Creative Art Materials

by Abigail Percy on 03/03/2006

in Kids Crafts


In my last post about Family Drawing Time, I mentioned the importance of using quality art supplies with children. I also think it’s very important to encourage the use of ‘alternative’ art materials. When we’re feeling bored with the clay, crayons, and markers these are the three unusual places we look to for inspiration:

The Pantry:A perfect time to clean out any food that isn’t going to get eaten anyway! Think beyond the pasta necklace and head for smooth beans, popcorn, seeds and grains. These can be glued in designs to paper, or made into shakers, or strung on a string.
Nature:There’s no greater source of materials than out in the wide world around us–look for small rocks, leaves, acorns, pinecones and more. The ‘hunt’ becomes an adventure itself. Red Current recently shared her family’s version of this activity.
The Trash:Oh yes, the garbage. Or, perhaps a bit more sanitary–the recycling bins. Take some inspiration from the great recycling artists out there and get creative with the stuff that you (or others) are getting rid of. We keep an art box for the kids full of such random pieces as bottles, newspaper, tubes, and cardboard. With a free imagination, they can turn into anything.

Where do you go for your creative craft materials?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kyrie March 3, 2006 at 7:46 am

these are three fantastic ideas! when i was teaching preschool, we would have ‘art saturdays’ when i would have the kids bring in things from their house (again, the recycle bin) or backyard (again, nature) and we would have a heyday. sometimes it’s even more fun to use something new to you. this would be a fun kids’ party idea, too.

here in portland we have a great place called scrap (i think there is something similar in san fransisco?) that is the same idea, on a bigger, grown-up (yet still very thrifty) scale.

the thrift shop is a great place to find unusual art supplies, too!


2 Renata March 3, 2006 at 8:21 am

As a former child crafter, I’d say the recycled paper bin. I’d get out old paper and make collages. Especially out of Sierra Club calendars, those are the best!


3 rebecca March 3, 2006 at 9:02 am

when i was little my dad worked for a utility company. all the offices in the building dumped their recycling (regular paper only) into *huge* boxes (or they seemed that way to me). i was allowed to literally climb inside them and pick out the paper i wanted to take home to make things with. i think we had so much at home that it was still used as scratch paper around the house until well after i moved out. dad’s job was also good for the pretty-colored telephone wire and huge huge table sized wooden spools.

in the slightly more adult world (but the same general direction) boeing surplus is a lot of fun if you happen to be in the northwest. dumpsters near ad-agencies for paper sample books :) etc.


4 Anamaria March 3, 2006 at 9:32 am

All of those places! And my scrap basket, of course. I keep a scrap basket for Leo, and even though it can be hard for me to let go of bits of ribbon and trimmings, I love to see what he comes up with (clothes for his stuffed animals; clothespin dolls; fabric collages; and my favorite, a series of portraits we made using collage materials–I’ll have to post pictures of those!).


5 mav March 3, 2006 at 10:00 am

i used to just use chalk.
either on the sidewalk or on my easel …
i love these ideas and will remember them.
great post!


6 admin March 4, 2006 at 9:54 am

great ideas


7 Emily S. March 6, 2006 at 7:47 am

These are all wonderful ideas! I wish to comment about the “splurge on quality materials” thought. Many, many people can not splurge on materials, will never be able to purchase things at an art shop. I have yet to hear of a child (or adult) who’s creativity is either stifled, incorrectly fed and grown or misled by poor quality materials. A pencil. A pen or watercolors from a grocery store. Chalk, markers or colored pencils from a dollar store. Newsprint tablets, copy/printer paper or the back of used envelopes. Whatever you have, use them and enjoy them!


8 soulemama March 26, 2006 at 9:55 pm

Good point Emily– but ‘quality materials’ doesn’t necesarily mean ‘expensive’! We buy most of our art supplies at thrift stores, yard sales, or from local art shops and schools getting rid of surplus. It takes a bit of extra effort, but I think it’s worth it!


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