No childhood game of cops and robbers is complete without a set of play handcuffs, but the real deal can get kids into some tricky situations, especially if the key goes missing. Instead of investing in a potentially risky set of real handcuffs, invite kids to make their own handcuffs in creative homemade handcuff crafts. A few simple household items can be transformed into play handcuffs for kids' games and activities.
Turn a craft project into a lesson on reusing materials by turning sections of cardboard tubing into festive handcuffs. Collect a variety of cardboard tubes from old toilet paper tubes, paper towels or shipping tubes. Most standard-sized tubes will be too small for children's hands; instead, cut down the length of two tubes and glue each half together to make a wider cuff. Cut the tubes so that they are about three inches wide. Provide each child two tubes and a variety of craft decorating supplies including feathers, glitter, markers, paint and glue. After the cuffs have dried, piece a hole through the center edge of each cuff with a pen or knitting needle. Slide a piece of thick yarn through the holes and knot the ends so that the knot will prevent the yarn from pulling back through the hole.
Adhesive velcro can be transformed into safe, kid-friendly handcuffs. Create a backing material for the velcro by cutting two strips of stiff paper or heavy fabric long enough to wrap around the child's wrists with some extra space. Lay a strip of adhesive velcro three quarters of the way down the length of one side of the fabric. On the remaining quarter, adhere the corresponding section of soft velcro that bonds with the material to create a seal. After creating the two cuffs, braid three sections of matching fabric to serve as a center cord; sew the ends of the cord to the middle of the cuffs to create the link.
Simple sections of recycled newspaper can be fashioned into children's handcuffs. To create a rolled paper set of handcuffs, fold a single sheet of newspaper in half and cut three one inch-wide strips from the length of the newspaper. Roll each strip tightly around a marker or large pen; use glue or rubber cement to seal the edges so that the roll remains tight. Make several more rolls in the same fashion until you have enough so that, when placed together, they would create two cuffs large enough to slip over the child's wrists. To connect the rolls to make a bracelet cuff, thread one roll onto the center of a long piece of elastic thread. Cross the ends of the thread so that they form an X; pull the slack but not so tightly that the paper roll bends in half. Slide each end of the elastic through a second roll and pull the elastic tight. The two rolls should be pressed together on their flat edges. Cross the elastic again and thread the next roll in the same way. Repeat threading until you have enough rolls lined up to fit around a child's wrist. Pull the elastic tight and tie a knot before cutting off the excess elastic. Glue the two end rolls together to form a circular cuff. Repeat these steps to create a second bracelet. To attach the two cuffs, thread a piece of elastic between the two cuffs. Tie the elastic in a knot to create a pliable loop.