Okay then, grab a cup of tea and make yourself comfy. This could take a while.
Firstly let me tell you that I didn’t go out and just purchase all this stuff in one trip or even over a few shopping trips. This collection has gathered over years. I remember starting my first craft box back when my eldest was only a few months old. How’s that for planning ahead?! 🙂 In the discount stores I would hunt for useful and fun craft supplies and then just buy one $2 item to pop in our craft box. Perhaps a packet of tinsel pipe cleaners or some coloured craft sticks. It didn’t take long before we had two overflowing boxes of supplies. To this day I still keep an eye out for interesting but cheap supplies. Just the other day I found a $2 packet of miniature coloured craft sticks. The boys loved them and spent an afternoon gluing them on paper to make roads for their cars.Another source of supplies is other people’s junk. I put out the word to all of our family and friends that we love useful craft supplies. You’d be amazed at what people would throw away. Over the years we’ve been given a bag of wool, a bag of felt scraps, a dish of embroidery threads, a box of old corks, wooden cotton reels and buttons, old unused medicine eyedroppers, rolls of ribbon, material binding and elastic, cash register unused paper rolls and the list goes on. Of course we haven’t kept everything we’ve received but we’ve happily helped find a new home for things we have no use for or things we already have enough of.
(a dish of embroidery cottons)(a bag of felt scraps)
(a bag of wool)
(what’s left of our cash register paper)
(a miscellaneous box of treasures – elastics, material bindings, ribbon, packing tape dispensers)
Recyclables are another thing we ask family and friends to keep for us but we don’t keep every bit of plastic or cardboard. We’re a little more specific in this area as recyclables take up a fair bit of space. There are also certain things which are more useful than others. We love anything cylindrical like paper tubes and cardboard reels (but not toilet rolls…gross!!) , tins with tin lids (not ones with sharp edges), foil trays (all shapes and sizes), specialty boxes (small gift boxes, ring boxes, pen boxes etc), plastic screw top bottles (not medicine bottles unless labels are removed), and anything that’s unusual and interesting (e.g.Ferrero Rocher chocolates comes in all sorts of unusual dishes during the holiday seasons).
You can never have too many of these sorts of things and if you do, tip them out on the floor, give the kids some sticky tape and they’ll quickly take care of your abundant supply of recyclables. Our recyclables are kept in a large zip up bag and this helps me determine when we are oversupplied. (My neighbours often wonder why we never put our recycling bin out at the curb…quite simply…we can’t bear to part with these great craft items and when we have too many there are plenty of preschools and kindies that would love them).
Now we also collect things like egg cartons, margarine containers and cardboard food cartons but I don’t seek these things from others as we have more than enough of these items in our own home. Larger cardboard boxes are also great to have on hand. Thankfully we have plenty coming into our home on a fairly regular basis so there’s always one or two waiting to be recreated.
In our pantry I keep a plastic garbage bag on the floor where I place our empty cardboard food boxes. The boys can use whatever they want from this bag but each time we visit my sister (a prep teacher) the contents of the bag are donated to her classroom and we start our collection again.
So think carefully before you throw anything away…would this be useful for anything else. Often you’ll have left over supplies from your own craft or home project. Consider whether these items may be useful to your children before throwing them away.
(cd and dvds that failed in the burning process and old junkie cds off my brother’s computer magazines)(a collection of ribbon, lace and material flowers)
(a miscellaneous collection – pebbles, ribbon, miniature plastic dolls, plastic cups, mini pegs, twine)
(old dot stickers, streamers, and material filling)
(a basket of material scraps, old unused cards, various types of wrapping paper scraps, cellophane and foil trays)
Of course I don’t condone keeping every single thing that comes your way just in case you might need it one day. Attitudes like that can quickly lead to a major clutter problem. To control our collection I have set very strict boundaries. Our recyclables can only stretch to one garbage bag full in the pantry, one large zip up size of fun plastics and tubes, and our craft supplies will not surpass what I can contain in one cupboard. When we start to reach our limit I go through our supplies to see what we have too much of and what we could share with others. Sometimes just the mere act of Mummy opening the craft cupboard brings children from all corners of the house to consume your craft supplies. While taking the photos for this blog entry I had little men drooling over supplies they hadn’t seen in a while and they were absolutely desperate to take things to the table. So using the supplies is an easy suggestion for overflowing cupboards. Invite some homeschooling friends around for a craft session or two. Before long you’ll have plenty of space in your cupboard.
