Summer Survival Series Part 3: Off-Screen Activities for Arts, Crafts, and Literature

Arts and crafts materials

This summer, camp and home are synonymous. Why not theme your summer around it? Creative kids need creative stimulation; below is a curated list of arts, crafts, and literature boxes that can get those juices flowing. 

Expert Advice: Summer Camp at Home

  • Tip #1 - Create a Summer Theme: Audrey Monke, camp director for 36 years and author of Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, recommends picking a summer “theme” that represents your family’s core values that you would like to focus on this summer. The theme can be shaped around skills you want to develop, like “gratitude,” “service,” “kindness,” “innovation,” or “friendship,” to name a few. 

  • Tip #2 - Create Activities Around Your Theme: Audrey suggests developing activities that resonate with the theme. For instance, if your theme is gratitude, you can help your child start a gratitude journal, share what you’re grateful for at dinner, or create a family gratitude bulletin board. 

  • Tip #3 - Family Campfire: Continuing in the camp-at-home theme, have a five- minute “family campfire” meeting nightly to share something positive. For example, “What did you do today that was kind?” Another example is playing “Rose, Thorn, and Rosebud,” where you share one good thing, one frustrating thing, and one thing you’re looking forward to. 

  • Tip #4 - Flexibility: Negotiate time on and off with work, partners, caregivers, family, and friends. Keeping a work/life balance is difficult right now and flexibility is key in maintaining schedules (and sanity!). 

Activity Boxes

  • KidArtLit
    KidArtLit offers a monthly box with a new hardcover picture book, a corresponding art activity kit for two, and an illustrated guide on how to complete the art project.

    • Age range: Ages 3–8

    • Good for: Any family seeking to update their child’s picture book library and art supplies.

    • Cost: $39.95 per month

  • Wonder Crate
    If your family’s summer theme is activism or innovation, why not expose your children to leaders who helped change the world? Wonder Crate encourages kids to dream big by sending them books and activities based on the Who Was series of books. Themes are based on innovators, artists, sports heroes, Black heroes and activists, or you can choose a combo. Kids will get a book and an art activity, and parents will get an accompanying guidebook. 

    • Age range: Wonder Crate Jr. is recommended for ages 5–7 and Wonder Crate is recommended for ages 8–12.

    • Good for: Kids seeking inspiration and families wishing to teach kids about history and activism.

    • Cost: $29.95 per month

  • Crate-ive Connections
    Created by a trusted partner of Special X, Crate-ive Connections is the brainchild of Barbara Joffe, MA, educator and child development specialist. Billed as the “Family Coach in a Box,” each crate contains interactive activities to help create meaningful, screen-free experiences for your children. Each box has enough activities for a month, including off-screen assignments and activities, fun props, goals for both children and parents, and a 30-minute consultation with Barbara or her associate, Dr. Nay Smith, board-certified behavior analyst and licensed MFT, to help you understand and implement the strategies and techniques behind the activity after you’ve completed it as a family. The first box’s theme is Staycation Activities. For example, on week 2 the family is assigned to create short films: the box provides suggestions and fun props such as a popcorn maker and a Hollywood star.

    • Age range: 6–10, but each box has activities with suggestions for younger and older children because it is meant to appeal to the entire family.

    • Good for: Families who have children with mild to moderate challenges and are seeking deeper connection using hands-on, offscreen activities. The initial consultation allows for specification and individualization for each family.

    • Cost: $200 per box (normally $250; they are offering a 20% discount for the first 25 families who order). You can order individual boxes or subscribe to receive one box per month.

  • Little Passports
    If your family’s summer’s theme is “explore,” Little Passports can show your child the world from the safety of home. They are currently offering a Summer Camp in a Box in world traveler and science themes. The kits offer six days’ worth of activities, with an estimated activity time of 3 to 4 hours per day. If you choose the world edition, your child will receive the first six packages of their curriculum about the world, focusing on Brazil, Japan, France, Egypt, and Australia. The box includes books, DIY crafts, printables, a daily camp schedule, and more. 

    • Age range: Crates come in three age categories: 3–5, 6–8, and 9+

    • Good for: Kids who enjoy arts and crafts projects and learning about other cultures.

    • Cost: Varies, depending on which crate you choose. The Summer Camp in a Box: World Edition is $124.95 for six days of activities. 

  • We Craft Box
    As parents, it’s a challenge to plan art projects and shop in advance for what might be needed. This summer, let the We Craft Box do the work for you. Filled with art supplies, stories, and materials based on a monthly theme, your kids will find much to do and at their own pace. Luckily, each box has enough supplies for two kids, so no one will have to argue. The upcoming July theme is “The Camping Critters.” 

    • Age range: 3–9 years old

    • Good for: Kids who enjoy coloring, cutting, and creative projects. 

    • Cost: $29.99 for month to month, or prepay for several months to lower the price. 


UP NEXT in our Summer Survival Series: Outdoor activities!

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