Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt

Round up the whole family for an Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt!
Round up the whole family for an Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt!

After the Easter Baskets are found and dinner is consumed, you may want to plan an activity to help burn off some of that excess sugar.  An Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt is the perfect way to get the kids focused on an activity that will get them moving and keep them occupied – at least for a little while!

Download your printable copy of the Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt here:

_______ Easter Basket

_______ Stuffed Animal

_______ Chocolate Egg

_______ Cross

_______ Easter Basket Grass

_______ Red Jelly Bean

_______ Easter Bunny

_______ Flower

_______ Lamb

_______ Plastic Easter Egg

_______ Real Easter Egg

_______ Easter Hat

_______ Baby Chick (Can be candy, toy or real)

_______ Easter Card

_______ Easter Decoration

_______ Chocolate Easter Bunny

This Year Fill Their Easter Basket with Adventure

I’ll admit it – this year, I cringed when I saw the marshmallow eggs, the generic jelly beans, and the colored fake grass start to creep on the store shelves.  Not that I don’t love a good Cadbury Egg once a year, but the thought of buying all that sugar, bringing it home, and then letting it get spread all over the house in a pile of messy grass and empty wrappers DID NOT fill me with joy.

Adventure Filled Easter Basket
Be creative and fill their basket with fun and inspiring gifts.

I know I sound like a bit of an Easter Scrooge, but I’m sure I’m not alone.  My quest was prompted in part by conversations I’ve had with other moms who are likeminded.  After all, I think there has to be something else that I can fill their basket with besides calories. My mission this year is to reduce the basket calorie count and replace some of it with a little more fun and adventure.

With adventure in mind, here are my top picks for mom approved, kid-friendly, reduced-calorie Easter Basket Gifts.

Survival Themed Easter Basket – A survival themed basket is easy to put together and is ideal for the outdoor-oriented kid.  Items to include are:

The Ultimate Readers Adventure Themed Easter Basket – If you have an avid reader in your house like I do, then this Easter Basket will keep them happy for a long time!

The Hands-On Child’s Dream Basket – When you have a “take-it-apart, see-how-it-works” kid in the house, you need productive and interesting projects to keep them occupied.  Add one or more of these items to their basket and they’ll be thrilled!

A themed adventure basket is a great idea to inspire your kids and keep the easter afternoon sugar coma at bay.

Adventure for Boys from the Original Boy Scout Leader, D.C. Beard

As parents of boys, we’ve come to understand “boy behavior” pretty well – except for when those sweet boys come home with worms in their pockets.  Although we may struggle to understand, D.C. Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts of America, understood “boy behavior” quite well.  That innate understanding has led to generations of adventurous boys becoming upstanding men.

Daniel Beard Boy Scout Founder
D.C. Beard was a 20th Century American author, illustrator, outdoorsman, and founder of the Boy Scouts of America.

D.C. Beard was an American author, illustrator, and founder of the Boy Scouts of America and its sister foundation, the Camp Fire Girls.  He knew that happy, healthy boys must explore, create, and build their way to being happy, healthy, productive men.  His ideas to foster that adventurous spirit laid the foundation for the Boy Scout’s philosophy, and those concepts are still in use today!

Daniel Carter Beard, commonly known as “Uncle Dan”, was born in 1850.  He spent most of his childhood in the hills of Kentucky where he was immersed in the Kentucky pioneer’s way of life.   He spent countless hours and days exploring the area around his home.  Because he spent so much time in the woods, he became an expert at building shelters, starting fires, gathering food, identifying edible plants, and tracking wild game.  The skills he learned as an adventurous boy he later taught to other adventure-seeking youth through the Boys Scouts of America and the Camp Fire Girls programs.

Uncle Dan became the first leader of Boy Scout Troop No. 1, and under his leadership, those first lucky Boy Scouts flourished.  Unfortunately, Uncle Dan passed away in 1941, but his lessons and quest for adventure carry on in the books he authored and illustrated.   His most famous trio of books, the The American Boy’s Handy Book Series, is still used by Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, and adventurous souls everywhere.

The first book, The American Boy’s Handy Book:  What to Do and How to Do It, is full of fun games and fascinating projects.  It is broken down into four sections based on the seasons, and each section is full of answers to the question, “What is there for me to do today?”  This book gives detailed instructions on how to make kites, fishing tackle, telescopes, boats, tents, traps, snow forts and more!  It is the ideal counter balance to today’s couch-potato lifestyle.

