Arts & Crafts

Screen-Free(ish) Sundays: 5 Crafts That Celebrate Self-Expression and Creativity

By: Amanda Mushro
A parent and child lying on the floor, drawing.
For All Ages
Critical Thinking
Fine Motor Skills

Some arts and crafts require kids to follow step-by-step directions — but there’s more than one way to get creative! Sometimes the best way to encourage kids to explore self-expression is to offer up crafts that have endless possibilities and let them use their own ideas to make a masterpiece.  

If you’re looking for inspiration for crafts that will foster your child’s creative side, here are five fun craft ideas for kids that celebrate and encourage self-expression and creativity.  

A child drawing with ice cube paints.

Painting With Ice 

Painting provides limitless opportunities for creativity. This craft idea for kids doesn't require paint brushes, but it still lets them express themselves through colors, shapes and textures. Children can do this activity inside or outside, and they will love seeing their frosty creations come to life. 

What You Need:  

1 cup of water 

Food coloring 

Craft sticks 

Ice cube tray 

Paper or white material 

What You’ll Do:  

  1. Pour the water into the ice tray, put a few drops of food coloring into the cubes, and mix.  
  2. Put a craft stick into each cube and place the tray into the freezer.  
  3. When the ice has frozen, take out each cube and let kids paint with the ice on paper or on leftover scraps of material, or take the painting fun outside and paint on a sidewalk.


A 3-ring binder with card stock pieces to mix and match.

Funny Face Book 

Making this Funny Face Book allows your creative kids to work on art expression along with a few facial expressions. 

What You Need:   

3-ring binder 

Cardstock or construction paper

Hole punch 

Markers or crayons 

Stickers and googly eyes (optional) 

What You’ll Do: 

  1. Cut your cardstock into three equal strips and use a hole punch to make one hole in each strip.  
  2. Place the strips inside the binder so that each ring has equal pieces of cardstock.    
  3. Let kids choose how to draw different facial expressions to show different emotions. If you have googly eyes or stickers, kids can add those to their pages. 
  4. When all the faces are done, mix and match each page to make hilarious funny faces and ask your kids to make up stories for each face.  


Sock puppets decorated with googly eyes and yarn hair.

Sock Puppets 

If you’ve been wondering what to do with your socks that have lost their matches, let your kids transform them into puppets that encourage self-expression as they create their own stories and imaginary adventures.  

What You’ll Need:  


Googly eyes 



Pieces of string or yarn 


What You’ll Do: 

  1. Gather the socks, craft supplies and glue and let your kids make the puppets.
  2. Create faces with the supplies, using the glue to secure the googly eyes and yarn. 

Extend the Fun:  

Once the puppets are ready, ask your kids to put on a puppet show, act out their favorite book or sing along to their favorite songs.


A pair of small hands molding play clay.

Homemade Dough Creations 

What You’ll Need: 

1 1/2 cups flour 

1/2 cup salt 

1 to 1 1/2 cups of boiling water 

2 tablespoons cream of tartar 

2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil 

Food coloring 

What You’ll Do: 

  1. Boil the water.   
  2. Mix together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and olive oil in a bowl.  
  3. Slowly add in the water and mix until you have a dough consistency.  
  4. Divide the dough into different bowls and add a few drops of food coloring into each pile of dough.  
  5. Start mixing with a spoon and knead with your hands to mix the colors thoroughly.  
  6. Let kids mix the colors and use different kitchen utensils like spoons and forks to make different shapes in the dough, or let them build a tiny dough town for their toys.  

Store the dough in airtight containers so when kids are feeling creative, they can bring the dough back out again and again.


A child using chenille stems and pompom balls to make jewelry.

Jewelry Making

What You’ll Need: 

Pipe cleaners (or string for older kids) 




Construction paper 

Pieces of cereal and pieces of candy (optional) 

What You’ll Do:  

Twist the pipe cleaners around beads or pom-poms to make bracelet shaped jewelry. 

Pull the string through buttons and pieces of construction paper to create unique jewelry shapes.