Make-and-Learn Crafts: Mother's Day Keepsake Box

Filed under: Holidays, Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids, Activities: Tweens

Little fingers shape air-dry clay into a trinket box for mom's special day. Photo: Gina Provenzano

Is one day really enough time to truly take note of the kind and loving gestures our mothers make every day?

Of course not. But it's a start.

Kids may not truly appreciate all that their moms do for them, but little ones do know one thing: They love their moms unconditionally.

Let them express that love with a keepsake box to be treasured. Like the stick figure drawings stuck to the fridge, this can be displayed for all to see, and then later tucked away for a lifetime of memories.

Made from air-dry clay, the box is easy enough for young children to craft, while older kids can it embellish it further by making a lid and filling it with coupons and messages of love for mom to uncover all year long.

What you'll need:

  • Air-dry clay, Crayola's tub is 2.5 pounds and plenty for this and other projects
  • Rolling pin
  • Ruler
  • Butter knife
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Water-based gloss varnish
  • Colored paper (optional)
  • Decorative edge scissors (optional)
  • Pen (optional)


1. Roll the clay. Grab two fistfuls of clay. Squish and knead them together with hands to make one ball. On a smooth, well-protected surface, roll dough out with rolling pin.

Note: Teach kids how to roll in different directions, like a pizza, in order to expand the shape evenly.

Roll to about one-eighth inch to one-quarter inch thickness, and so the dough measures about 6 inches by 5 inches. If there is not enough, add more clay and start over.

2. Measure and shape box. Use the ruler and the knife to measure and cut a 5-inch by 4-inch rectangle from the clay. It doesn't need to be perfect. Now measure one-half inch around all sides of the rectangle. Fold the one-half inch edges up to form a 4-inch by 3-inch box. Pinch the excess clay at the corners and fold in or snip off. Use fingers to smooth clay around corners, along the rim and where the sides and the bottom meet.

3. Make heart. Grab a small amount of clay. Squish and knead it together as before. Roll out the piece to be about 1/4" to 1/2" thick. Use knife or fingers to cut and mold clay into a heart shape. Place the heart shape inside the box in the center and gently push it down to adhere to box.

4. Decorate box. If your child has a steady enough hand, have him or her etch the words "I LOVE U" with the tip of a pencil in the heart shape. Let the box dry thoroughly -- overnight or longer depending upon humidity.

When the box is completely dry, paint it as desired. Try mixing up the colors. Let paint dry thoroughly. Brush with varnish and let dry.

For Older Kids:

Make a lid. Grab another fistful of clay. Squish and knead it together as before. Roll out the piece to be about one-eighth inch to one-quarter inch thickness. Measure the actual length and width of the rim of the box. Add one-half inch to both measurements.

Note: Help children add and subtract by showing them the fractions on the ruler.

Cut a rectangle to this size using the ruler and the knife. Roll the scraps into a ball and flatten again with the rolling pin to make another piece about the same thickness.

Now, measure the inside of the box, both length and width. Subtract one-half inch from each number. Cut a rectangle to this size using the ruler and the knife. Center the smaller rectangle on top of the larger one and gently press them together.

Flip the lid to the other side and etch the words, "Happy Mother's Day" on the top of the larger rectangle with the tip of the pencil. Allow the lid to dry thoroughly as before.

Decorate the lid. Paint the lid and lettering as desired. Varnish as before.

Add your wishes. Cut small strips of paper with decorative edged scissors. Write promises, simple messages or other sweet sayings on the strips. When the box is finished, fold messages and place inside before giving to mom.

Enjoy the day!

Related: Mother's Day - Good, Bad and Very Ugly

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.