There are really three types of crafty materials in the world: Those you have lying around, those that you have to have on hand and those that are just perfect treats. This post is part of my series on homeschooling topics: One question I get is how do I find the time to do crafts with my kids? How do I get my kids to craft at all!!! I just need to say, before I get going, that in our house there is quite a distinction between arting and crafting, they are not the same thing and I am saving our art tips for another time…
To clarify, art usually takes place in a sketch book and we use the best materials that I can find. Art is part of our daily wandering through school and so deserves a post in this series. Art also involves sketching outdoors, watercolor painting and exploring techniques. Art is about learning about great painters, recognizing their work, copying their work and understanding their place in history and creating copious amounts of our own work.
Back to crafting…
Crafting might contain aspects of art but generally it is quite distinct from what we call art. Crafting is something that my children create, spurred on by an idea, an inspiration or on what we have available lying around in our house. Most of my kids crafts involve stuff reclaimed from the recycling bin and copious amounts of tape or things they have found in the great outdoors smothered in acrylic paints… painted rocks, painted leaves, painted sea-shells, painted acorns…! Once a week we craft together and create a project that we blog about, but mostly my kids craft and create independently and mountains of it doesn’t get near our blog… simply because life is for living. I have found that once a kid is inspired there is no holding them back, and a reluctant crafter is probably someone that is not that inspired… So I will write a little about inspiring young crafters as well…
When I started to write this post I realized that if I didn’t talk about materials first then I couldn’t really go on and give you a couple of tips that I have found useful for crafting with kids… So I broke it up and I am beginning with crafty materials – essentials and non-essentials…
Here you go Se7en + 1 Million Crafty Materials…
I have a friend who told me her kids didn’t craft because materials were so expensive… I haven’t found that to be the case, in fact most of our materials are simply lying around the house. There is almost never any need to buy craft materials. I used to make an annual trip to the craft store… this didn’t make us craftier – it meant a lot of materials never got finished because everyone wants to use the new shiny goodies. It also meant we had to find place for all the materials and look after them and so took time away from actual crafting. I do have certain items that I consider essential to crafting… and we pretty much always have them in stock…
“Free” Materials, That Are Just Lying Around.
Let’s start with the first type of materials… those that are just lying around:
- Crayons: Honestly these last for ages. Crayons, in fact, last forever!!! Yes a new box of crayons is just wonderful but old crayons are fine – they don’t wear out. My kids know if they wear their crayons out then they can get new ones… but my friend Katherine Marie sends us crayons from time to time and really it is more than sufficient for our needs. The first thing I do with a new box of crayons is remove the white ones and we keep this in a special place, you’ll see why down below!!!
- Scrap and Collage Papers: Lots and lots of it. Printer paper is fine for heaps and heaps of projects – ask an office working friend for scrap paper and you will never be out of it again!!! When it comes to collage papers, really anything goes – a magazine or two for pictures, stickers, x-ray films, old envelopes, colored papers, newspaper, even sand paper.
- Wood: We get ours from a local furniture store , but you can get it from any wood shop. They all have off cuts that they don’t use and we go and gather them from time to time… Where ever there is a woodworker then there is most likely a pile of scrap wood very nearby.
- Recycling: We create a heap of material for craft projects just by living: egg cartons, empty boxes, tin cans, foam trays… string bags, bottles, bottle tops…
- Fabric, Wool, buttons: You must know someone who sews and/or knits, ask them to gather up a bag of scraps.
- Food Coloring: This is my quintessential trick up my sleeve. Great for painting over crayons, great for covering large areas of paper. Great for using as watercolors and great for using with pen nibs as ink. And this is when those white crayons come to the for – for invisible art that is revealed with a splash of food coloring.
- Collage materials: We have a drawer of little goodies that we use for collaging, all the things that could go in the junk drawer go in here… left over streamers, ribbons, party favors, feathers, ancient photographs, grannies old postcard collection, couple of postage stamps and once an electrician left us an enormous jar of nuts and bolts and wires – they have lasted us for years. Basically if you can glue it or thread it we can keep it.
- Natural Materials: Head out on a nature walk… we go on seasonal walks but every Autumn we have a tradition of gathering and we go collecting for cones and seeds and leaves and sticks and we live near the beach, so shells and sea glass and driftwood… Store up your nature goodies in one spot – so that you can always find them for a project.
And the se7en + 1th thing:
Materials to Have on Hand.
After a bit of thought,I realized that I do buy some craft materials… usually once a year when I shop for school supplies then I stock up on a couple of craft materials. You will see they are not over the top, expensive materials but more like materials that are very useful without costing the earth.
- Glue Sticks: I think by now we have bought a factory of glue sticks… We actually use these for school a lot and seriously, why we haven’t bought shares in a glue stick factory I don’t know!!!
- Project Glue: I buy a large bottle once a year and when the kids need it I pop a little into a container from the recycling for them, when they are done the container just gets tossed out. Often I dilute it a little, it is easier to spread and still sticks great.
- Paints: I buy tubs of paint and transfer the paints into a small cup for any aspiring crafters. For crafting we have regular poster paints but I also get acrylic paints that stick to anything: plastic, stones, paper. There is nothing worse for a crafter than finishing the whole construction and discovering the paint won’t “stick.”
- Masking tape: Is essential for taping large bits of recycling together… somethings glue won’t do for and you just need tape.
- Clay: The real stuff, you can buy it in large bags at the craft store here. It is really not expensive and kids love it… once it dries you can paint it.
- Wire: Wire is brilliant for out door and nature crafts, I usually buy a roll a year from the hardware store. Thin wire, like florists wire, that the kids can easily bend.
- Wall Paper Paste: One packet a year is more than enough, seriously you can thin this down forever… but it is instant glue that can be used with almost all types of paper and is fabulous for paper mache and making almost endless pinatas…
- Nails: If there is wood you need nails. Say more… there are times when we go through an awful lot of them.
And the Se7en + 1th Thing:
Of course there are lovely craft materials that cost money – but they aren’t essential for your children to be creative. These are things that if someone asks what to gift my kids I will suggest:
- Markers: My kids love and adore markers. I haven’t found great markers here. Last year a reader gifted us with sharpie markers and they are still going strong and fabulous and kept for very special occasions!!! Also Crayola markers have withstood the test of time and occasionally friends send them from the States. But mostly I usually ask a granny to gift my kids with markers so that they have their own packs. Then if the lids are left off or the nibs crumpled they can not blame someone else.
- Pipe cleaners: Do I have to say anymore.
- Fabric markers or fabric paints: These are brilliant for heaps of crafts… gifting, t-shirts and whatever – they are a special treat and my kids adore them.
- Beads: We once got gifted a huge collection of beads and they just seem to go on and on. Otherwise, I hate to say it, but those sweet little toddler necklaces never last and we just add the beads to our collection.
- Felt: Say no more – it is fabulous… it is great for beginner sewers and you don’t have to sew it, you can also use craft glue with felt.
- Googly eyes: My sister is great for popping some googly eyes into gifts for the kids… and they simply bring crafts alive!!!
- Glitter: This is essential to one of my kids lives… ESSENTIAL!!! I make sure she gets gifted glitter!!!
- Play do: Actually I make this myself, or my older kids make it for their little siblings and they love it – for hours and hours and hours!!!
And the Se7en + 1th thing:
That’s it – for now. My next post: Se7en + 1 Tips for Crafting With Kids is on its way a bit later today. Meanwhile read away and enjoy and if there are any essential materials you would like to suggest then go ahead and comment…