Friday, May 18, 2012

Encouraging Creativity: Craft Supplies to Keep On Hand

Flickr Creative Commons photo by laffy4k.

 I always swore that I would not be one of those parents. That I would keep plenty of craft supplies around for my kids, to encourage their creativity, and not complain about the mess or clutter that resulted.

Mostly, that has worked out. Though a side effect of this philosophy has been that my kids make an enormous amount of arts and crafts. I have been known (ahem...) to lose my cool when I walk into my daughters' room and accidentally bump a pile -- resulting in an avalanche of homemade books, paintings, drawings, sculptures....we are working on that.

But the clutter is worth it. 

Hardly a day goes by in which my kids don't create something. And they create more than "just" art. They make things to solve a problem. They make furniture and accessories for Barbies (one of them just made a Barbie hang glider. I didn't even realize they knew what hang gliders were), toys for our cats, and even come up with board games that they all play together.

So having all of these materials on hand for them helps them do several things related to creativity: they solve problems, design and redesign if something doesn't work the way they want, and figure out new ways to do things. Critical thinking -- which is a huge part of creativity.

Here are some of our favorite craft supplies to have on hand. I don't spend a lot: we buy at "back to school" sales in summer, in the dollar section at Target, and on clearance. And many of these items, as you'll see, are free.


  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Markers
  • Chalk
  • Watercolor paints
  • Poster paints
  • Acrylic paints
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • Hole punches


  • Construction paper
  • Newsprint
  • Pompoms
  • Googly eyes
  • Glitter
  • Yarn
  • Sequins
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Glue
  • Glue sticks
  • Tape (different types, but we go through tons of Scotch tape)
  • Craft sticks
  • Fabric/felt scraps
  • Stamps and stamp pads
  • Stickers
  • Beads
  • Buttons

Recycled Items:

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Oatmeal containers
  • Shoe boxes
  • Plastic lids
  • Egg cartons
  • Small jars and clear containers

It looks like a lot. Actually, it kind of is a lot. We have an area in our coat closet dedicated to craft supplies, and the older girls also keep a plastic tool box full of craft supplies in their room.

At this point in time, they like drawing, painting, and constructing things they can use. My oldest has started writing books (we order blank paperback books from Amazon for her) and creating her own comic books. I'm hoping she continues with that. They've also showed interest in learning to crochet along with me, and, who knows? Maybe they'll take up painting or sculpture, or pottery somewhere along the way -- and maybe I'll learn it along with them! The important thing to us right now is to encourage their creativity, and help keep that spark alive.

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