5 kid-friendly DIY projects

Having young children fills our house with a lot of noise and a lot of laughter. They keep us so busy, it also makes me wonder when we will ever get to concentrate on some of the basic home projects on our ever-growing list. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that if we ever want to get anything done, we have to find a way to involve them.

Paint a room

I distinctly remember helping my parents paint their bedroom when we moved into our new house. I made a giant smiley face on the wall and some clouds and other things. They only let me do the undercoat, of course -- I was 4 -- but it was loads of fun. With a little direction and supervision, even young children can help paint their bedroom. If you want to let creativity run free, give them a wall, or a portion of a wall, and let them make their own mural. It’s just paint, after all.

Plant a window box

A small container or window box is just the right size to introduce kids to the basics of planting. If your kids are like mine, they already love to dig in the dirt, but to help keep everyone on task, make sure you have all your tools and supplies ready to go when you start your project. Over time, your kids will enjoy a real sense of ownership in watching these plants and flowers grow.

Build a bat house

Did you know that a single bat can eat 500-1,000 mosquitoes an hour? Yes, an hour. So if you live in an area besieged by biters in the summer, this simple carpentry project could be just right for your family to work on together. What better way to teach your kids about how ecosystems work? OK, or you can use it to get into the spirit for Halloween. However you do it, Bat Conservation International has a wealth of information on its website, including these plans for a single-chamber bat house.

Clean your drains

“What?” you ask. “I’d never let my kids near a bottle of harsh, caustic chemicals!” I wouldn’t either. But you don’t have to. There are simple DIY solutions for cleaning a slow or unstopping a clogged drain. Your kids can help mix your recipe and run the water for you. It’s like a mini science experiment.

DIY drain cleaner recipe:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup cream of tartar

Mix ingredients together in a resealable container. Pour 1/4 cup of your mixture into your drain. Pour 2 cups of boiling water down the drain and let stand for 30 minutes to an hour. Follow by flushing the drain with fresh water from the tap.

Make stepping stones

Homemade stepping stones are a wonderful way to dress up and personalize a garden or walkway. You can buy kits at craft stores, but they are expensive, and you can get results just as nice with things you collect around your house and at the hardware store.


  • Bag of Quikrete cement or mortar mix
  • A mold (You can use old baking pans, used pizza boxes, disposable food tins or other containers that seem suitable.)
  • Decorations (Shells, marbles and even laminated pictures may be used; be creative!)

Mix your concrete according to the instructions, fill your mold and add your assorted decorations. The result will be something you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

Whatever home projects you have on your list, try to find a way to involve your kids, at whatever age, in an appropriate way. It will help give them a sense of ownership in your home and important life skills for the future -- and it’s a wonderful way to spend time together.


Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content -- practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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