DC Beard Handy Book Series
The Handy Book Series of books by D.C. Beard will encourage an adventurous spirit in your boys.

The second book in the series, The Book of Camp-Lore and Wood Craft will keep any kid occupied, regardless of the weather.  This book is full of ideas for both indoor and outdoor activities.  It contains complete instructions for building a backyard clubhouse, setting up a workshop, creating backyard games, and many other diversions.  Uncle Dan knew that if boys stayed busy, they’d also stay out of trouble!

The third book in this series is The Field and Forest Handy Book:  New Ideas for Out of Doors, and it is all about living and surviving in the wild.  There is practical instruction on how to build shelters, pack a horse, make clothes, build boats, construct a sled, and cook over a campfire.  To this day, survivalists rely on the timeless advice offered in this book.

In our never-ending quest to understand and encourage boys of all ages, we rate the American Boy’s Handy Book Series at the top of our “Good Books for Boys” list, and we think you will too!

Creeping, Crawling, Slinking Bug Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Hot summer days can often be lazy summer days, and if you are not careful, they can turn into boring summer days.  Sometimes, we have to be a little creative and plan an activity, and adventure, or a fun game to get those kids up and moving.  Now that the novelty of “No School” has worn off, adventurous boys may migrate back into the house and towards their electronics.  A summer scavenger hunt for kids is a good way to get your boys out of the house on a nice summer day and away from their electronic devices.   Now if we make that scavenger hunt a “Creeping, Crawling, Slinking Bugs Galore!” Scavenger Hunt – they’ll rush out the door faster than you can say “BEETLE”!

There are a couple of ways you can approach this type of scavenger hunt, and it will depend on your child’s age and comfort level.  For the insects listed, your kids can check them off of the list in one of three ways:

  • Check It – After they see an insect, they can simply check if off of their list.  This way there is NO touching of any creepy-crawly creatures.
  • Snap It – When they find an insect on the list, they can snap a picture of it.  Again, this way involves no touching or capturing of insects.
  • Capture It – This way, your hunters can actually catch their prey temporarily, and release them after they take a moment to closely observe their find.  (If you’re boys are really into capturing bugs, see below for a simple guide to the best bug catching equipment for boys.)
NOTE:  Please advise your bug hunters to be wary of stinging insects.  We recommend that they do NOT try to catch bees, wasps, hornets, or any other venomous insect.  

Creeping, Crawling, Slinking Bugs Galore Scavenger Hunt

Download your printable Creepy Crawly Bug Scavenger Hunt List here.

Find an Ant in this bug scavenger hunt!
Keep them occupied by having them find creepy-crawly critters.

____________        A fly

____________        A mosquito

____________        A grasshopper

____________        A june bug

____________        A cricket

____________        An ant

____________        A butterfly

____________        A moth

____________        A black spider

____________        A brown, white, or tan spider

____________        An insect with two wings

____________        A caterpillar

____________        An insect with four wings

____________        A centipede

____________        A slug

____________        An earthworm

____________        A grub

____________        An insect with hair

____________        A beetle

____________        A ladybug

____________        An insect with bright colors (red, yellow, green, blue)

The Bug Book and Bug Bottle
The Bug Book and Bug Bottle is perfect for identifying, catching, and safely releasing bugs back into the wild.

JM Cremps has some of the best bug catchers and bug-catching equipment for kids.  Some of our favorites are the BugView Magnifier that allows your kids to get a close-up view of even the smallest of creatures.  It is easy to use, is kid friendly, and has 5X magnification.  Another favorite is a basic butterfly net.  It makes simple work of catching the insects that fly and will keep your troops occupied for hours!  Best of all, at less than $7, it makes the perfect birthday gift for any adventurous boy.

The Bug Book and Bug Bottle Bug Catcher is the perfect tool for your budding bug catchers.  The ingeniously designed plastic bottle is perfect for catching and viewing bugs and then releasing them unharmed.  It’s a bug catcher with a conscience!   The book that comes with the bottle has detailed information on 46 of the US’s most popular insects so your kids can easily identify their catch and learn to properly care for them.

If your family enjoyed this activity, please take a moment to rate this post below.  Your feedback and comments help us to make sure that we always deliver a top-notch experience to our Cremps Kids!

