Handicrafts are handmade items that are usually decorative, ornamental, or utilitarian. From the knotted and woven Anatolian prayer rugs of Turkey, to the baskets of the Pima people of Southern Arizona, handicrafts can be found all around the globe. In fact, some foods are so intricately crafted that they may even be considered edible handicrafts!

Handicrafts are a fun way to introduce your students to the customs, traditions, and cultures of other people groups. You can incorporate them into a variety of subjects, including history, geography, literature, and even math! Plus, handicrafts are a great way to keep kids busy all summer long. Here are a few to try.

Weaving With a piece of cardboard, you can easily make a loom by cutting slits at the top and bottom. Weave yarn, large scraps of fabric, or even elements from nature like leaves, pine straw, and flowers. This is a great way to teach preschoolers about patterns.

Clay Clay is so versatile! Roll it out into a slab and have fun pressing objects into it. Build coil pottery dishes and vases. Sculpt your clay, or pour it into molds. Make earrings, magnets, Christmas ornaments, or wall hangings! Glazing and painting clay is fun, too. In fact, the chemistry of crackle glaze pottery is pretty fascinating.

Beads No need to run to the arts and crafts store: beads can be made from just about anything. The pages of old magazines can be rolled up, glued, and turned into beads. With a little assistance from mom or dad and a power drill, acorn tops, bottle caps, or even hardware from the garage are easily strung. Be sure to carefully watch children when you’re using small pieces.

Sewing Cross stitching, embroidery, knitting, crochet, and leather work are great ways to make useful and decorative items. Sewing on pillowcases, cloth napkins, and personalizing clothing your child already owns is a great way to begin. She may even begin thinking about how many she can make, selling her sewing projects, and entrepreneurship. (See? We told you there’d be math!)

For more ideas about handicrafts, follow us on Pinterest at @nche1984.

If you try one of these projects, be sure to send a picture of your family to media@nche.com. You could be featured in the fall issue of GREENHOUSE magazine.