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10 best kids’ craft kits

Nurture their creativity with a fun and practical (and not too messy) make-your-own set

A craft session when there’s a proper project to complete or a new skill to learn can be really good fun ( Selfie Clothing Company )

Craft. An innocuous, one syllable word that can induce flashbacks of paint splatters and glue spills in the hardiest of parent.

But when the weather is rubbish and you’re feeling guilty about parenting via Netflix, sometimes there’s just no escaping it. And actually, a craft session when there’s a proper project to complete or a new skill to learn can be really good fun, not to mention a source of cheap and well received presents for the grandparents.

Below are a set of options designed for different ages and covering a range of activities. As always with little people, please make your own decision about safety and suitability based on the skills – and concentration levels – of the individual in question.

Hobby Craft paint your own dinosaur money box: £3,50, hobbycraft.co.uk

You can buy as many artisan gift sets as you like, but our three-year-old tester was absolutely delighted with this low budget ceramic T Rex. She dutifully lathered the toothy chap in all six of the paint colours provided, rendering it a potentially realistic mud brown colour; the only problem being is that she now expects money to put in it. 

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Tech Will Save Us sew and glow kit: £19.99, Tech Will Save Us

This absolutely ingenious kit from the award-winning people at Tech Will Save Us harnesses an eight-year-old’s love of brightly coloured accessories to get them both crafting and learning a bit about electronics. Children of about eight and up (its a bit fiddly, so not much younger than that) can use the felt provided plus conductive electro-thread and a bit of circuitry to design custom-made badges that light up at the touch of a button. There are lots of extra ideas and tips on the company’s "Club Make" site. 

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Galt first pottery kit: £10, John Lewis & Partners

This simple pottery kit, marketed at children aged six and up, contains a chunky 1.2kg slab of air-drying pottery as well as rolling pin, shaping tool, 12 small pots of ceramic paints plus paintbrush and guide. In short, there are plenty of materials here for children to make a big mess, but also to create plenty of pinch pots and unidentifiable animals to share around lucky relatives. Put a big plastic table cloth down before you start, this is probably one for kids of at least six, unless you just want to make a pile of mush.

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Chad Valley be U card making kit: £10, Argos

This cheap and cheerful set is a great option as a children’s party gift. There are 10 blank cards and envelopes inside (more can easily be made using sheets of card), along with all manner of things with which to adorn them, including googly eyes, glitter glue, stickers and pompoms. Plus, its is all packed up in a surprisingly handy (if not achingly beautiful) plastic three-drawer storage unit; perfect for stashing all those sparkly bits and pieces that are the mainstay of so many craft cupboards. Great for a child of any age uncynical enough to want to make sweet homemade cards. 

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Melissa and Doug stringing beads: £9.74, Amazon

With 240 wooden beads (letters of the alphabet plus stars, hearts and the like) plus eight laces and clasp sets, there’s enough gear here for the recipient to make and unmake personalised charm bracelets for family members and friends. Buying more laces would be a simple task if there are beads left over once the first eight designs are finalised, and if the whole thing feels a bit twee – you can convince yourself that at least they’re practicing their spelling.  

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My RSPB nature craft box: £8.93, Wordery

Inside this wildlife friendly kit are bunting triangle and four animal masks for colouring, recipes to make with adult assistance and a booklet featuring the instructions (although not the materials) for 20 craft projects, including a bird puppet and flower crowns. For those who get twitchy sitting at a craft table there are also 12 cards featuring ideas for activities such as ‘Caterpillar Crawl Races’, although there is no ribbon or string included with which to complete your bunting or attach the masks to little faces. Marketed at children of six to nine but younger kids could do at least some of these activities.

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Usborne press-out paper village: £8.99, blackwells.co.uk

Pleasingly fiddly – someone somewhere will be marketing this under mindfulness – and blissfully mess free, requiring neither glue nor scissors, this is an old fashioned affair requiring lots of folding along lines and slotting tabs together. The result is a complete paper village, with school, tea room, cottages and people, with no plastic packaging to bin and not a single sequin. The inside cover of the hardback book folds out to form a base for the village, with playground, roads and gardens. Good for about age six (the patient ones) and up.

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Selfie Clothing Company neo memphis colour in cap with fabric pens: £19.50, notonthehighstreet.com

This baseball cap from the Selfie Clothing Company comes complete with six fabric pens with which a child can colour in the eighties-style black and white pattern to create a riotous piece of customised head gear. The cap is decent quality, the pens work well and there is even a balloon to inflate and put inside the hat to aid colouring in. Be aware that the pens are permanent, so supervise small children and colour or hide anything that you don’t want to be inadvertently graffiti-ed. Suitable for children of any age from about three, unless they’ve got really massive heads.

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The Book People DIY board games: £9.99, thebookpeople.co.uk

A colouring-in and sticker based extravaganza that results in five old-school board games that can be kept and played rather than – as is the case with so many of our little darlings’ crafty efforts – quietly retired to the bin. Includes four games that everyone has heard of – ludo, backgammon, draughts and snakes and ladders – plus the slightly more random game of the goose, with boards and counters plus wooden dice included (colouring pens are not). Aimed at children of four and above, and a great value option for a classmate’s birthday.

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Chocolate At Home make your own dinosaur chocolate lolly pop kit: £13.95, notonthehighstreet.com

There are far cheaper ways to get your hands on a few chocolate lolly pops of course, but what you’re really buying here is an afternoon of quality time with your little person. The kit contains a reusable mould for making four different kinds of dinosaur, plus four sticks and the chocolate to make your first batch – including strawberry, lemon and orange buttons for melting and painting features. The pictures of course feature dainty crafted dinos with neat stripes and carefully-defined spiky plates. The reality, if your child does actually help, is likely to be somewhat more abstract. Yummy though. 

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The verdict: Kids' craft kits

For younger children, it is hard to beat the dinosaur money box for a great value craft project they can keep. For older kids, the sew and good kit is both ingenious and educational.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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