“Spy Games for Kids” – How to Break a Secret Code

For thousands of years Kings, Queens, Emperors, and their spies have been writing their important communications in code.  In the days before telephones, emails, and text messages, it was the only way of keeping important messages private.  Napoleon’s spies were excellent code writers AND code breakers.  George Washington sent messages to his many secret agents in code.  In 1586, Mary, Queen of Scots, was caught and punished for attempting to overthrow the English Queen, Elizabeth I, after her secret correspondence was intercepted and decoded by an English spy.  Julius Caesar, emperor of Rome, encrypted all of his important military messages with a code that is known to this day as a Caesar Code.

The coded letter and the cipher that brought down Mary, Queen of Scots in 1586
The encoded letter and the cipher that brought down Mary, Queen of Scots in 1586. (File courtesy of the National Archives – United Kingdom)

The process of writing a message in a code is called “encrypting”.  Decoding the message so that it is readable again is called “decrypting”.  In order for you to encrypt the message and for someone else to decrypt the message, you both need to use the same code.  That code is called a “cipher”.  There are many types of ciphers you can use, but we’ll start with a Caesar Cipher, which is a simple substitution cipher that uses the alphabet.

A substitution cipher means that we are substituting one letter for another.  It’s really quite simple.  Here’s how to do it!

Write down the letters A through M in a neat row.

Then, directly below the line of letters you just wrote, write the letters N through Z, making sure that you line up each letter below the one above.  For example, the N must be right underneath the A, the O under the B, the P under the C, and so on.

Your cipher will look like this:

Caesar Code - Cipher Code
Carefully write out your cipher.

Then, when you code a message, you will substitute the correct letter in your word for the letter above or below it in the code.  Using the code above, the word HELLO would be encoded to URYYB.  The word SPY would be encoded to FCL.

A Caesar Cipher is a simple substitution code
Use your Caesar Cipher to encode your messages.

Can you decode this word?  FRPEGT

Now comes the fun part!  It’s time to create your own message.  Simply write out your message on a piece of paper.  Using the code you made, substitute your letters for the code letters.  When you pass your coded message to the person who is supposed to read it, then you have to make sure you tell them how to write out the cipher so that they can decode your message.  But be careful – don’t let anyone else know the cipher!

Want a bigger challenge?  Then check out the CIA’s website for spy kids.  There are many great cipher or secret code challenges that will test your ability as a code breaker.  Our Spy Science Secret Message Kit has several ways for you to encode your messages.  From Secret x-ray paper, to morse code, and to invisible ink – you’ll have plenty of fun choices for your next secret message.

The book, Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writings starts with a simple substitution cipher and builds to more complex codes so that you can understand exactly how it’s done.  There are practice messages included so that you can practice your newly acquired skills.  Now that you know the basics, you can try your hand at creating your very own code.  You can use numbers, pictures, symbols, shapes, and letters.  Remember though, make sure to:  Xrrc lbhe pbqr n frperg!

Encourage a Curious Mind with this Simple Kids Science Experiment at Home

Why is the sky blue? What makes a wheel turn? How do airplanes fly?  These questions show a kid’s natural curiosity of the world around them. Science is an excellent tool to help kids strategically find the answers to their many questions. Here at JM Cremp’s, we specialize in developing the adventurous and inquisitive minds of children. We highly recommend these great science kits for kids and simple science projects to encourage the learning process.

Science experiments don’t have to be complicated or expensive. This simple science project for kids uses materials that are found in most kitchens and can be completed in a few minutes. It is easy and safe, so it is perfect for kids of all ages.  So call in the little mad scientists and let’s get started.

The 3 Layer Float

Have you ever wondered why wood floats and rocks sink? The answer is density. Density is simply the measurement of how solid something is. This experiment will show the different density of 3 substances and 3 objects.

Materials for Kids Science Project
Materials for Kids Science Project

Gather Your Materials:

  • Oil
  • Water
  • Honey
  • Grape
  • Coin
  • Cork
  • Tall Clear Cup

Note: Corn syrup will work as a substitute for honey. Don’t have a cork handy? Try a small piece of wood or a leaf instead.

Procedure for kids science experiment at home
Procedure for kids science experiment.

Begin the Science Experiment Procedure:

1.    Fill 1/3 of the tall clear cup with honey.
2.    Fill the next third with oil.
3.    Fill the last third with water.
4.    Wait a minute and let all three substances settle.
5.    Carefully drop in the coin, then the grape and then the cork.

Results for science project for kids
Results for kids science project.

