Custom Activity Bag Craft (for Teens and Pre-Teens)

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on March 11, 2014

Looking for something to do over Spring Break with the kids?  Crafts are a go to boredom buster for the younger set–but what about that difficult pre-teen and teen age group?

Decorating Activity Bag for Spring Break

Walmart asked me as one of the Walmart Moms to share a fun spring break craft–and coming up with something was a bit of a challenge.  At almost 11 & 13 my kids aren’t exactly interested in an adorable painted suncatcher or making their own sponge boats for bathtime fun.  And while Princess would have loved to make matching Mother/Daughter anklets, Buddy wouldn’t have touched that project with a 10 foot pole!

My first idea was a homemade terrarium–there are tons of great glass containers at Walmart, I can pick up the charcoal in the pet department (fish tanks sometimes need it), decorative rocks in the home decorating aisles and soil in the garden center–but apparently I am just hitting the window where the small winter house plants were all gone and the spring ones haven’t come in.  So no luck on that (although expect to eventually see a terrarium project here on Frugal Upstate!)

I was wondering through the craft aisle of Walmart cluelessly when the fabric decorating items caught my eye.  I had so much fun making the Team USA T Shirt for the Olympics, but I didn’t want to just repeat myself and have the kids make T-shirts.  I saw some plain canvas totes and it hit me–Activity Bags!

My kids are in several weekly activities that require them to keep items together and ready to go–piano lessons, voice lessons, Boy Scouts.  We have been using a mismatched assortment of reusable shopping bags, why not let the kids design and personalize their own bags?

Materials for Personalized Activity Bags

For our bags I used a 3 pack of tote bags, some iron on letters and some “Stained by Sharpie” fabric markers.  The totes and letters were in the craft aisle at Walmart with the rest of the clothing decorating items, but the special Sharpies were over by the office supplies.  There were other fabric markers, puff paints, stick on jewels and more in the craft aisles as well.

Additionally I used some painters tape, pencils and copy paper for this project.

Iron on letters for activity bags

 First I ironed on the letters following the package directions.  Each letter is cut out, placed on the tote and ironed in place.  Then you carefully peel the plastic up.  I had a few that weren’t fully ironed down–so I just gently replaced the plastic, ran the iron over it for a few more seconds and tried again.

Then it was time for the kids to decorate!  Buddy wanted to put the Boy Scout of America crest on his bag.  We searched online for an image, printed it out and then used an old trick I learned in the Army to transfer it to the bag.  Remember “carbon paper”?  Well I didn’t have any of that–but you can make a sort of ghetto version using a good old fashioned pencil.

You simply print out your image, then flip the paper over and using the side of your pencil lead cover the area that your image is on.  For large images (like the piano I used on the piano bag) you can just scribble the lead around the edges where the line is–if you aren’t transferring anything, don’t bother filling it in!

Buddy's Scout Activity Bag how toFlip your paper back over and tape it down on your bag.  Then using a dull pencil trace over your image.  The pressure from your pencil will press just enough of the lead on the underside of the paper onto the bag to leave a faint image.  Remove the paper and then trace the faint lines with your fabric markers.

I used this same technique on the piano bag to transfer the silhouette of a piano and to transfer a musical staff.  Princess however, being the innate artist that she is, went completely freehand on her voice bag, sketching lightly in pencil first and then going over it in the fabric markers.

Princess's Voice Lesson Bag

We wound up not only with a nice craft that kept us occupied for part of an afternoon without being too “babyish”, but we also created items that are useful!  This project would also be a great birthday party craft or summer camp craft for this same difficult tween through teen age group.

Completed Activity Bag Craft for Spring Break

****This is a sponsored post****

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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