Health & Family

Family-friendly crafts and games for the July 4 weekend

A steady hand leads to success in this carnival-inspired challenge, in which players try to set a bottle upright using a ring on a string.
A steady hand leads to success in this carnival-inspired challenge, in which players try to set a bottle upright using a ring on a string. TNS

United We Stand game

A steady hand leads to success in this carnival-inspired challenge in which players try to set a bottle upright using a ring on a string.

Use red and blue decorative tape to embellish two 18-inch wooden dowels (we cut a 3-foot dowel in half), two cleaned and dried plastic bottles (we used 12-ounce soda bottles) and both rings of a 3-inch embroidery hoop (we bought ours at a craft store for $2.50). Use one color for each 3-piece set. Tie each hoop to its matching dowel with a 28-inch length of string. Place 1/2 cup rice in each of two zip-close bags. Add 12 drops red food coloring to one, blue to the other.

Seal each bag and shake until the rice is evenly tinted. Snip off a corner of each bag and funnel the rice into its matching bottle. Screw on the caps.

To play: Mark spaces on a flat playing surface with child-size hula hoops or use chalk to draw two 24-inch circles. Lay a bottle in the center of each. At “Go,” players use their rods to right their bottles. If a player’s bottle rolls out of the circle, he must retrieve it and start over. The first to stand his bottle up wins.

Mini Marching Drum

Join the big parade or stomp around the backyard to the beat of this recycled coffee can.

Drum: Trace a 10 1/2-inch circle on a Tyvek sheet (we used a mailing envelope) and cut it out. Lay the circle over the open end of a 27.8-ounce coffee can. Secure it about 2 inches from the rim with rubber bands. Pull the Tyvek taut and trim the excess. Use strips of clear tape to hold the Tyvek in place and remove the rubber bands.

Cover the edges of the Tyvek with colored duct tape, using a single strip around the perimeter of the can. Use more duct tape to embellish the rest of the can. Measure and cut a length of ribbon for the neck strap and knot its ends. Tape the ribbon ends (just above the knots) to the side of the drum.

Mallet: Cut the neck from a 12-inch balloon. Stuff the remaining piece with half a paper towel sheet. Squeeze a bit of white glue into the balloon and insert the tapered end of a chopstick. Secure it with a strip of duct tape and let it dry.

Straw-Spangled Wreath

Our downloadable template and simple technique make it easy to create a few of these fireworks-like decorations. Print our template for the center (from on card stock. Cut out the circle, then trace it twice on corrugated cardboard. Cut out both circles. Make several rings of tacky glue on one cardboard circle and attach striped paper straws, alternating red and blue and leaving 2 inches of space in the center.

Thread a 1-inch straw piece onto a long length of fishing line or string and knot the ends. Attach the straw piece with tacky glue to the center of the cardboard circle. Add rings of glue over the straws and gently press on the other cardboard circle. Let the glue dry. With a glue stick, attach the card stock center. Trim the straws to different lengths. Hang with the fishing line.

Sweet and Salty Sparklers

Layered with white chocolate and studded with sprinkles and M&Ms, our pretzel treats add flair – or flare – to any party spread. Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt 1 cup white chocolate chips in a medium, heat-safe bowl according to the package directions. Use a spoon to drizzle a pretzel rod one at a time with chocolate (you’ll have enough chocolate to make a dozen), then lay the rod on the prepared sheet and scatter it with red and blue sprinkles and M&Ms. Chill the pretzels in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.

Red, White and Cool Cubes

Tricolored spritzers offer a refreshing way to celebrate the Fourth. Make several trays of ice cubes with beverages colored red, white and blue (we used cranberry juice, water and Powerade Mountain Berry Blast). To serve, place the cubes in separate buckets and let guests make their own drinks with plain seltzer.

Air Mail Ballots

The votes are in, and this simple flying disk game is a runaway winner. Cut a 5-by-13-inch rectangle into a cardboard box as shown (an adult’s job). You’ll want a box that’s at least 18-by-18-by-24-inches. Cut another rectangle on the opposite side of the box for retrieving the flying disks. Seal the box with tape, then attach card stock and scrapbook paper decorations with glue dots.

To play, designate a throwing line and give each participant three tries to toss a heavy duty plastic plate or flying disk into the slot. The first player to score an agreed-upon number wins.