If you’re following the Lesson Plans, then you have some idea just how many art and craft supplies your child will go through in a week. If you have to buy all that stuff new, it might actually be cheaper to send your child to preschool than teach him yourself at home! The trick, then, is to find ways to gather as many materials as you can, for less, and not spend a lot of time doing it. Starting a craft box and maintaining it will certainly help.
Partial List of Craft Box Materials
* Construction paper
* Tissue paper
* Water colors
* Empty plastic or tin cup
* Small amount of sand
* Wiggle eyes
* Pipe cleaners
* old greeting cards
* Snips of paper
* old newspapers
* Medium box with a lid
* old wrapping paper
* Imagination and fun
Even if each item only cost around $2.00, you’ve still got over $60 invested in something consumable! But art and craft projects are so important for your child, not only in encouraging creativity, but for self-expression, releasing strong emotions, developing coordination, and fine motor control. Art packs a lot of “bang” for your buck. Still, if you can save a few bucks, your child’s art can have a lot more bang.
Creating a Craft Mentality
Butcher paper can sometimes be bought in bulk, and works as well as fingerpaint paper.
Cut buttons off of old clothes, store in a jar or zip-bag in your craft area. Cut up old clothes into fabric scraps for the scrap box.
You can remelt broken bits of crayons into new crayons. Only let a child help with CAREFUL supervision. Hot wax can be dangerous! Use an old muffin tin. Put all the red bits into one cup, all the blue bits into another cup, etc. Put the pan in a warm oven until melted. (about 300 degrees for 5 minutes). Let them cool and harden, then pop them out of the pan. You can put the hot crayon pan in the freezer, as this may help them pop out better. (Save the muffin pan for future crayon melting craft projects.) You can also make multi-colored “scribble” crayons, by NOT sorting the colors. Just put a variety of colors in each cup, but be extra careful NOT to over-melt them. You want the crayon bits to soften and stick together, but not for the colors to swirl into a big muddy mess. Try using cone-shaped paper cups for a unique mold.
Home – Made Paste Recipes
1 cup sugar
1 qt water
1 T. powdered alum
3 drops oil of cloves
Mix flour, alum and sugar together. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the water. Bring remainder of water to boil and add the mixture to it, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until fairly clear. Remove from heat and add oil of cloves. Makes 1 quart of paste. Keeps a long time! Keep moist by adding a small piece of wet sponge to the top of a small jar of paste.
4 tsp conrstarch
1/2 tsp powdered alum
2/3 cup water
Mix dry ingredients. Add water slowly, stirring out the lumps. Cook in a double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when paste begins to thicken. It will thicken more as it cools. Keep covered. Thin with a bit of water when necessary.
Buy in Bulk and Save
Buy glue in a gallon container, and buy one smaller glue bottle which you’ll refill often. If you teach your child to close the glue bottle every time, you won’t have to keep trying to unstick it with a pin or nail.
Buy powdered tempra paint, instead of the premixed stuff. It is more versatile, and a lot cheaper. You can make a thin cornstarch and water base to thicken the paint.
A printing shop may be an excellent source for small scraps of colored paper and cardboard.
Recycle Usable Junk
Where does your spouse work, or your friends? What gets “thrown out” there? You can collect cardboard boxes, used paper, tissue paper, and more. My daughter’s office once printed off 700 pages of a report when it only needed 7 pages. Since it was only printed on one side, she had a stack of nearly 700 papers just waiting to be colored on by an eager 2 year old.
Were you ever given a really ugly sweater? You can pull the yarn apart and add it to the craft box.
Visit your senior center or frequent garage sales for yarn scraps, fabric scraps, buttons, more.
Whenever you are ready to throw something out, ask yourself if it can be reborn in a child’s imagination. Empty egg cartons can be made into caterpillars. Empty salt or oatmeal canisters can be made into doll cradles. Old salt and pepper shakers can hold colored sand for sand art. Old tee shirts can be smocks for youngsters, to protect their clothing. Even the annoying little dots inside a three-hole punch can be put into the craft box!
Save old calendars (with nice pictures, please!), old magazines, old greeting cards, to be cut up and pasted into something new.
Pull the petals and leaves off old fake flowers for collages.
Save a few paper towel tubes, popsicle sticks, shoe boxes.
Organize Your Collection
For preschoolers, don’t leave the craft box where they can get at it. Crafts is something they will do at the kitchen table, and only when you can supervise. Perhaps by the time your child is six or seven, he will be mature enough to have free access to the craft box. He may even help you gather materials for it! But watch out – you want to encourage their creativity, not create a pack rat!