Crafting with kids… it’s a love/hate subject. Let’s be honest, you either find doing crafts with your kids precious. Or you find it messy and irritating. I’m a 50/50 mix. I love watching my boys create. But I can easily talk myself out of doing projects because of the effort and planning the crafts take and how messy they can be. I’m not good with messy play and crafts. However, crafting with your kids is vital to their learning and development! The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what the craft or project is, it just matters that you take time to do it with your kids. It is quality bonding time that is absolutely worth the mess!
That being said, moms, don’t feel bad if you dread doing crafts with your kids. Or if you don’t do crafts with them at all. My hope in this post is that maybe you will see that crafting can be fun. And if you’re well prepared, it can be almost prep-free. And… that all of us, even the bloggers that make the fancy projects on Pinterest have craft fails and problems. You’re not alone.
I won’t disclose names, but one evening when some of us Chicagoland area blogging girlfriends got together, we were sharing our personal challenges on kid activities and crafting with kids. One mom shared that she has sensory dislikes so making slime for her child was quite a feat. Another blogging buddy admitted that her kid-friendly craft failed twice. Most things don’t come out Pinterest pretty the very first time. But we’re crafting with kids so technically they’re not supposed to.
Craft projects can be as simple as pulling out paper, markers and crayons, and stickers. Even the simplest thing brings joy to our kids and that’s why we do it.
So below are our 10 craft supply must-have categories and some of our favorites in each category. Hopefully they will give you some ideas to stock your craft corner and help you and your kiddos get creating!
(This post contains affiliate links to our favorite stores and products.)
10 TERRIFIC CRAFT SUPPLIES FOR KIDS
PAINTS & PAINTING SUPPLIES
As I admitted above, I am one of “those moms” who is not into messy play or messy art/craft projects. And sadly because of my distaste of messiness, I had never done any painting activities with my boys until my oldest started attending a preschool/daycare one day a week at age 2 ½. He came out of his classroom beaming as he showed me his newest painted masterpiece. It was at that point that his teachers confirmed that he always chose painting as his free play activity.
So I decided to go for it… we painted wood letters for my middle child’s birthday. Then we painted and used an excess of glitter (also messy) to make beautiful Easter decorations. And even though little man had a great time and I realized that him painting wasn’t “that messy”, the paint supplies were once again re-shelved. Even sadder is the fact that it didn’t resurface for another year and a half!
Finally I just decided to go for it and I’ll tell you my boys are the happiest crafters when they have a paintbrush in hand! Sometimes I am adamant about painting smocks and other days, my only rule is that sleeves have to be pushed up. I am very slowly learning to overcome my fear of messes because of the joy it brings my boys. In fact, as I’m sitting at my kitchen island writing this, there are 3 bottles of paint sitting in front of me from our last painting project!
So moms, regardless of what age your kids are… let your little Picassos have at it! You will all be happier for it!
- Washable or watercolor paints (or for more color variety, go for craft paints)
- Paint smocks or an old ‘paint shirt’
- Paint brushes – Start with large handled brushes for younger children. However, as their grasp and motor skills increase you can try them out with different sized brushes and handles.
- Paint tray
- Paper towels and/or wet wipes
- Plastic table covering
- Paper thick enough to withstand paint (regular paper will often tear with watercolors because of the water saturation)
Cutting tools, mostly for moms, will be a HUGE blessing for crafting with kids! It makes cutting so much simpler… especially when making multiples of a craft or when crafting with small children who aren’t scissor ready yet.
- Paper cutter. I can’t tell you how much use I get from this simple tool! I have an arm paper cutter. It takes up more room than a razor blade cutter, however, the edges are smooth and it is quick! From small strips of paper to cutting paper plates in half, this tool is a huge time saver for me! (Side note: I really love it for cutting pages of school pictures to size. With 3 kids and lots of family, it makes this task so fast & simple!)
- Paper punches. Check out the scrapbook section of your local craft store for some awesome options in punches! The boys especially like the larger punches that they can operate (with some help). I am so glad I purchased both a ½” and a 1” circle punch! We use them for alien eyes, dot crafts, and shape-learning activities. I have my eye on the snowflake punches for those intricate details that would be a little too challenging for our stage of cutting & crafting. AND… for smaller shapes, there are punches that operate like a hole puncher, but produce shapes like stars and flowers! (For size reference, check out the small stars on the flag of our Handprint Flag Cards.)
