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Handicrafts for boys?

Esse Quam Videri

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Ds7 has a natural ability to construct 3-dimension objects out of paper. We've encouraged it with books on origami, kirigami (where you cut the paper in addition to folding it), and a variety of similar books for making everything from paper airplanes to star wars characters. He has gotten pretty good at constructing things. We've been a little stumped on where to go from here. We've been thinking maybe models or something similar. He loves building things out of legos or k'nex, so building models seems like the natural next step. I have a hard time picturing him doing any tradition woodcrafting or such, because dh doesn't do anything like that or own any tools. That sort of stuff just isn't common anymore (or at least not in our community). I'm finding that we lack the skills ourselves, so he's having to muddle forward on his own.

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We keep a craft closet with wood, pipecleaners, felt, paper, etc. We have bins full of random wood shapes, clothespins, wheels, etc. My boys have built entire play sets out of these things with the help of glue, felt, pipecleaners, etc.


I taught them to sew with felt. They traced a drawing on two pieces of felt, cut it out, sewed it together and stuffed it to make their own personalized animals.


We did spool knitting last year. They each made super long snakes and knit jump ropes.


Nature crafts like carton bird feeders and pine cone crafts have gone over very well.


We picked up a hand drill (nonpower drill) at a garage sale one year. The drill, a lightweight hammer, screws and nails were used constantly to build simple airplanes and such.


My method of teaching crafts is to do a simple project to show them a technique, then give them some free time with the craft closet. They come up with much better things than I would once they know the basic techniques!

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Handicraft type of activities our DSs really enjoyed in the elementary years:



On Their Own:

- Made bows and arrows out of tree limbs and string

- Made "pots" from mud/clay in the yard

- Made towns and roads from wet sand, for their Hot Wheets cars, and used cups and other recyclables for buildings

- Whittling -- starting about age 6, we gave them each a Swiss army knife; they only each cut themselves once, and then you know to be careful



- cooking -- minor supervision

They LOVED this Star Wars cookbook

(but just in general, they enjoyed kneading bread; making/decorating cookies; learning how to cut up veggies with a knife; etc.)


- Thingmaker -- SOLO

We had DH's old "hot plate" version -- you can find them on ebay; if you have safety concerns, can get the newer version


- Shrinky Dinks -- minor supervision

(this Monster kit version looks cool for boys!)


- Beeswax Candle kit -- minor supervision

(Great Christmas gifts to give Grandma, friends, or relatives)


- Suncatcher kit - minor supervision

(We did one that was a set of Christmas tree ornaments)


- Pony bead critters - minor supervision


- Glass etching kit - careful supervision

(More great gifts for grandma!)


- woodworking - SOLO to careful supervision

Home Depot used to offer a once-a-month Saturday morning kid's clinic, and our DSs would make some sort of woodworking project; what about doing it as DIY at home? Free project plans here; or a book here.


- Sculpty clay - virtually no supervision

(one year we made "plant pals" -- Sculpty clay creatures, which we designed to hang on the edge of a flower pot, baked them, and then painted them, and were given as gifts to grandma, aunts, friends, etc.)

(another year we used the Sculpty eraser clay and they made fun creatures, faces, etc. that fit on the end of a pencil as an eraser, which they gave as gifts to friends)


- origami - virtually no supervision

(free projects for kids here and here)


- Paint by Number kit-- SOLO

They also have poster kits with markers


- made wallets with a simple leather kit

(here's a cool one with stamping AND making projects)


- demolition and home remodeling

(DSs helped pound up the old tile with hammers while wearing safety goggles; also sanding, simple nailing and other odd jobs)


- Legos -- SOLO

and, of course, the king of handicrafts -- designing their own LEGO creations!


- this Star Wars craft book looks fun


- loom = another mom on this Board says her son loved making potholders


More ideas here and here -- I LOVED the idea of learning to tie different knots.

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Models and paper crafts are good. My husband still talks about these 3-D trading cards he made as a boy using several copies of the same card, cutting out different sections of the cards, and then layering them on the bottom card to make a 3-D effect.


My son has started out with some *very* basic woodworking skills. Basically, a huge branch fell off our neighbor's tree into our backyard. I bought him a small handsaw and instructed him saw it all up into foot long pieces. It was the joy of his life for quite some time!

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Last year my son sewed simple items. One was a silly stuffed animal made of fleece and buttons for eyes. One of his friends asked him to make one :). It's year he sewed a Spider-Man pillow cover.


I just got him a simple frog cross stitch project to make his dad for his birthday. I will also be showing him how to make a simple needlepoint project (plastic heart) for the grandparents for Valentines day this month.


He is very much boy, but since he's homeschooled has no idea that other people might perceive sewing for girls. He just likes making things.


I was also thinking of a latch hook project but I remember as a child having a difficult time at for much of the project until the mat softened. Maybe we'll do one in the future.

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My boys attended a Montessori school's summer camp last year, where they were introduced to weaving and sewing. They loved both. For weaving, they used a cardboard loom. For sewing, they made their own moccasins. I'd also recommend finger knitting as a good start.




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He is young, but if his tastes go toward skinning deer, what about something like the reprint of this vintage book: The American Boy's Handy Book by Daniel Carter Beard. I think it is 100 years old, so there is some non-pc language as was common at that time and it is now illegal to collect bird's eggs and nests, so use your judgment.