Results and Observations:

Answer these questions as you make your observations:

1.    What layer is the water?
2.    What substance settled on top?
3.    What happened to the coin?
4.    What happened to the grape?
5.    What happened to the cork?

Now that you have made your observations it’s time to determine the results. Discuss these questions to reach a conclusion:
1.    What substance has the highest density? (bottom liquid)
2.    What substance has the lowest density? (top liquid)
3.    What object has a higher density than honey?
4.    What objects have a higher density than water?
5.    What object has the lowest density?

For a little extra fun, stir the contents of the glass and watch what happens!
Download printable kids science project here.

We think the words learning and fun should always be in the same sentence. From mechanical science to chemistry, kids science activities are a great way to keep the fun in learning.  If you are a homeschooling family, this is a great family science experiment since you can involve both younger and older students.

JM Cremps ‘Adventure for Boys’ Retail Store Opens in Minnesota!

JM Cremp’s Adventure Store, the Only Online Retailer Focusing Exclusively on Fun Adventure Products for Boys, Opens its 1st Retail Store in Dassel, MN

Online sales growth results in retail store opening

JM Cremps Adventure for Boys Retail Store Opens Labor Day weekend
JM Cremps opens its first retail outlet in Dassel, MN.

Dassel, MN – JM Cremp’s Boys Adventure Store, the only online retailer focusing exclusively on adventurous boyhood, announces the grand opening of its first destination retail store in Dassel, MN. Located in the former train depot at 651 Parker Avenue West, the store will feature the same great products, gear and activities for boys that have made the online site a success. The grand opening of the store will take place over the extended Labor Day weekend 2012, Friday, August 31- Monday, September 3.

JM Cremp’s Boys Adventure Store is home to thousands of carefully selected items designed to foster the spirit of an adventurous boyhood—from toys and games, outdoor gear, books, and so much more. In a world inundated with electronic games and gadgets electronic games and gadgets, JM Cremp’s promotes an old-fashioned American boyhood experience reminiscent of days gone by. In fact, parents love that they won’t find a video game in the store. JM Cremp’s highly trained adventure team is ready to help customers gather the best products for boys all under one roof. “The retail store is just another way for us to help bring adventure to the lives of our customers. A place where families can come to find the unique products and gear that will help ignite their child’s imagination—all in a unique, spacious and creatively designed retail environment” said Jay Asplin, owner.

The Adventure Store for Boys has opened its first retail store.
Finally! A store built for boys! It’s an adventure-lovers dream come true.

About JM Cremp’s Adventure for Boys Store

JM Cremp’s online retail store launched in October of 2010. The company was started by Jay and Maria Asplin, and their five boys in their hometown of Dassel, MN. JM Cremp’s attributes their success to their unique selection of quality products and unmatched customer service. See JM Cremp’s complete selection of unique ‘adventure for boys’ products and gear at www.jmcremps.com, and if you are looking for fun, imaginative, and healthy activities for boys, their new Adventure for Boys Blog is the website you can rely on. It’s packed with activities, stories, and projects that will keep them engaged for hours. When it comes to boys – JM Cremp’s is your complete “Adventure for Boys” resource!

Grand Opening Hours:
Fri 8/31: 9 am-7 pm
Sat 9/1: 9 am-7 pm
Sun 9/2: Noon-5 pm
Mon 9/3: 9 am-7 pm

Regular Hours
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 11am-7pm
Saturday 9am-5pm

JM Cremp’s
651 Parker Ave West
Dassel, MN 55325
Call: 1-877-469-0673
info@jmcremps.com (Customer Service)

Getting To Dassel:
Located 50 minutes west of the twin cities metro area and 45 minutes south of St. Cloud, off of highway 12 (in the Old Train Depot).

How to Build a Tool Box – The Perfect Father and Son Activity and Woodworking Project for Kids

Okay boys, how many times have you heard this question in your house when Dad is trying to fix something, “Where are my tools when I need them?”  UH-OH! You quickly try remembering if you borrowed them to work on the fort, or if you left them by that birdhouse you were making.  Sometimes, it’s hard to remember where all those tools belong in the first place.

How to Build a Tool Box
A simple woodworking project to build great memories for father and son.

