The men and women who serve our country in military service deserve to be appreciated and honored. They sacrifice so much to preserve freedom and protect the nation from enemies. One way to teach children about the military and the important jobs our soldiers do every day is to create free military-themed crafts. Military crafts may serve as decoration, a toy or a gift.
Create Army crafts with things from around the house. Use a camouflage-patterned bed sheets to create an army bunker tent. If you do not have a camouflage-patterned sheet or fabric, turn a white sheet into a camo pattern with green and brown fabric paint. Simply drape the sheet over chairs to hold it up and create a tent. Though this tent is sufficient for some military pretend, consider creating a more elaborate army tent. Create an "A-frame structure out of PVC pipes and cut some windows in the tent. Use a black mesh laundry bag to fill in the window hole. Use the pillow case of the sheet set as a storage bag to hold the tent. Cut out the shape of an army man from felt and sew or glue it to the pillow case. Add a snap or drawstring closure to the pillow case.
Another Army-themed craft is to make a small military camp for plastic army men figures. Use real and fake plants, scraps of camouflaged fabric and naturally found objects like sticks and rocks to create a camp for the small action figures.
Create Navy-themed crafts out of common items. Draw a picture of a US Navy aircraft carrier on a piece of poster board, using a picture as reference. Add water and sky to the picture for decorative purposes. Draw and cut out pictures of Navy air planes and use tape to add and remove the planes. Kids will have fun "flying" the planes and then letting them land again on the aircraft carrier.
Create a large flannel graph scene with Navy ships. Use a piece of blue flannel for the background and cut out the shapes of various Naval ships to add to the fleet. Kids will learn about the various types of ship as they play with with the flannel graph. If you don't have flannel pieces, simply draw the ships out of paper and cut them out. Draw the scene on poster board and add the ships with sticky tape.
Create Air Force-themed crafts with simple craft items. Use a plastic grocery bag and a small toy airmen to create a paratrooper. Simply fold two pipe cleaners in half and loop each one around one handle of a plastic grocery bag. Twist the remaining length of pipe cleaners around the shoulders of a small plastic army man figure. Drop the toy airman from up high and watch him float to the ground. If the bag is not catching enough air, enlarge the opening of the bag.
Fold paper into the shape of airplanes, such as an F-117 Stealth Fighter.
Marines, Coast Guard and Other
Use a clean white T-shirt and some fabric paint to create a Marines or Coast Guard pride T-shirt. Draw a picture of the Marine or Coast Guard insignia on the shirt or use their slogans and embellish.
Create a care package to send to an enlisted serviceman serving over seas. Contact the VFW for information as to where to send a care package to a member of the armed services. Paint a shoe box white and add embellishments such as stickers or drawings. A plastic shoe box covered with stickers is another option. Fill the box with useful, heart-felt and just plain fun objects for the recipient. Add a hand-drawn picture with a heartfelt note on the back to the box.
Teach children about our country's veterans by making "Thank you" cards to deliver to veterans. Use crayons, markers star stickers and other craft materials to create a card. Feature images of the American flag, soldiers and other military or patriotic images. Remember to write "thank you" on the top or inside of the card. Hand-deliver the cards to a military hospital, VFW Club or to a veteran you know personally.
Stephanie Kelley has been writing articles and columns online for SGM Radio and SGN Scoops Digital since 2005. She has a Bachelor of Arts in art history/anthropology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. and writes on a number of topics including art, frugal living, children and travel.