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I’ve already talked about the importance of taking time to create for yourself, but it’s just as important — maybe even more so — for your kids to have access to tools to express their creativity as well.
Making things is a great way for kids to develop their motor and problem-solving skills, to learn through experimentation, to express their feelings and a lot more. And it’s just fun for them to create and for you to make stuff with them or alongside them.
The good news is you don’t need a lot of supplies or space to get more creativity into your home. In fact, in my experience there are just a half dozen things that I would always have on hand that can be used for a huge variety of projects. And you can buy nearly all of them at a dollar or discount store, or buy really high-quality, high-dollar supplies if you’d rather.
Of course before you have any other supplies you need something to put marks, paint or stickers on, and that’s paper. You can start with simple white paper out of your printer, but soon you’ll want colored construction paper, paper of different sizes (including large construction paper and easel-sized paper) and possibly some specialty papers for particular projects (tracing paper, watercolor paper, etc.).
If your kid likes collage you might also want to start collecting junk mail, old magazines and the little scraps of paper left over from other projects for that purpose.
2. Drawing Supplies
Start with a pack each of crayons (as big as you like) and markers. We have lots and lots of crayons and markers, as well as colored pencils, pastel crayons and some novelty supplies like crayon rocks, twisty crayons, markers where you can mix the colors, and multicolored markers, crayons and colored pencils, but the real essentials are a good variety of crayons and markers.
Those are both things you can get at the dollar store, by the way. I also found 24 packs of crayons at Target after back-to-school time for less than a dollar, so it’s easy to keep a lot on hand and replenish when lost, broken or used up.
3. Paint and Brushes
All you really need to get started is red, yellow and blue, of course. It’s great to have black and white, too. If money and space aren’t an issue, go ahead and get all the colors of the rainbow and throw in brown, too. One of our Christmas presents was a set of big bottles of washable tempera paint that we’ll be able to use for years.
Make sure you start with washable paint if you have little ones. If you have really little ones, start with fingerpaint and then you don’t need brushes, but you can get a decent collection for a few dollars at a craft store.
Again here you can expand into different kinds as you like — watercolors, glitter paints, paint pens, markers with tips that look like paintbrushes and more. But you can start with a very small collection and see how your kids use it before you buy more.
If your children are old enough to use scissors, a pair or two of safe scissors for their age is helpful. We have two pairs — one that lives upstairs and one downstairs — but if you only have one child and are prone to putting things away you can probably get away with just one.
If you have an older kid who really enjoys cutting, collage and things like card making, some decorative-edged scissors would be fun, too. But just plain scissors are useful for all sorts of cutting tasks. It’s up to you if you want to institute a rule about using particular scissors for paper versus fabric (we haven’t done that yet, but probably will once she’s working with fabric and felt more).
The girl loves stickers. Some kids don’t, but a piece of paper and a pile of stickers can amuse her for quite a long time.
In fact she spent three sittings over two days working on a “book” that was nothing more than four white pieces of paper colored blue with marker, covered with ocean stickers and taped together. It’s amazing how satisfying and entertaining these simple materials can be.
It’s great to have a variety, from plain paper stickers to foam and puffy stickers, in lots of different shapes and sizes. I like having some seasonal ones as well as ones we can use throughout the year.
Stickers are often on sale at craft stores, and check the clearance section at stores like Target for seasonal stickers after holidays.
We have a lot of stickers and there are always some in a little paper box for easy access.
6. Glue and Tape
Basic glue and tape from the dollar store or the school supply aisle are perfect, and if your kid is anything like mine they’ll go through it fast so you don’t want to spend a lot on it.
I’ve used regular white glue, clear glue, colored glue sticks, regular glue sticks (which are perfect for little ones who don’t know how much liquid glue to use), even glitter glue. We use regular clear tape downstairs, but she also has a tape dispenser that usually has some basic washi tape in it and a roll of painter’s tape for other uses.
Decorative washi tape from your stash is great for kid to play with when making cards or doing holiday crafts, or just to make regular crafting a little more fun.
What are your kid crafting must-haves? I’d love to hear if different supplies would make the cut in your house.