Craft Ideas for Kids | Whittled Picture Frames image

Whittling is one of those things that I'm really glad my kids did at kindergarten - as in, I'm really glad they did it there, as I never would have dared to give them knives to craft with! But, lo and behold, they came home with these beautiful things that they'd carved out of wood, all fingers intact, so I decided I would brave it at home.

Ever a lover of rules and instructions, I grilled my kids for what their teachers had said and also bought a book, Easy Wood Carving for Children, to boost my confidence. These are the rules:

  • A responsible adult should always be supervising
  • Whittling knives should not be handled by children under the age of 6
  • Create a safety bubble around yourself, making sure no one is within arms reach
  • Always whittle in the direction away from your body
  • Do not whittle on your lap or too close to your legs

And my own piece of advice would be: start easy! It turns out that when my kids said they were 'whittling' at kindergarten they were actually using whittling peelers, though they did graduate to knives during their bushcraft lessons at school. Being completely new to whittling myself I was amazed to discover how good it feels to sit there and simply peel the bark off a stick!

Some of the children I was with created wands in this way and pranced around the forest casting spells. Another easy thing to do is create a point at one end and stick it into an apple or marshmallow, so that you can roast them over a campfire.

It's exciting to see what you can find on the forest floor and turn it into something else, but if you want particularly straight sticks, or something more supple to work with, you can saw off a piece off Hazel. We are lucky that it grows abundantly where we live.

After sharpening the ends into points we suddenly had a tribe of spear throwers darting around the forest, which was quickly diverted into a javelin competition by one of our responsible adults!

Our main project, taken from the book, was making picture frames out of sticks. We're always on the look out for craft projects that can be used as presents and there are a couple of people in our lives that love working with wood, whom we thought would appreciate these.

You will need: 4 Sticks, Whittling Peeler, Rasp, Hand drill, Screws, Screwdriver, Paper, Paints, Drawing pins. Optional: Saw, Whittling Knife

1. Peel about a fifth of the back of your sticks away, so that they are flat on one side. (This is so that you have an even, flat surface when it comes to attaching whatever you would like to put in the frame).

2. At the points where the four corners of your frame will be meeting each other, create notches so that they can sit together. For two of the sticks the notches will be on the bark side, for the other two they will be on the peeled side.

In the book it recommends using a chisel but we didn't feel comfortable doing this with the age group of children we had. We ended up using a combination of sawing, whittling and rasping. The whole thing can be done with a rasp if this feels more appropriate, it just takes longer.

3. Once you have got your notches lined up lay your frame so that it is face down. Use the hand drill to make the holes for the screws. (The drill can come out the other side of both sticks much quicker than you think so make sure you're not on a surface that can't be damaged!).

4. Attach all your sticks together using screws.

And now you can think about what you want to put in your frame!

We did paintings and attached them with drawing pins, and made them hanging frames with some Jute Cord.

I'm really glad I got that book as it's opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibility. We already loved playing in the forest but now I see crafting materials everywhere! One of the most inspiring things in the book for us was the page on Dolphins - now we are always looking at the bends in the sticks we pick up to see if they can be used to add to our pod.

There is also another beautiful book available, Forest Craft, and I can't wait to see what other ideas are in there.

Conscious Craft have an amazing selection of Tools for Children, which includes Cut Protective Gloves if you would like to take extra precautions. In their Forest School section you will find a handy First Pocket Knife, and when you are ready to take your whittling projects to the next level they have a beautiful Wood Carving Set.

We hope you are feeling as inspired as us, crafting with the most natural of materials!


Disclaimer: Whilst whittling and woodwork are carried out safely by many children on a regular basis, there is of course more risk of injury than when you are crafting with other materials and tools. Please adhere to the safety rules at the top of this Craft Idea whenever you are whittling or woodworking. Conscious Craft and the author of this blog post accept no liability for damages and injury of any kind.

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