Well, I have compiled a list of MUST HAVES for most kid-art crafts. These are things readily available in most stores and are easy to store and inexpensive to buy. Some of these things you probably already have in your home. Most of these items can also be stored in a fairly small plastic container and won't take up too much space in your home but the uses and impact during the summer or Spring Break is so worth it.
- Construction Paper - get the assorted pack. You can use construction paper for ANYTHING including just for coloring. I like to cut some of this paper into halves & quarters to use to make cards. This also helps the paper last longer as the students in my class like to draw one small thing on each piece of paper.
- Crayons or Markers - you can NEVER go wrong with crayons and markers. These are essential tools for any budding artist. But did you know that you can also use any broken crayons to make unique toddler colors by melting them down in small muffin or chocolate molds? Got old, dried out markers? Band them all together and dip the tips into a bit of water to pull out any last drops of color. This would make GREAT water color paints for future use.
- Tissue Paper - This is fairly inexpensive and in some cases, free. Just save the tissue paper next time you get a gift or stock up during after-holiday sales. This can be used in a variety of ways. You can glue it to anything to add a little color and texture. Wad up small squares and add a 3-D look to any image. Make a "stained glass" window cling with a bit of construction paper cut into a shape with the center cut out. Add a shape to a piece of clear contact paper and fill the center with flat pieces of tissue paper. Then simply stick to the window and let the light shine through.
- Glue - Whether it is glue sticks, white glue, rubber cement, spray adhesive or hot glue guns Glue is a must have for craft projects. Now remember that each glue is different and each project is different. It is good to have multiple kinds of glue available to use as some things will only need a glue stick while other projects may need a heavier more sturdy glue. Either way, these different types of glue are inexpensive and last for a really long time.
- Paper Plates - from masks to animals to Frisbees and beyond, paper plates are really easy to use for crafts. You can decorate them with just about anything and use your imagination to create wonderful masks or animals. But paper plates aren't just for crafts. Punch a few holes in the edges and use it to help with children learn lacing and sewing. This helps with fine motor skills, strengthen hand muscles as well as control of movement and hand-eye coordination plus lacing is a very important skill for children to have when caring for self, i.e. shoes, belts, etc.
- Paint - Who doesn't like to paint (well I don't like to paint big things like walls or houses, but little craft projects, heck yeah). One really good tip is buy powdered tempera paint. This can be found in most craft supply stores or look in your neighborhood parent-teacher store. This stores really easily and you can mix colors easily to create new ones. This is also really good to use because depending on how much water you add you can use this as finger paint (the thicker the better, lots of paint, little bit of water), water colors (the thinner the better, little paint, lots of water) or regular paint. I used empty water bottles (washed and dried) and would pre-mix some paint to have around as well. The powdered paint costs a little more but it lasts FOREVER!!!
- Wooden Craft Sticks - You can use these for mask handles, build boxes, "log" houses, picture frames, and so much more. The list goes on and on for the uses of Wooden Craft Sticks. These are great to have on hand. One of the super fun ways we've recently used wooden craft sticks is the "Slap-it Game". We glued a foam hand to the ends of 2 sticks. We then pull out our flash cards and have 2 kids sit across from each other with space in the middle. I then lay down 2 cards and call out one thing we may be working on (such as letter sounds or types of penguins, vocabulary words, numbers, etc). The first person to slap the correct item wins or in our case, gets to pick the next friend.
- Permanent Markers - Now I know you must be thinking "I would NEVER give my child a permanent marker to color with" and you are correct!!! There are too many ways this could go wrong and too many things to ruin but it is handy to have a permanent marker for writing on these wonderful crafts that your children create that will never come off. Plus if your child is a bit older and more responsible, permanent markers are a great way to make shrinky dinks (remember those?). Another great idea is using permanent markers to draw on photo paper. These make awesome cards and with the permanent markers it doesn't make a huge wipe off mess.
- Scissors - Most people have scissors around the house but how many of you have kid scissors. Buy a couple of pair of kid scissors (they come in round or pointed tip, round are great for small children) and let the kids practice their cutting skills. Draw lines on a paper and have them cut along the line. This helps develop their fine motor skills and improve hand-eye coordination. Just make sure they don't run with them!!
- Buttons - My mom used to have this huge jar of buttons and I loved to think about all the things I could decorate with them. Use them as eyes or a nose or use them as a 3-D button on a picture. One way we've recently used buttons in our classroom is cutting a slit in some felt in various sizes (big enough to fit the buttons you have) and then sew the buttons on the other ends of strips or like we did was cut the slits into a felt turkey body and sewed the button onto some felt feathers. This is a life skill that kids need to have to help get dressed in the mornings and also helps with hand-eye coordination and control of movement and strengthening hand muscles.
I think you get the idea. There are countless other things to add to your craft supplies such as glitter, but as my sister pointed out after her daughter got into some glitter, it gets EVERYWHERE. Clothespins are a good addition as well. Felt and craft foam are also on the honorable mention list. The ideas are endless. I think that these are good basics that each person should keep on hand for those rainy days.