This year, back-to-school will mean back to classrooms for some and back to home study for others. Whatever schooling arrangement your family chooses, the one sure thing is that this school year just isn’t what we’re all used to. The usual sports and after school activities might be postponed or cancelled in your area, too.
All of this means parents will probably be looking for safe ways to keep children occupied and give them an outlet. Something creative to take away some of the boredom of being at home more.
You can keep their little hands busy with a few easy DIY projects. And even better, you only need a few materials that you can order online (or pick up curbside from a home improvement store), and a few basic tools you probably already have around the house.
Idea #1: A Mailbox Makeover
Brighten up your humdrum mailbox and give your heroic postal worker something to smile about when they deliver your mail. This project is best suited for those kids who can comfortably wear a face mask and use a spray paint can responsibly. To give your mailbox a facelift, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Medium-grit sandpaper
- Protective masks*
- Painters tape
- Aluminum primer
- Metal paint spray paint in a vibrant color
Tag team sanding off rust and old paint on your mailbox while wearing protective masks. Then, have your child assist you with placing painters tape over any address numbers or the mail flag to protect them from being painted. Spray primer and allow it to dry before applying the metal spray paint. To customize your mailbox and make it stand out, use stencils to create flowers, letters, or let your mini Van Gogh freehand different designs.
* The mask is mostly to stop you from inhaling spray paint fumes. You could go with regular paint and just brush it on if you’d rather not use up one of your masks.
Idea #2: Build a Birdhouse
Birds don’t need to stay at home, but they still love having a safe spot to land in your backyard — and it’s exciting for the whole family to watch as they come and go. You can either construct a birdhouse using a pre-cut birdhouse kit (available to order online at most home improvement stores) or you can make the cuts yourself on a 2×6 or even a spare fence post. Have older kids help you nail or wood glue it together and have little ones personalize it with paint to give the birds in your backyard a truly unique home to call their own.
Or, if you want to give your neighborhood squirrels a place to kick back, you can repurpose almost any kind of wood to make an adorable miniature picnic table.
Idea #3: Stencil Paint a Tile Floor
Want to give your tile floor a new look but don’t want to invest the money, time or intensive labor it takes to rip up and lay down a new one? While this project requires patience and attention to detail, your children can pitch in and help out to make it go a little faster. Here’s what you’ll need for this tile stenciling project:
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Painters tape
- Semi- or high-gloss latex paint in both a base color and a design color
- A chosen stencil (create your own or look up one that you like online)
- Foam roller
Begin your project with a deep cleaning of your bathroom floors (and cue the complaints from your kids). Once your floors are squeaky clean, tag team a floor sanding with your kids to help the tiles take paint. Then, tape the perimeter of the room, underneath your vanity cabinet and around your toilet.
Apply primer to the floors and let them dry. Then, paint your base color. Once these coats have dried, you’re now ready for your stenciling. Have your kid help you tape the stencil in place and then paint your design color onto the floor. If your older kids have a steady hand, using two stencils will speed the process along and reveal a beautifully designed floor even quicker. This example can help you visualize a finished product.
Idea #4: Replace Old Drawer Pulls
You’d be surprised at how much of a design impact changing the drawer pulls on a bathroom vanity or kitchen cabinets can have. This inexpensive DIY project is quick to complete and perfect for little hands who can help you hold the hardware while you handle the screwdriver.
All you need for this project are new drawer pulls or knobs (have your child assist you with the measurements to see what size you need) and a screwdriver. Remove the old drawer pulls and have your kid at the ready to put all of the old pieces in a single pile and hand you the screws and the new drawer pulls as you need them.
Want to replace more drawer pulls? Swap out the handles or knobs on an old dresser to give it a new style.