Attention Dads: While you’re outside searching for those tools, try out this great father and son activity, and help your son build his own tool box for kids. Woodworking projects are a great way to teach the basic skills of planning, measuring and proper tool use to your children.  Let them get creative and you’ll be surprised at what your little carpenters can build. Hands on projects are a great platform to instill important values and teach life lessons to your son. At JM Cremps we understand the amazing imagination of kids and the importance of quality father son bonding time.  Nurture them both with these great resources for kids crafts and woodworking projects, kids tool sets and ideas for father and son activities.

STEP 1 – Find Your Woodworking Tools

Tools – Quality tools are a must to make any woodworking project a masterpiece. Tired of searching for your tools Dad? Check out this Kids 9-Piece Tool Kit. These are fully functional, metal tools just like Dad’s, but they are made for smaller hands.

STEP 2 – Gather Supplies and Cut Your Wood

1 – 13 1/2″ X 5″ length of 1/2″ plywood for bottom
2 – 14 1/2″ X 2 1/2″ lengths of 3/8″ or 1/2″ plywood for sides
2 – 6″ X 5″ lengths of 1/2″ plywood for ends
1 – 14 1/2″ length of 3/4″ dowel
14 – #6 X 1 1/4″ flat head wood screws

STEP 3 – Let the Building Begin!

First complete the ends of the toolbox following the drawing below. Be sure to drill the holes for the handle first and then trim the tops.

How to Build a Tool Box Measurements
Measurements for end pieces of the toolbox.

Next, insert the dowel into the holes in the end pieces. Then with # 6 X 1 1/4″ screws and glue, fasten the two ends to the bottom piece as shown:

Tool Box for Kids Diagram
Bottom and side diagram of tool box for kids.

Now it’s time to fasten the two side pieces to the ends with # 6 X 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Slide the dowel out until it almost comes through one end, apply a small amount glue to the exposed end of the dowel, and to the cavity in the opposite end, slide the dowel back in to position. Finally, drill a pilot hole from the top down into the dowel and insert a #6 X 1 1/4″ screw at each end to keep the handle securely in place.  It’s time for the fun part; make this toolbox a masterpiece. Grab some paint and get creative.

Download printable kids tool box instructions here.

Mission #3 – Operation Field Dinner – Kids Camping Recipes

Army Kids Campfire Cooking - True Adventure for Boys!
A campfire is a fun way to end an adventurous day.

Every soldier knows how important a campfire is for survival, but it is equally important for morale. After a long day of marching with a heavy pack through rough terrain, a warm, crackling campfire is like an old friend.  When you’re hungry, and the mess hall is far behind, that same campfire is your ticket to a full belly.  If you’re tired of eating hot dogs and marshmallows around every fire, you’re in luck – JM Cremps has some simple and delicious ideas for your next campfire meal.  (And you can leave the hot dogs behind!)  Check out these kids camping recipes:

Egg Platoon

– Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray OR rub the inside of each muffin cup with butter.  Crack one egg into each cup.  Top with cheese, meat, or vegetables.  Put the muffin tin on a grate above the campfire.  Bake until the eggs are set (about 10 to 15 minutes).  You can also make toast to go with these awesome eggs.  Just lay a piece of bread on the grate next to the muffin tin.  After one minute, flip the bread.  Keep flipping until your toast is just the way you like it!

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Private First Class Field Dinner

Army Kids Private First Class Field Dinner
The Private First Class Field Dinner is ready to put on the fire.

What you’ll need:

  • Tinfoil
  • Cooking Spray
  • Ground Beef (or turkey)
  • Diced Potatoes
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Diced Onions
  • Salt & Pepper & Garlic (or your favorite seasoned salt)
  • Butter
  • Optional Vegetables of your choice
  • Ketchup (optional)

This recipe is such a favorite in our family, that it’s been cooked around the campfire (and on the grill) for five generations now!  Best of all it is easy, nutritious, and fun to make.  Each person can make their own dinner just the way the want it, and just the size they want it too.  Plus, it’s the perfect way for little brothers and sisters to get involved in the fun.

Cut a 12 inch section of tin foil and spray one side with cooking spray.  Place about a handful of potatoes, a ½ handful of onions, and a ½ handful of shredded carrots.  If you want to, you can add another handful of any type of vegetable you’d like.  Some of our favorites are mushrooms and sweet potatoes. (Yes Sweet Potatoes!)  Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, and a little garlic (Or use seasoned salt.)  Top with a tablespoon of butter.

