For Christmas this year, Cedar and I were going to make homemade wool felt play food kits for the kids in our family, as holiday gifts. However, we’re not the best sewers. We made some and did okay, but we need more practice before our sewing crafts are gift-ready. Still, since we wanted to make homemade gifts vs. buy toys or something else, we had some brainstorming sessions and settled on homemade recycled chunky crayons and homemade memory games.
If you’re looking for a fun homemade gift project that your child can help with (my ten-year-old easily helped to make these) then this game is a great fit. Memory is fun and educational for young children. This game can help teach shapes, colors and words. You could even make a game with matching numbers or letters to help teach other early childhood comprehension skills.
This homemade memory game is also quick (so last minute if necessary) and allows you to use up excess paper scraps and stickers you have laying around the house. Plus it’s very inexpensive and nice if you’re aiming for a low-cost, non-commercial holiday.
Time taken: About two evenings of concentrated work – all-in-all we made games for three kids in about 6 hours. Not bad. It would have been faster had we used wooden squares vs. stars because there would have been no tracing and exact cutting involved, but the stars are soooo darn cute.
Cost – about $15 for three kids: We looked for a sale and found some wooden stars for about $15 in bulk packs. We had paper, glue and the other stuff laying around the house.
Here’s what you’ll need
- Wooden shapes. These are easily found at most craft stores. If you’re super crafty and have some sort of wood shop, you could make your own, but alas, that’s not us. Most people go with squares or circle, but for fun, we decided to go with stars. You can also find thick recycled cardboard squares or make some, but after making some game pieces with both wood and cardboard, we felt the wood looked a lot better and felt more sturdy.
- Scrap paper and some large sheets of matching paper for the backs of the game pieces.
- Design items – Stickers, paint or more scrap paper for the design side. I.e. the side with the two matching objects.
- Little bags (which you could make with reuse fabric) or small recycled boxes.
- Pencil, scissors and a bit of sandpaper.
Making your game
- If using star shapes trace the stars onto your paper then cut the stars out. Note – because wooden stars vary in size, be sure to mark a little arrow on your star and on the back of your paper so you know how the paper fits onto the wood. If using a uniform shape, it’s a lot easier. Simply trace one piece, then cut the rest of your paper to the same size.
- Coat your wood with the water based glue/sealer, then press the paper on firmly. Repeat until all your wood pieces have one side that match (i.e. the side you lay out to start the game).
- Then choose matching scraps of paper or stickers or even paint matching designs on the other sides of your wood.
- Coat your wood pieces, front and back with two or three coats of sealer – this will make the paper much less likely to come off in little hands.
- Sand any rough edges with a bit of sandpaper. This is a good job for a kid helper.
- You can put the finished game in a little reusable fabric drawstring bag or small recycled box.
- You can make a memory game like this with real photos of people your child knows. The sealer works on photos.
- We’re making our games for kids who are two through four, so we picked easily recognizable designs for young children – i.e. strawberries, flowers, bees, ants and so on.
- Consider making theme games such as holiday, birthday, Easter, Valentine’s day or so on.
- Experiment with different shapes of wood, plenty of color and even different sizes – all of which help young children learn new things. Fun shapes can be used for stacking fun too.
- Be sure to add a little label about how to play the game. I found some adorable wooden labels (shown above) stockpiled in my craft drawer which would work great – but you could print out a label on the computer too.