I know some people guard their craft supplies from the children and I can understand this but at the same time it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have the supplies if you only use them for planned activities. Most of my little men’s best creations are things they came up with themselves. Things that were inspired by a tv program or a book. Often the supplies are used in games – craft sticks and matchsticks are often game props (craft sticks make great roads for matchbox cars!).
I’m even reluctant to restrict the boys access by requiring them to ask before using the supplies. If they had to ask every time they wanted to use something like glitter I would always say “No”. I despise glitter and the clean up involved. So if I had to give my permission my boys would exist in a glitterless world. I’ve heard people say that their children would go berserk and pull everything out in one sitting if they had that kind of freedom. Perhaps that’s the case but perhaps it’s because they aren’t used to being allowed to freely use the supplies. (We have this problem when the boys’ friends come to play. They go berserk in the playroom and pull out and touch every item at least once but never sit and have a meaningful game with anything and leave a mess like you can’t imagine. )
Where do you start if you have just started homeschooling and want to begin a craft supply cupboard? The following would be my “must haves”:
* Plenty of markers, pencils and crayons. Our favourite type are Faber-Castell Connector Pens. They last longer than anything else we’ve used.* Plenty of tape options – masking tape, packing tape, sticky tape. These little tape dispensers are a wonderful new addition to our cupboard. Now my little men can use the tape by themselves.
* All sorts of glue – glue sticks, PVA and Clag. Our glue collection is extra large as we’ve organised many homeschool group craft sessions.
* Plenty of scissors stashed all over the house. Some in the study, some in the craft cupboard and some in the homeschool area. Someone is always looking for scissors so find one type of good quality scissors and buy lots of them. I’m not a fan of plastic safety scissors. They are “safe” because they cut nothing, including paper! Grrrr!
* Plenty of different sorts of paper. To start with I would suggest A4 and A3 photocopying paper as you can buy it fairly cheaply at most department stores (we buy ours at Big W). White A4 cardboard is also great for many printed craft activities. Then you can begin to add in other types – coloured squares (matt and gloss), coloured copy paper, watercolour paper, black paper and coloured A4 cardboard.
* Some sort of painting supplies. We have a basic paint basket where we store everything we need for a painting session – smocks, garbage bags to cover the table with (cut off the bottom join and slit down the side to form a large rectangle), basic brushes and sealable paint pots with paints stored within. We also keep foil in our basket as my boys like to paint on foil.
Those were the things I consider vital in my home. But there are other things that I find really useful and don’t like to be without. These may vary from home to home though. It all depends on the types of art and crafts your children enjoy.
* Craft sticks/Paddlepop sticks – we use them for craft, math and playing* Split pins – my little men love crafts that use split pins. They are such handy little things.
* Magnet backings – these can transfer most artworks into fridge magnets which make great gifts or useful items.
* Goggle eyes – these are musts if your children like to create creatures. You can glue them on or push them into materials like pladough.
* Joining materials like rubber bands, twine and string (Mental note for myself – we need more string. We only have wool and curling ribbons. Tragic.)
* Foil, brown paper, tracing paper and contact paper – these are really handy to have in your craft supply cupboard
So you’ve got the basics, now what next? Well I would suggest just buying materials as you need them in the beginning. You’ll end up with plenty of left overs each time and with your occasional cheap craft purchases from discount stores it won’t be long before you have a stash of stuff.What else do I have in my craft cupboard? A quick photographic list:
Various shape punchesRubbing templates and a spirograph kit
A good supply of glitter purchased for $2 a jar at a discount store at Christmas time
I store the glitter in spice jars ready to shake. I’ll confess that I do keep it on a higher shelf so the boys have to go to some effort to get it down. I also require that the boys use the glitter on the patio where I can just sweep it off the edge.
