Family Reunion simple easy crafts for kids – The Traveling Closet

by Mary Ann on July 18, 2011


baby sitting on dog pictures

Family reunions are wonderful. We about 10 dogs this year!!!

Reunions can be wonderful, emotionally draining, enlightening, fun, tiring and the list goes on. Being with a large group of people that you have a sometimes love/hate relationship with can bring out a lot of emotions.

I come from a large and close knit family that is anything but perfect. We have many traits that are magnificent and others that could use work. We have a reunion every year, same time, same place. There are as many as 130 of us who attend. When I got home on Sunday afternoon I went to bed and slept until 8:00 this morning.

childrens auction picture

The children's auction doesn't raise much money but is a blast and a highlight of our reunion

Here is what I noticed at this year’s reunion.

  • All of us aging members seem to have changed a lot – for the better. (If we don’t count thighs!)
  • We still have a large group of younger people coming and new families. Yeaaaaa.
  • The lake was high, there was no beach and it was gross!!!
  • I got tired faster. I will have to exercise more. : )
  • I like working with the children still!!!
  • I am glad that I went.
family reunion picture

Here is the enlightening part of the reunion - learning what everyone else is doing to move forward

I was in charge of the family fun crafts (the 2nd year). So the Traveling Closet for today is a run down of what we did at our family reunion and how it went, and the simple easy crafts we had for kids.

Last year was a mess!!

  • I didn’t want to close the center down but I didn’t want to be up there all day
  • I asked the parents to go when their children were there
  • They didn’t, so it was unattended often
  • Kids need adults around
  • It took a lot of energy and time to clean up each evening
  • Lots of items were left in the center and got thrown away because children forgot to come and get them (we plan for 30+ children)
girl with her bird house picture

Reagan making a bird house her own way

This year was tremendous!!

  • The center was closed Thursday (set up day), open 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon on Friday and open 2 hours Saturday evening, after the lake
  • It was manned by adults all the time
  • It was a breeze to clean up
  • It was fun and all the children took their items to their cabins and tents, no throw aways this year
little girl coloring pictures

Holding that darn paper still so Maggie can color

I had chosen the family fun crafts based on low cost, simple materials, ease of creation for a wide age range

and that wouldn’t need too much adult direction.

Popsicle stick crafts picture

Popsicle stick Door hanger and trinket box

List of Simple and easy family reunion crafts we did:

We made name plates for bedroom doors and a trinket box out of Popsicle sticks, painted bird houses and other wooden items I had gotten from Lowe’s, made nature journals and simple cardboard flower presses, foam visors, God’s eyes, and there were loads of pictures to color, mazes to do and puzzles to solve, as well as a family reunion game which was a choice of three nature treasure hunts to go on.

Here are a few stories about the experience. One little girl when making her trinket box used over half a bottle of glue. Her dad had come up to help out but got very involved in making a project of his own. In fact after all the children were gone he was still working. He spent about 3 hours on his project!

Anyway, he commented on her use of so much glue. I said, “That’s alright. The wax paper will peel off and the glue was cheap.” He gave me a quizical look and then just let her create. (I buy my glue, makers, scissors, paper, tape, etc during back to school specials so I don’t need to bug kids about the cost or how they use the materials.)

dad daughter making popsicle stick crafts

Daryl and Aurora creating - notice Aurora's glue : )

She put both a bottom and a top on her box. I mentioned to her that she might want her lid separate but she said “No”. Later she had me ad a hanger so she could hang her box on the wall. And that is how it went. I gave simple directions for each project, had a visual sample there, and then they did their own thing unhindered by my or anyone else’s expectations.

 girl with trinket box picture

Aurora's "hang on the wall" trinket box

One three year old wanted his name plate to be a really long one. So he glued two sticks end to end before adding the cross pieces. I wondered if it would hold and it did. Good going Hayden.

Another six year old made his name plate like a house with a door. The door had hinges (two foam pre-sticky “o’s”.) Amazing! Nice job Jacob.

popsicle stick door hanger craft picture

The "house" door hanger - notice cool hinge!

I noticed that the older the child the more they copied the sample, the younger the child the greater the desire to experiment and improvise. Hmmmm, that says something!!

kids making popsicle stick crafts

Jocelyn, Kai, Mary Ann, Maggie, Makaya, Dawnlyn, Aurora

Here is what the parents do while we are doing projects and crafts in the lodge! Someone mentioned to me this year what a great babysitter I am!!

lady sleeping in chair picture

Amber, mother of 4 taking a much needed rest

baby climbing ladder

Why mom's at reunions need a rest!! Mary discovering the joy of ladder climbing. (Ladder used to hang the zip line!)

But it isn’t just rest that goes on. Here is a mom of six studying her pre-algebra in the quiet moments.

lady studying algebra pictures

Tammy getting her own education. Remember, you not them!

Bryceon came to give me a hug when they were ready to drive out on Sunday. He said, “My girls said they really love the craft lady”. That is because I let them create, don’t bug them to do it “the right” way, listen, converse and like being with them!!!

kid making Gods eye picture

Laura teaching Makaya to make a God's Eye

Next year Laura is taking over for me. She really picked my brain before we left the site. I think she will do a fabulous job. Here are some tips that will help her and anyone who is going to work with children.

Tips for working with children:

  • Prepare ahead. Know what you are doing and have all the materials ready.
  • Let kids do it it their way unless it is unsafe.
  • Don’t worry about wasted materials. It really doesn’t matter. They are little and they don’t waste that much.
  • Look for simple materials and don’t spend a lot of money.
  • Get some other adult support. The kids don’t need it, you do!! : )
  • Have fun!!!
kid making nature journal picture

Jacob working on his nature journal

Door hanger craft for kids –

How to make a Trinket Box –

How to press flowers:

To make cardboard Flower Press – Cut two rectangles of corrugated cardboard.  Add layers of newsprint or other absorbent paper and place these in the press. Choose leaves and flowers that are not too thick. Place between two sheets of the absorbent paper. When you have all the leaves and flowers that you want put the other piece of corrugated cardboard on top and secure the whole stack together with 4-5 rubber bands. Give it about a week to press and dry. Use your flowers to tape into a nature journal and then label or make a wonderful craft using your dried items. You will find many suggestion on the web.

flower press picture

Makaya's flower press

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny J. July 19, 2011 at 2:37 am

“I am the craft lady” she says…”I let them create, I don’t bug them to ‘do it right’…”
My mother is amazing. I may change this world because of her.


Mary Ann July 19, 2011 at 2:46 am

Jenny you will change the world because of you!!! You are soooo amazing and thank you for the pat on the back. I love you!


Michelle July 20, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Hi there,

I love your site! I purchased the summer fun kit a few days ago and have not received any confirmation etc. I couldn’t find your contact information sorry. Could you email me? thanks,



Mary Ann July 21, 2011 at 12:20 am

Hi Michelle,
Hope that it is taken care of now. You and your children are going to have a wonderful time!


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