You can see it on Google Books:



or The Field and Forest Handy Book



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DS8 has been learning woodworking to build Pinewood Derby cars. He can use a drill press, scroll saw, and sander. I'm debating what age he should be to get his own knife for whittling. He also has an origami book, but he hasn't started it yet. There are instructions in this month's Boys' Life magazine on how to make a duct tape wallet that might be fun to try.

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My son is the one who loved Potholders. The Klutz kit gives you a superior loom. It is angled slightly and the hoops don't slide off as easily. After using those rather expensive supplies we bought hoops wherever we could find them! He made blankets etc. Out of potholders. It gave him a craft to do while dd and I knit. He can knit, crochet, and cross stitch but never finishes anything. The potholders get finished.

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How about paper airplanes? There are some great books out there--just start simple!


Also consider making a simple plane out of balsam wood. Easy to cut with scissors. You could start with an inexpensive premade one (by inexpensive I mean under $4.00) and then get him some balsam wood to design his own. Then there are soooo many things he can do with it (and the wood--make boats, etc.).


Yesterday we made candles in milk weed pods. Of course my son wanted to see if they would float with the wax in them (and they did) so we had a huge bowl of water with floating milk weed pod candles in it at dinner time. I will admit he really wanted to sink them and he ended up doing that at the end!


Of course that was not my intention--I just wanted to make nice candles--but I have learned that I can present the work and then let them run in the direction they want with it.


Another thought for handiwork--how about letting your son design his own legos--as in give him a book with pictures on what you're studying and let him design his own plane, boat, car, house, etc. based on the picture. That takes a lot of concentration and playing around with how things come together, strength of the creation, etc. My son always likes to take out t his WWII plane books and tries to make a "replica". He's been doing that since he was six.

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My DS4 has great fine motor skills, a twin sister and a 6 YO sister so he is surrounded by handicrafts and no girl/boy distinctions yet. He likes sewing and I will cut car and train shapes, then he will sew them into a puppet or pillow. DH does origami and is teaching him that. Working with air dry clay to make pots or sculptures then paint them has been fun. We also roll the clay into a sheet and then he can carve on it. He loves Perler Beads too, and Santa found some vehicle themed ones to add to our collection of hearts and butterflies. We are starting to work on one of those no-sew fleece blankets where he ties the ends together in knot after knot after knot.

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I asked DS what he would like to do for handicrafts, and he said skin a deer :lol:. Not sure that counts.


That's survival skills :)

My 8 year old read "My Side of the Mountain" and in the story the protagonist skin a deer to make a vest.


My boys like origami, clay sculpturing and knotting. They are now into balloon sculpturing after seeing the party entertainers and the balloon sculpters at farmers markets..


ETA: the wood whiste is also described in "My Side of the Mountain"

Macrame is another fun knotting craft

This page has step by step knotting instructions http://www.surreyknots.org.uk/igkt-knot-charts.htm

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Really interested in this thread. I have four boys - real boy boys - who do like to sew, but REALLY want to whittle. I am just not sure if I can put knives in their hands, as one minute they are best friends and the next minute they are out for blood. They are 8, 7, and 5 (those who want to whittle). Thoughts? I love the ideas being shared here, thanks for this thread!

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Can I add a question? My 5yo is a future engineer, I am sure of it. He is like MacGuyver - he can three random household items and build a working machine. He amazes us every day. But he has anger management issues. He is very intelligent, but very quickly bored, and has a really short fuse (ADHD but we don't medicate right now). He is begging us all of the time to give him more MacGuyver type supplies, and he would be happy to spend all day in the garage with my husband's tools. But he is five. If a brother walks by and teases him while he has a saw in his hand.... I love the balsam wood plane/boat idea. Any recommendation for tools for this sort of boy? The hand drill was an amazing suggestion, and I've already put one on my Amazon wish list! Any other recommendations, in that vein? Projects/hobbies that would be a good fit?

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I have been trying to more intention all with handicrafts this year. My boys have really enjoyed soap carving. We mostly use Popsicle sticks and play dough knives. My boys are not allowed to have a pocket knife until they have their whitlin chip from cub scouts. Which they earn the summer they are 8 at camp. Then if they are miss using their knives I cut a corner, when all four corners are gone they have to go through the training with dad again to regain the privilege of using a pocket knife.


We have also made a few trips to the scout store to get different projects. Currently the boys are working on leather crafts - which are really sewing but appeal to the boys.

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We do a variety of craft materials using shrinky dinks, clay, felt, pom poms, wiggle eyes, string, sticks, yarn, and pipe cleaners. I have a plastic file box with a lid full of this stuff, and he creates his own projects. We let our boy whittle with supervision. He had to learn the rules of carrying a knife, and how to treat it first. We've had no issues. We also get out the wood burner in the summer, and use that outside. We also have Steven Caney's Ultimate Building Book, and several books by Daniel C. Beard. If your boys like outdoorsy projects they would enjoy Daniel C. Beard books. My DS also has a side business making survival bracelets with paracord. So we spend time learning many different knots. I plan to give him a box of hand tools this summer. Last summer my DH and DS used an old broom handle and tree limb to make a wood mallet. Every kid in my back yard used this tool all summer long. It was even used to build a bridge with sticks.

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