Crafting is a fun, wholesome activity for young teens and “tweens,“ those who are between the age of young childhood and the time when they have the freedom that many older teens enjoy. Between the ages of 10 and 14 is a good time to encourage crafting, both as a fun activity to fill up free time and an outlet for expressing young teens’ and tweens’ blooming creativity.
A craft that can be worn after making it is particularly appealing to many tweens and young teens. While nearly all crafts produce a sense of pride and accomplishment, things that are also worn are likely to bring praise or admiration from friends, something that is very important for those at this age.
Tie-dye is a technique that has been around for decades but continues to be fun and popular with boys and girls. Avoid complicated, multi-colored dye patterns for this age group. A single color of dye is less messy for you and not frustrating for young crafters. Tie-dye T-shirts as well as lightweight shorts, bandannas, pajamas or any plain, woven fabric that will accept dye.
Decorating footwear also is a fun, wearable craft project. Begin with cheap canvas tennis shoes and let your young crafter draw on designs with a permanent marker or fabric paint. Fabric paint can be brushed on or squeezed out through a tip to make thin lines and writing. Look for metallic or puffy paints for extra interest.
Another way to decorate canvas shoes is by covering them with strips of tissue paper that have been dipped in an outdoor decoupage solution. Lay down several colors of tissue paper scraps to achieve a stained-glass effect. If you brush on multiple coats of the decoupage solution to protect the shoes, they should last through the summer. Just be sure the decoupage solution is made for outdoor use.
For an ultra-simple way to decorate footwear, string pony beads on shoelaces. Put four or five pony beads on the shoelace and let them fall to the center of the lace. Put the shoelace through the two holes nearest the toe of the shoe, where the beads will be held in place. Finish lacing the shoes and then put a couple beads on each end. Tie knots at the ends of the laces to secure the beads.
Having personal space is very important to teens and tweens. Help them make their space uniquely their own with items they craft themselves.
Remember the tie-dye idea for clothing? Take it one step further and dye a bed sheet or pillowcase. A plain sheet that is tie-dyed also could be draped over a window to serve as a curtain.
A collage is an easy and cheap way to display all the things a boy or girl likes best. Cut out magazine pictures of sports figures, pop stars, music idols or pictures related to a favorite hobby or activity. Glue the pictures hodgepodge onto a large piece of cardboard. Around the edge of the cardboard, make a “frame” by laying down a line of glue and sprinkling it with glitter. Use a piece of cardboard from an appliance box to make a large collage or cut a small, narrow piece of cardboard to fit inside a school locker.
Deborah H. Schreiben is a freelance writer and an editor with more than 15 years experience in the field of journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Almeda University. Her writing has appeared on various online sites and in Midwest newspapers.