Air dry clay is great to use for crafts with kids. They get a chance to build motor skills and express their creativity through projects that can range from simple to complicated, based on skill level. It’s a fun activity for kids of different ages because everyone can make something.
We love air dry clay because it doesn’t have to be fired in a kiln or oven. Kids just sculpt, wait for it to dry, and then paint (if desired). It’s easy for little hands to mold and doesn’t take as much hand strength as other types of clay.
You can make it at home with baking soda, cornstarch, and water. You can add food coloring if you’d like. Or, you can always buy the Crayola air dry clay for an even easier setup.
You don’t have to guide kids with air dry clay. Most of them are pretty good at coming up with their own ideas.
However, there are times when your kids would like a little inspiration or you want to focus on skills like following directions. We’ve curated a list of air dry clay ideas to help you and your kids make some awesome creations!
Tips for Working With Air Dry Clay
Air dry clay is relatively easy to use, but there are a few tips to make sure you have the best experience. It can be a mess, so you may want to cover your work surface with wax paper to make for an easy clean-up.
When making more elaborate designs, different pieces may not stick together well. Use toothpicks to hold the pieces together and for structure. If your kids make a mistake, they can smooth things over with a little bit of water.
It takes air dry clay up to two days to dry. Turn the project over halfway through the drying process. If your little one is too anxious to wait, you can put it in the oven at its lowest temperature. After a few hours, it should be ready.
Favorite Air Dry Clay Ideas
Below are a few of the best air dry clay ideas. Try these out with your kids for a fun activity!
1. Clay Coil Pots
Project by The Craft Train
A coil pot, also known as a rope pot, is a classic clay project for kids of all ages. These made by The Craft Train are simple to make using only the clay and a rolling pin.
Once the pots are dry, kids can use acrylic paint to give them any design they like. Lastly, a coat of Modge Podge gives it a nice seal for a finished look.
2. Pasta Mosaic in Clay
Project by Buggy and Buddy
We love this air dry clay project because it blends two art forms – sculpture and mosaic. In addition to air dry clay, you’ll also need pasta dyed in a rainbow of colors. Kids will make tiles in different shapes and then use the pasta to make floral mosaics.
These kids’ crafts make the perfect decoration for spring and are also great Mother’s Day gifts. Since there isn’t a lot of sculpting involved, even smaller kids can make them.
3. Whale Phone Holder Craft
Project by Doodle and Stitch
Even older kids will get excited about air dry clay projects if you mention smartphones! This adorable whale sculpture doubles as a phone holder. It’s easy to make and paint, so even less artistic kids can feel successful.
This whale phone holder will be cute in a kid’s room, and it also makes a great gift for friends and family members.
4. DIY Pencil Toppers
Project by the Auburn Artisan
If you’re looking for cute and simple crafts that serve a purpose, these pumpkin patch clay pencil toppers are just the thing. They’re easy to make, especially for younger kids, as they can make simple designs. Crafting these builds fine motor skills as well.
Kids can paint these in bright colors to make writing even more fun. You can put these on pencils or attach them to craft sticks to create a whimsical display.
5. Seashell Creatures
Project by The Decorated Cookie
We love using mixed media, especially with clay projects. This seashell creatures craft tutorial is perfect for families who have just returned from a trip to the beach. If your kids collected a lot of shells and you’re likely looking for something to do with them.
Instead of letting the shells sit in a bucket, bring them back to life by creating air dry sea creatures. These adorable creatures make cute decorations for desks and shelves and are a way for your kids to cherish and remember a trip to the beach.
6. Handprint Bowl
Project by Messy Little Monster
Air dry clay is ideal for making keepsakes, especially with small kids. This handprint bowl from the Messy Little Monster is adorable and easy for even your younger kids to make. You just roll out the clay and you child makes a handprint. You cut out the handprint with a knife.
If you want, you can use clay tools to make patterns in the clay. Once it’s dry, let your child paint it. This craft makes a great gift for birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.
7. Dinosaur Eggs
Project by Adventure in a Box
If you have a budding paleontologist, they’ll love this dinosaur egg air dry clay craft. These eggs are made with plastic Easter eggs. You simply put the clay in part of the egg, put a toy dinosaur in the middle, and then fill the rest with clay.
After removing the egg from the plastic, you can use tools to give them texture. Once dried, you can paint them or leave them white.
These eggs are so fun because once they’re dry, you can use them for a fun outdoor egg hunt. Kids can then use a small hammer to break them and find the dinosaur inside. This clay project would be perfect for a dinosaur-themed birthday party.
8. Painted Mosaic Pinch Pots
Project by Handmade Charlotte
Do you have little ones who like to hold onto every little trinket? They can create these painted mosaic pinch pots to hold all of their tiny treasures. Pinch pots are one of the easiest crafts to make with air dry clay and they make great gifts.
Little artists have two options with these. They can use leftover beads and sequins to make a mosaic or design on their bowls. Letter beads can be used to make their name. If they don’t want to use beads, they can wait until their pots dry and paint cute faces on the top.
9. Air Dry Clay Sunbursts
Project by Apricot Polka Dot
These air dry clay sunbursts are so easy to make but look like something bought in a store. We love this air dry clay project because it’s simple but the end result is something that you’ll actually want to display.
To make these whimsical sunbursts, you’ll just need some thin wooden craft sticks and paint to go with your air dry clay. Little ones will enjoy putting the sticks into the clay and the craft can help build hand strength, an important development for writing.
10. DIY Mini Succulent Planters
Project by Burkatron
If your child is into both art and gardening, these DIY mini succulent planters are a perfect choice. We like this design because it doesn’t look like the same little planters that children always bring home from art class. These are classy and fun to make.
You’ll need to use actual planters to create a base. Once you’ve covered it with the clay, you’ll create texture by using the end of a pen to create dots. Little artists can always get creative and try their own texture styles as well.
Once finished, you can plant succulents in them. You can use this as an opportunity to teach your kids about plants and plant types. If you’re terrible at growing plants, you can always go with faux succulents to put in your planters.
11. Clay Mountain Photo Holder
Project by Doodle and Stitch
This clay mountain photo holder craft made out of air dry clay is the perfect project for kids who love to adventure. In addition to clay and paint, you’ll need a knife to cut out the triangle shape and some thin wire that you can coil around to make the photo holder.
Once finished, these clay crafts are a great way to display some of your favorite photos. Add them to your home decor to show off your love for adventuring.
12. Air Dry Clay Bracelets
Project by Applgreen Cottage
One of our favorite air dry clay ideas is making jewelry. Kids with a flair for fashion will love making their own jewelry, or it can be used for gifts for loved ones, such as for Mother’s Day or Teacher Appreciation Week.
This lovely clay idea lets children make bracelet beads using air dry clay. Little ones can easily make these beads, while other sculptors can make them more complicated and focus on factors like pattern, shape, and size.
Once finished, paint in your favorite colors and use string or twine to string them together. A sealer like Modge Podge will protect the beads and give them a glossy look.
Air dry clay is one of the best materials to use for crafts with kids. It’s easy for them to shape and requires very little effort – you don’t even need a kiln.
There are so many fun things that children can make with it. Be sure to try the ideas above and come up with some of your own. The possibilities are endless!