One craft project that I have found to be successful, whether working with young children (SUPERVISED) or middle-aged adults is Sculpey clay, or polymer clay.
Polymer clay is a clay-like substance essentially made out of plastic. It is very easy to use--and more importantly--very easy to clean! You just take your polymer clay, mold it, perhaps paint it, bake it for just a few minutes and--voila! You have a work of art!
I have seen all different types of projects done with polymer clay, from elaborate sculptures, to beautiful jewelry, to fun and quirky charms--some that even look like real desserts! Yum!
The point is it's great for any skill level and, mostly, any age. And if your little one decides to take a little taste, don't get too worried--it's non-toxic (sadly I know this from experience of having to deal with this situation--very scary ordeal!)---although...try not to let that happen...(>_>)
I decided to share a post about polymer clay today because I'm kind of celebrating. I'm a member at HubPages and today I earned "Hub of the Day" for a tutorial I did on how to make a cute and simple polymer mermaid charm.
If this is something that interests you, I'd suggest checking it out because it's really fun to do. I included step by step pictures to help you out, so if you are nervous--don't worry! I intend to add more tutorials in the future, so look out for them!
I also wrote another Hub on some of my favorite polymer clay tutorials.
Anyway, more on polymer clay!
There are actual very many different types of polymer clay and several different brands. One of the most popular brands I've seen in America is Sculpey and Sculpey itself comes in lots of different types.
For my mermaid charms I used Sculpey III. This is the type I would recommend using if you intend to do this just for fun or with children. It is soft, which makes it easier for children to manipulate (some polymer clays are SO hard you have to stick them in a blender to soften them up to use!). Of course, being so soft is a bit of a drawback as well--it makes it a lot harder to do more elaborate, detailed work. When dealing with kids though, this doesn't really matter all that much.
I would strongly suggest using Sculpey III if you are new to sculpting or polymer clay and then try some of the other types, like Sculpey or Fimo, once you get a feel for it.
One other thing I really like about Sculpey III was all the great colors it comes in. For my mermaids I used Sculpey III Brights. BUT blending polymer clay is a lot like blending paint--you just take a little of this and a little of that and mix it up. This could be an interesting way to teach kids about colors---and a lot less messy than using paints!
Not only does it make a great art project, but kids can use it as a science experiment as well by investigating what makes it work. I did this myself when I was first introduced to it and it's REALLY interesting!
So if you're looking for something new to do, try it out! There are so many things you can make it's amazing! Check out my Pinterest board on Polymer Clay for some inspiration on the types of projects you can do!