Plaster of Paris left over from a science activity with a dish of window markers stored on top. We love window markers. We have a new type that works on lots of hard surfaces. We often use them for drawing on our tiles.
Plenty of magazines to cut up. Be selective about which magazines you use. Some are totally inappropriate. Catalogues are also a good cutting up source and they deliver them free to your door.
A good selection of stickers
Various sticker foam shapes. Put an empty dish out with the shapes so the kids have a place to put the peeled off backings otherwise they end up on the floor or back in the tub which is really frustrating.
All sorts of feathers. We also have little fine coloured duck feathers and a dish of natural coloured feathers.
A tub of plaster shapes ready to paint.
A selection of fun Crayola and Faber-Castell products.
Various stencils and stencil books
Melty beads and Henna Bead kits (We glue magnets onto the back of our creations to turn them into fridge magnet gifts.)
Dishes of various paper squares (crepe paper, foil paper, coloured paper and mixed). When my children were toddlers learning to cut I cut one inch width paper lengths and gave them to the little ones to snip. They loved it and we now have a lifetime supply of paper squares. (A trick for keeping the mess at bay when your little ones are cutting up paper storms – Get them to sit in a large cardboard box when they want to cut.)
Various beads to thread on string, elastic or pipe cleaners
Pipe cleaners – My boys use these as a construction toy hence the twisted mass you can see.
Plain and coloured patty papers. We go through quite a lot of these.
Various large needles for threading and sewing activities
All sorts of foam products – sheets, bookmarks and shapes
Lots of sequins and rhinestones
Even more sequins and bling
Little pom poms…
and big pom poms
A box of leftover crepe paper
Tapestry canvas – This was being thrown out by a friend and I figured it may come in handy some day.
All sorts of papers – sandpaper, doilies, cellophane, tissue paper, easter egg foil, odds and ends of wrapping paper, paper plates in all sizes and even some wooden boomerangs waiting to be painted
Various specialty markers – our new window markers, metallic markers for writing on black paper, markers that are like paint brushes and colour changing markers
Paper bags of course
Fun paper plates that will make great puppets or masks some day
Various styrofoam shapes all from a $2 store which is why I stocked up
Various wooden items – craft sticks, matchsticks, cotton reels, corks, mini pegs, letters, and dolly pegs
Used stamps, pasta to thread, natural coloured feathers, and tiny glass beads (someone was throwing these out).
Do you need to refresh that cup of tea yet? I know this is an incredibly long photo-heavy post. But I hope it helps someone with their craft supply planning.In addition to the above items, I also have a collection of special drawing mediums. We use the Artistic Pursuits curriculum and it uses things like watercolour pencils, watercolour crayons, soft pastels, oil pastels and charcoal. They suggest using the best quality products that you can afford. I purchased a mix. Some things I got cheaply and others I had to pay what I considered a lot. I allow the boys to use any product that we’ve already used in our art lessons but keep the remaining products off limits so that they are special and new when their lesson rolls around. Even if the boys learn nothing about drawing they will already have had a better art education than I received in twelve years of school just by the mere use of such fabulous art mediums.
powder paints, shaving cream (great for easy fingerpainting), waterpaints (professional and children’s), brushes, sponge brushes, rollers, roller trays, straws, eyedroppers
paint scrapers, splatter paint screen, sponges, lids to act as paint palettes, cotton buds, old playdoh dishes for water pots
Okay so I think I’ve exhausted and thoroughly bored all of my readers. But that’s my craft supply cupboard for you. Here’s a quick look at the individual shelves now that they’ve received a bit of a tidy as a result of this blog entry:
This is actually our science kit shelf but it’s at the top of the craft cupboard so it snuck into the photos.The painting, glue and glitter shelf (evil stuff)
All sorts of stuff
More organised chaos
Paper, magazines and miscellaneous boxes.
So there you go – our craft cupboard. Feel free to ask any questions you may have that I haven’t addressed. I’ll do my best to answer any questions.Now hop up and walk around and let the blood flow back to your lower half. There should be a prize for those who made it all the way through this post.