On top of the vegetables place a hand-sized portion of ground beef.  Season the ground beef with additional salt, pepper, garlic OR seasoned salt.    Lift the ends of the tinfoil up until the meet in the middle.  Roll up the ends to form a pouch and seal the contents inside. (It kind of looks like a pastry.) Cut another piece of tinfoil slightly larger than the first one, and double wrap your dinner.  This will prevent it from being punctured.

Place your First Class Field Dinner on a grate over the campfire or place it in an empty coffee can in the embers.  Cook it for 30 to 60 minutes or until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are tender.  To see if your dinner is ready, carefully remove your tinfoil pouch from the fire using tongs or spatulas.  VERY carefully open the sealed tinfoil using a fork so that you can allow the steam to escape without burning your fingers.  Test the softness of the potatoes and carrots.  When they are nice and soft, you’re ready to dig in!

Serve with ketchup for the ultimate Private First Class experience!

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Peach Grenades

After a dinner like the one above, it’s time for some real army kids dessert!  How about some peach grenades?  They sure beat canned peach rations any day!

What you need:

  • Peaches or nectarines
  • Marshmallows
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar

What you do:

Cut each peach in half and remove the pit.  Place a marshmallow in the spot where the pit was on one half and leave the other half alone.  Sprinkle both halves with sugar and cinnamon.  Put the peach back together and bake it until the peach is softened.  About 25 minutes.  Test it by poking a toothpick into it.

You can do the same thing to apples, but instead of putting a marshmallow in the middle, put a couple of caramels instead.  YUM!!!

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JM Cremps has plenty of army gear (link) for kids to make cooking in the field a lot easier. For example, our 6-in-1 Chowset Tool is the perfect cooking companion.  It’s got a knife for cutting up vegetables and meat, a fork & spoon for eating, and extra tools for cooking.  Our Carabiner Mug (link) is easy to carry and clips on to your backpack or belt.  It’s perfect for both hot and cold drinks.  So bring on the hot chocolate!

Serious campers and soldiers who spend a lot of time in the field prefer to carry a lightweight, portable meal kit in their pack.  Our Outdoor Meal Kit is that and more.  It has two plates (one that doubles as a bowl), a spill-free cup, a colander/cutting board, a fork/spoon combo, and a small waterproof box.  You can’t go wrong with this one!

The Outdoor Meal Kit is perfect for dinner in the field
The Outdoor Meal Kit is perfect for dinner in the field!

Before you head out to build your own campfire, we can’t leave you without reminding you to be safe.  Here’s some simple safety rules all soldiers and army kids must follow:

  1. NEVER start a fire without adult supervision.
  2. NEVER leave a fire unattended.
  3. NO running or horseplay around the fire.
  4. Make sure you use the proper cooking utensils so you don’t cut or burn yourself.
  5. DO have a bucket of water near the fire incase embers or ashes get out of control.

Wood Whittling – A Treasured Past Time and a Perfect Project for Kids

Adventurous kids tend to also be talented, artistic kids, who enjoy creating things and working with their hands.  That’s why wood whittling is not only a pleasant past time for many, but it has spanned generations.  It’s the type of activity that grandpas have taught their grandkids while spending a quiet evening on the front porch.  JM Cremps is big into families, tradition, and creativity, and that’s why we are happy to be a resource for whittling basics, wood carving sets, whittling kits, and whittling projects.

Wood Whittling - Whittling Projects for Kids is a fun hobby.
Wood Whittling is a past time enjoyed by many generations, and it is the perfect project for kids.

If you are new to wood whittling, there are a few basic principles that will make sure you start with good technique and safe practices.

STEP 1 – Gather Your Wood Whittling Tools and Supplies:

Knife – A good quality, sharp knife is essential to wood whittling.  A pocket knife works well, but to make learning easier and your carving more precise, we recommend the Beginner Palm & Knife Set.  This kit contains the most popular and useful tools and knives every whittler needs.  They are high quality and priced reasonably.  This whittling kit contains a cutting knife, detail knife, v-tool, and gouge.  Remember, the key to proper whittling is a sharp knife, so when the time comes, it is a good idea to ask an adult to help you learn proper sharpening techniques.

Thumb Guard – A good carving thumb guard is an important safety measure all beginning whittlers should use.  It is made of cut-resistant leather and will prevent most accidental cuts while you are learning.  Plus, it will help mom and dad to relax since they know you will be protected.  Thumb guards are inexpensive and can be found at many craft stores.  JM Cremps carries a good carving thumb guard designed especially for kids, and it comes in three sizes.