- Cricut or other cutting machines. These can be really pricey, but so very useful! My mom has a Cricut and I’m always asking her to bring it over or I put in requests for items I would like her to cut for me. How a Cricut works… choose your shape/design from the machine-specific cartridge, program the machine with the desired cut and size, feed your scrapbook paper through, and watch it cut for you! My mom cut all 50+ stars for our Veteran’s Day Craft and all 150 leaves for our Thankfulness Trees! Honestly, I am not sure I would have done these crafts without having pre-cut shapes. And can I just say that my Christmas wish list (I’m giving to my mom) includes baggies of shapes (stars, hearts, leaves, shamrocks, etc.) for future crafts! These machines are wonderful! If it is not in your budget though, consider buddying up and sharing the cost of a machine with a fellow crafting friend. Or hire someone else to do your cutting. Don’t know which Cricut is for you? Go directly to the Cricut website for the scoop on all the model options.
This is a pretty obvious supply for crafting. However, there are so many beautiful and fun paper choices available!
- Construction paper. If you are like me, you probably grew up with just a tablet of construction paper and plain white paper. I never felt like I was missing anything. You can’t go wrong with construction paper! It comes in all the basic colors and it’s durable. The downside to construction paper though is that it fades in the sunlight. So if you’re doing a project you want to keep for years, it won’t preserve very well.
- Scrapbooking paper. Okay, wow… all the options for scrapbooking paper can be overwhelming! Scrapbook paper is available for every season, holiday, celebration, color, and pattern you could hope for! Plus, it comes in both 8 ½” x 11” and in 12”x12” sizes which is great for some larger projects, has smooth or textured finish, doesn’t fade, and works well for painting.
- Butcher paper. Rolls of this thick brown butcher paper can be so much fun! Use it as a long canvas, make banners with it, or make your own wrapping paper from it. The !
Stickers are a great easy way to let a child create on his/her own with little to no guidance! Use them to embellish a project you’ve been working on together or have a collection of them available for self-crafting.
Nothing livens up a project more than googly eyes and kids LOVE them! They add dimension. They add fun! It is a simple, but wonderful supply to have. From animal eyes, to snowman eyes, to monster eyes, handprint Santa ornaments, and our Roll-a-Santa game… googly eyes (also called wiggly eyes) work for all crafts! We even put them in our ‘I Spy jars’! No matter how you look at it… googly eyes are great!
Honestly, we don’t use a lot of string. However, string has so many uses, it should have a place among your favorite crafting supplies. At this time of year, string can turn an ordinary craft into a Christmas ornament. It can be hair. It can make lines and shapes. You can thread it through macaroni noodles for necklaces and bracelets. I won’t string you along… this is a good choice for your crafting closet!
My favorite kind of “string” isn’t string in the literal sense, but rather twine. OMG… I LOVE twine! It can turn a so-so craft into a darling little farmhouse creation! It’s great to wrap around a mason jar to add a decorative flair, or use it to hang ornaments.
I have never been a fan of paper plates except for camping and… crafting! Yes! There are tons of great paper plate crafts! From making animal faces, masks, or fish bowl crafts, paper plates are now a staple in our crafting supplies. If you need ideas, check out my Pinterest page for kid activities and crafts!
It wasn’t until our oldest son was about 3 years old that I actually discovered all the benefits to scissor cutting and just how much it affects your child’s fine motor skill development. Did you know that scissor cutting (with proper scissor grasp):
- provides practice in using the tripod fingers (thumb, forefinger and middle finger) together. The tripod fingers are what work together in controlling a pencil. Developing the proper pencil grasp attributes to good handwriting.
- strengthens your child’s hand muscles
- helps to improve fine motor skills
So get a pair of child-size scissors (rounded tip) and let your kid get cutting… even as early as age 2! Have them freestyle cut or print out a practice cutting sheet! Your child will love it! BTW we have all kinds of free fun scissor cutting practice printable sheets:
- Thanksgiving Scissor Cutting Practice Sheets (printable)
- Christmas Cutting Practice Sheets (printable)
- Winter Scissor Cutting Practice Sheets (printable)
- Construction Truck Scissor Cutting Practice Sheets (printable)
PAPER LUNCH BAGS
If you have been on Pinterest, I’m sure you’ve seen some fabulous paper lunch bag crafts. Connor came home at Thanksgiving with a brown paper bag turkey. It had feathers (strips of colored construction paper) glued on the back and of course, googly eyes! Or there are some great Advent calendars going around with these. Use the bags for puppets, to make birthday party gift bags, and more!
I know what you’re thinking… “glue, duh!” But adhesive preferences can be a sticky situation! (Pun intended.)
Having a variety of adhesives can make crafting with kiddos much easier and should be considered for each craft. Check them out:
- Glue sticks – an essential supply for preschoolers. Handing a child a glue stick and watching them paste away gives them a sense of accomplishment. They’re a big kid now. They can glue on their own. And… its mostly mess-free!
