffee stirrer. (If you try and stand it upright it will topple due to the “lens.”)
  • Paint a silver rim (if you don’t have silver, use white) and add a silver square as a flash. A bead can serve as the release button.
  • Once dry, glue some ribbons on the back.
  • Let dry. Then, add some little sheets of paper to the inside of your camera so you can create little masterpieces while you are out and about.
  • Artsy Robots

    What you'll need...

    • cardboard
    • paint
    • hot glue gun or good white glue
    • markers
    • small pieces, such as washers, screws, ring pulls, bottle caps, and straws.

    How it's done...

    • Begin by deciding on the size of your robots. Do you have lots of “medium-sized” or “small-sized” bits and pieces? Cut out rectangular pieces to make your head, body, arms and legs.

  • Paint the robots in your desired colors and let dry.
  • Using your hot glue gun, glue your robot back together. You can have “just your robot” or you can stick it onto another piece of card, or a canvas or anything that you feel is suitable.
  • Now take your smaller pieces and go wild! Which bit could go where? A washer could be great eye, but it could also work really well as an on and off button. Where does it look better? Which pieces do you have lots of? Once you are happy, hot glue gun it all in place.
  • Finally, get your markers out and REALLY start doodling. Add buttons, eyes, mouths, on/off switches, strips and lines.
  • Bottle Creatures
    The key thing when making this craft is to constantly look for shapes and patterns in your odds and ends: Does something look like a nose? Can you find some cool eyes? Can something be turned into hair? The quirkier your creations, the better.

    What you'll need...

    • Sharp scissors
    • A hot glue gun
    • For bodies and heads: bottles, tins and jars
    • For eyes: jar lids
    • For mouths, ears and hands: ring pulls
    • For noses: curtain pulls
    • For arms: bendy straws
    • For hands and feet: straws
    • For hair: soda cans or rope handles from shopping bags

    How it's done...
    purple bottle

    1. Spend time sorting through your junk and placing things together. What looked good together? What could we connect? What was missing? Do we use the big bottle or the small bottle? Or do we use a plastic cup? Or a can...?

  • Remove all the labels from your bottles or jars and make sure they are clean. Shampoo bottles worked great for us.
  • Heat up your glue gun and start “assembling," eyes first.
  • white bottle

  • Make funky hair by cutting strips out of the soda can, going round and round to make curly hair. Note: The metal is super soft and very bendable, but you'll want to take care not to cut yourself. We then bent the strips at the bottom and squeezed them into the top of our shampoo bottle.
  • For arms, use curly straws and snip them to size. Add some ring pulls as hands using hot glue or tape.
  • Add some quirky little straw “claws.”
  • The Boxtrolls is out in theaters on September 26.

    Have you created your own Boxtroll? Submit a photograph here for a chance to win four tickets to the premiere of "The Boxtrolls."


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