 Wood – While you can use any type of wood, there are woods that are easier to work with and whittle better than others – especially for a beginner.  Soft woods like basswood are easy, have small grain, and are easy to find.  (Don’t attempt to whittle hardwoods until you are very experienced.)  You can buy convenient wood whittling block sets designed specifically for whittling projects, and JM Cremps carries many of them.  These sets are inexpensive and are already cut to size for your whittling projects.  Some even come with several whittling ideas and patterns to make your first few projects fun and easy.  For example, the Basswood Forest Animals Starter Blocks Set Whittling Kit lets you create several fun animal creations, while the standard Basswood Wood Carving Blocks Set Whittling Kit contains a good assortment of basswood just waiting for you to be as creative as possible.

STEP 2 – Getting Ready to Carve

Before you begin carving your wood, you must first determine the grain (the growth patterns in the wood). When you are carving in the same direction as the grain, you are carving with the grain. When you are carving opposite the direction of the grain, you are carving against the grain.  This is important, so if you don’t understand “grain” ask an adult to clarify it for you.

It is important to hold your wood block and whittling knife properly.  If you are right-handed, your left hand will hold the piece of wood and your right hand will hold the knife. Put your LEFT thumb on the back of the blade and the blade against the wood at slight angle to the block. Your LEFT thumb will push the blade forward and your right hand will guide the blade along the wood.  Never push the blade forward with your right hand because you will not be able to control the blade.

Remember to keep all of your fingers out of the path of the blade!

STEP 3 – Carve!

Now you are ready to begin carving!  Once you have your knife and wood block in the right position, begin by pushing the blade with your left finger and guiding the blade in a scooping motion.  Don’t push too hard.  The knife has to dig into the surface only a little bit and then angle back up to come out of the wood.  If you do this right, you will have created a wood shaving that isn’t too thick.  Most shavings that are done correctly will curl.  You can check to see if your shavings curl to know that you are doing it correctly.  If you whittle away thin shavings, you will be able to be more precise and smooth.  If you go too deep, your knife might get stuck.  If this happens, back it out and try again, but this time don’t go as deep.

Take your time and have fun.  Before you know it, you’ll have your own creations that you can give as gifts or even sell to make some money.  Expert whittler and the author of many books on whittling, Chris Lubkemann, put himself through college by whittling and selling his creations!  Chris is the author of the book, Big Book of Whittle Fun, which contains 31 whittling projects, basic and advanced instructions, helpful pictures, and it even teaches you how to sharpen your knife.

Here is a perfect Beginners Whittling Project to get you started and to provide perfect practice for your technique.   It is also a perfect way to strengthen your hand and to learn about the grain of the wood.  (To see a more advanced woodworking project, check out our detailed instructions on How to Build a Tool Box.)

The Wooden Egg

    1. Choose a block of wood that has the grain running through the length of the block.
Whittling Projects - The Wooden Egg
The Wooden Egg is a perfect whittling project for someone new to wood whittling.
  • Lay the block on a table with the long side down.
  • On the side that is facing up, divide the block into thirds running across the grain.  Mark each third with a small pencil dot.
  • Draw a dark line (with a pencil) across the block on the bottom one-third mark and the top one-third mark.
  • Repeat that for all four sides.
  • Now you should have a line that goes all the way around the block one-third of the way up the blocks surface on each end.
  • Choose one end to be the “fat” end of your egg.  The line on that end is your starting line and will always be the thickest part of your egg.
  • On the fat end, slice off the corners of your egg by starting your cuts on your pencil line and finishing at the end of the block.  Keep turning the block as you go until the bottom end is rounded and the corners are gone.
  • Flip the block, and do the same on the other end, but this time you will need to cut more off of each corner since this the narrow end or the top of your egg.
  • Continue working and rounding by slicing then rotating your egg until all four corners are gone and the egg begins to take shape.
  • After you have the basic ends shaped, you can work on connecting them through the middle of the egg.  Remember to slice WITH the grain.
  • As your egg nears completion, go back to the ends and make finer cuts to smooth the surface.
  • If you would like you can sand your egg, spray it, paint it, or carve your name in it.  Be creative!

Are you a homeschooling family?  If so, wood working and wood whittling are great hands-on activities to add to your homeschool curriculum.  This traditional activity encourages creativity and will give your students a sense of pride and accomplishment when they have finished their project.