- Elmer’s glue – this is pretty much just used by mommy. If we are doing an “organized” craft, are using string, are lining up items, or are gluing something small that just needs a dot of glue… Elmer’s glue is your friend.
- Scrapbook adhesive — ahhhh… my favorite. Its like stickers on a roller! It can be a little frustrating for little ones because of having to position the roller just right. However, on slick items, this can be a wonderful tool.
- Double-sided tape – once again, easy and mess free. The plus side to double-sided tape over scrapbook adhesive is price (much less costly) and easier to use since it’s a simple pull and tear. And its a great non-messy adhesives for kids!
Moms, this is for you…
Now we know that behind every crafting kid is an awesome mom who is making it all happen. So mamas, here are a couple tips and craft necessities to make crafting with kids so much easier for you!
If my craft supplies aren’t organized, I’m much less likely to craft with the boys. So I need all our supplies grouped in one area of the house where I can find them. Previously, I had all our craft supplies in a canvas bin on the top shelf of a bedroom closet. Not very accessible and therefore not likely for me to plan projects for us. So I moved all our craft supplies to an area in the basement that I deem our “Crafting Corner” (although it’s just where we keep our supplies, not where we do our crafts at this point). Inside the cabinet are Sterilite plastic boxes (big enough to hold an 8.5×11 paper) for the main holidays or seasons (Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s, Winter, Spring & Summer) where we can store printouts, coloring sheets, holiday stickers, etc.
However, I also needed somewhere to store all our small parts (googly eyes, glue sticks, pipe cleaners, buttons, scrapbook adhesive, etc.). I searched the craft stores, organization stores, and online. I thought I found a great organizer until I realized it didn’t hold an 8.5×11” sheet of paper. I wanted something I could tote anywhere whether it be upstairs to our kitchen island where we do our crafting or take it to grandma’s house or on vacation.
Then I found it… the epitome of organizers! And I found it at a moving sale of all places. It was a fishing tackle box! It was brand new (all stickers still on) for $10! Friends, I have to tell you that years later, I still love this organizer. It has 4 boxes that can be removed, it has plastic pieces to customize the tray sizes, it holds 8.5″x11″ paper… it is just awesome! And it’s just a Plano 1374 4-By Rack System 3700 Size Tackle Box!
Let me give you a little tip… your local craft stores sell organizers and it’s nice that you can go open them and check out the compartments. BUT… they are quite a bit more expensive than a tackle box and yet do the same thing! Tackle boxes don’t have the prettiness of a girly-looking craft organizer. But for your budget, either wait for a sale at the craft store, buy it online, or head to the fishing section of a local big box store.
Whatever your organization preferences are… totes, organizer boxes, drawer dividers, etc… get your crafting supplies organized to make crafting with kiddos less stressful for you!
I mentioned that we have a “Crafting Corner” but that we don’t use it to craft at. We still use our kitchen island for our crafting. I want to know when the boys are crafting, not find a mess elsewhere later. Crafting space should be somewhere that is easy to clean up and that is known as the “designated craft spot”. Having a designated craft spot doesn’t mean you have to make a special room or space in your home. It just means that everyone in the house know “we do crafting here”. Maybe it’s the dining room table. Maybe it’s the kitchen island. Maybe it’s a card table you put up. And let you children know “THIS is where we do crafts.” I have a friend who doesn’t give her children boundaries on where crafting is allowed and it they have drawn on the walls, used permanent marker on their sofa, painted on the table and other furniture pieces. Their house has been literally destroyed by children “creating”. It is good for everyone to put this boundary into place!
Here are a couple ideas on how you can find a crafting space in your home:
- Have a closet you’re not using? Use it for craft supplies.
- Have a corner in the playroom that doesn’t get utilized? Purchase or make a child size table to do crafts at.
- Have an extra shelf or bookshelf that doesn’t get much use? Designate it as a place to store & organize your supplies.
Wherever your craft spot is, know that it’s going to get messy. Make sure you have enough room for everyone to craft. And supply your area with wipes, paper towels, or a sink.
One of my favorite things to do with my boys is to pull out my organizer full our our favorite craft supplies and give them the freedom to create as their little hearts please. I love to see how they use the supplies and what is going on in their little imaginations. Crafting doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. It doesn’t have to be extraordinary projects. Craft time is just allowing your kids to create and put their imagination on paper.
So don’t stress, mama! As long as you are prepared with the supplies and space needed, crafting with your kids will be more enjoyable and stress-free!