“cheapism helps you find the cheapest "best buys"” — lifehacker

Cheap Kids' Crafts Buying Guide

Cheap kids' crafts, as most parents and teachers know, keep young hands and minds busy. Fortunately, many grade-schoolers like projects that accomplish these goals.

Related Guides:
Educational Toys, Games and Puzzles, Lego, Toy Collectibles, Toy Pets and Stuffed Animals and Toys
While pawing through the toy shelves, we found a number of cheap crafts that don't require a major outlay in order to put a child's creativity to good use. An added bonus: once cheap kids' crafts are assembled, they continue to provide opportunities for creative play and display.

For budding designers, try Harumika Style Starter Sets (starting at $7.75) from toymaker Bandai. Although nominally a cheap toy for girls, the Harumika fashion sets let any style-savvy child create high fashion by tucking and wrapping fabric swatches and accessories around plastic dress forms. This fall, Bandai released a line of Harumika Mannequins (starting at $17), complete with heads, arms, and legs -- features missing from the original dress forms but desired by many little consumers. You can also buy Harumika Style Accents kits, which consist of additional fabric and accessories, as well as purse and shoe kits to the Style Starter sets or Mannequins. A deluxe set, such as the Evening Gown Set (starting at $25), Bridal Collection (starting at $36), or Runway Showstopper Set (starting at $23) are upscale options.

The Friend 2 Friend Friendship Bracelet Kit (starting at $13) from Alex Toys gives children aged 8 and up a way to make friendship bracelets without the frustration that sometimes accompanies cheap crafts requiring lots of manual dexterity. A set of special foam looms enable bracelet weavers to keep track of strings and avoid tangles. Up-and-coming jewelry designers can string together colorful wooden beads with the Gleeful Garden Wooden Bead Set (starting at $10).

Future DIY-ers who like to build can saw and hammer to their heart's content with the Real Construction Starter Workshop (starting at $13) by Jakks Pacific. This cheap toy for boys or girls includes child-safe "tools" and heavy-duty wood-look foam and instructions for six starter projects, such as an airplane or a birdhouse. Replacement foam, called "kid wood," and fasteners can be purchased separately to extend the useful life of this craft toy, as can other child-friendly tools. Dinosaur lovers can forge their own prehistoric pals with a 3-D Dinosaur Woodcraft Construction Kit (starting at $6) by Puzzled, or with a foam construction kit by Blocco, such as the Vilociraptor & Pterosaur (starting at $20) or the larger Dinosaur kit (starting at $20).

Review continues below

Another cheap craft toy is Paperoni (starting at $8), a cheap craft set that lets youngsters create designs by sticking tiny rolls of paper to adhesive forms. Paperoni Deluxe Studio Bendaroos (starting at $6), flexible wax-coated strings that twist, roll, and stick into whatever shapes active imaginations dream up, is also a good cheap gender-neutral craft kit.

The Orb Factory puts out a line of Sticky Mosaic craft kits (starting at $17) with themes like unicorns and ponies, fairies, pirates, and dinosaurs that include small, adhesive foam squares for making mosaics on numbered templates. These cheap craft kits for girls and boys are aimed at the 6 to 10 crowd, but the Orb Factory also offers My First Sticky Mosaic kits (starting at $10) for tots aged 3 and up.

One benefit of giving the gift of a kids' craft toy is that many can be used again and again. One mom writes on the MomsTakeOnThings blog that she can stretch the fun of her daughter's Harumika fashion set with household fabric scraps. The Friend 2 Friend Friendship Bracelets also gets extended life with the purchase of additional embroidery floss, notes a parent in a toys review on Amazon. Even crafts that get "used up" leave behind a work of art for kids to show off or play with, as this toys review on FatBrainToys.com notes about the Melissa & Doug Decorate-Your-Own Wooden Train that a young boy received. Our full review and child tester video review are available for more information.

Art and building projects have good educational value: they teach children about problem solving, awaken creativity, and hone fine-motor skills. Many children find crafting soothing, while others get frustrated or discouraged by projects that are too challenging or just not engaging. The Friend 2 Friend Friendship Bracelet Kit is a good example; some toys reviews on Amazon say kids (including teens) quickly learn the process and are thrilled with the results while others report the instructions are confusing and adult assistance is required. So know your customers and carefully choose a cheap craft toy for kids that caters to their interests and abilities.

by Gina Briles (Google+ Profile)

Back to top »

Filed in: Children, Family, Holidays,

Kids Craft Toys

Paperoni Deluxe Studio
Gold Medal

Paperoni Deluxe Studio

Although our reviewers jumped into their projects with enthusiasm, Paperoni's shortcomings soon became evident.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Harumika Starter Kit
Gold Medal

Harumika Starter Kit

These cheap design kits, popular in Japan, proved to captivate American girls as well.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Mini Mandala Designer
Gold Medal

Mini Mandala Designer

The Mini Mandala Designer would be a suitable gift for detail-oriented children with an artistic bent, but it may discourage those with limited patience or unsteady hands.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Fashion Angels
Gold Medal

Fashion Angels

The Fashion Angels Make-up and Hair Sketch Portfolio targets tweens interested in fashion and beauty in a way that's age-appropriate.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Awesome Origami
Gold Medal

Awesome Origami

The Awesome Origami kit is a fun quiet-time craft that inspires imagination and introduces kids to a new art form.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Friend 2 Friend Friendship Bracelet Kit
Gold Medal

Friend 2 Friend Friendship Bracelet Kit

Crafty kids and BFFs across the globe will find lots to love about the Friend 2 Friend Friendship Bracelet Kit.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
 
Cheapism.com on Facebook
 
Weekly Update: Best Cheap Tires, Cheapest Cities, & More

Warmer temperatures are spreading across the country. It's time to spring-clean your home ...

10 Best Cheap Cities for Raising a Family

For raising a family, these 10 mid-size cities are tops based on factors like cost of living, student spending, crime rates, and household income.

How to Be in Your Best Friend's Wedding Without Breaking the Bank

Wedding party members and guests can keep it cheap with some creative planning, like DIY makeup and group gifts.