When you have to stay inside, crafting with your kids can be a sanity saver - and fun too. Plus, it’s integral to their emotional and mental development (yay for you, awesome mama). If you’re just starting out with this crafting thing, here’s a list of supplies that will keep you and your littles occupied for hours.
You might still be at the stages that you need the washable kind...or do you ever leave it? We have different sizes - the chubby ones for the baby; and the skinnier ones for the pre-schooler. I used to keep them in a mason jar (you know, to be all hip and stuff), but as I’m sure you know, crayons multiply. Now we keep them in a GLIS box from IKEA.
Again...love for clean walls + kids love for markers = washables. For the baby, I also have the Color Wonder markers from Crayola so that if I need to turn my back and sweep up a pile of Cheerios, I won’t be greeted with his blue teeth and face 5 seconds later.
Tape is my pre-schooler’s adhesive of choice. Every day she comes home with all sorts of creations (purses, crowns, iPads) she’s forged with paper and tape. It’s also useful for taping down coloring sheets and drawing paper for the baby. I suggest having some Scotch tape and double side tape on hand, along with beautiful, colorful washi tape.
May end up being your pre-schooler’s favorite things. Target has their own brand of cute little ones (about half the length of regular ones) that are easy for her to hold. IKEA also has some really nice ones.
Elmer’s works great, washes out easily and can be used for a variety of projects. To save $, you might buy a giant jug and then refill the smaller bottles. At chez nous, we also keep glue sticks and glitter glue on hand (much less mess than loose glitter).
We have a variety of weights and formats in our cupboard. Sweetpea likes to have a blank pad that she can carry around and take on errands, so we have a few of those. We also have a giant table/easel roll from IKEA (the price on these are great).
IKEA has some really vibrant colors at a good price. We also like the construction paper pads from Target - there are the standard colors, plus some more muted (and pretty) hues. I also save colored tissue paper from birthday gift bags - it can be a great embellishment to drawings and other projects.
We have a couple pair of safety scissors. If you have a lefty, like I do, be sure what you buy will work for either hand, or specifically for southpaws. Learning to cut is frustrating enough!
Sweetpea can easily spend an hour making things out of pipecleaners. You can pick these up at Michael’s, Amazon and Target.
Beads can be paired with a variety of other supplies for endless creativity. Sweetpea loves to use them with pipecleaners, make necklaces and jewelry, and even just run her hands through them and sort them. We have beads in a range of shapes, colors and materials. Michael’s, if it isn’t too overwhelming, has just about anything you could think of, and at decent prices. We also like the wooden beads that came with a pipe cleaner set from Target. And if you haven’t discovered pop beads (we like the B toys brand), they are extremely fun and reusable.
For little ones, you might want the stretchy kind that has some give (and is more likely to break) should it get caught one something while they’re playing. I found 2 packs of ten colors on Amazon - probably all the beading string you’ll ever need, and at a great price. Sweetpea also really likes these silicone necklace cords. They’re re-usable, and she can hook them herself.
Yarn can be used for all kinds of things, from banners to jewelry to embellishments to needle-and-threading to science projects. A couple of cheap rolls from Michael’s or JoAnne should last you for years.
Paint & brushes:
You’ll probably need and want: washable finger paint, watercolors, and tempera. Our favorite and most sturdy brushes are from Melissa & Doug. The next time you and the family go out to eat, keep the plastic kiddy cups that your kids’ milk comes in (like what you get at First Watch) and use it to squirt paint in and wash out brushes. I usually give Sweetpea 3 or 4 colors, each in its own cup, to work with at a time.
This set of foam animal stampers (see below) is fantastic - easy to handle, with animals you & your littles can talk about (you can get them on Amazon). You might also throw in some alphabet stamps from the Target 1-spot, and IKEA Mala stamps. We use a giant ink pad with washable ink (also available on Amazon). It’s easy for kids to handle, and if it starts to dry out, all you have to do is give it a few squirts with a spray bottle.
Once on a transatlantic flight, I put a pack of blank yardsale dots in Sweetpea’s in-flight goody bag. She LOVED them. She and Monkey still love to cover sheets of paper with those dots, and use them to embellish drawings. Sometimes I also buy packs of other kinds of stickers, but they’re pretty happy with the dots and the mile long ribbons of the fun, oddball stickers they hand out at the Trader Joe’s checkout.
You could use an old shirt for this, but anything liquid may soak through. For a few dollars at IKEA you can get either a full body bib for your baby/toddler, or an art smock for your pre-schooler.
Sweetpea loves to cut pictures out of catalogs and glue them to paper. I always throw the seed catalog into our crafting cabinet. Some other good ones would be American Girl, Chasing Fireflies, and any kind of kid’s clothing. Boden and Hanna Andersson always have beautiful, bright colors and patterns.
Did you know that Land of Nod blog has a bunch of free coloring sheets by Michelle Romo? It’s true! They even have some Charlie Harper animal masks. Best part: they’re free.
And speaking of hip things to color, I've made this sheet featuring a mid-century modern home just for your little birdies!
Warning: you'll want to color this yourself.
Go ahead. You know you wanna.
Sweetpea and Monkey love to listen to music while they craft and play.
If you’re looking for children’s music that doesn’t make you want to stab your eyes out, I suggest Elizabeth Mitchell, Jack Johnson, Lullatone and Lisa Loeb (yes, she has several kids albums, and they're great). The soundtracks to Fantastic Mr. Fox, Room on the Broom, and The Gruffalo also have some absolutely beautiful, whimsical pieces your kids will love (and you won't hate). Get out your iPhone and bluetooth speaker, pull up Spotify, and you'll be set. One other note on music: I’ve noticed that the kids calm way the hell down at bathtime and mealtime when I put on their favorite music, especially Lullatone. So if no-more-TV battles are a regular occurrence, some music might also do the trick.
Need tunes right now? I made this Spotify playlist just for you, mamacita!
Wanna take this shopping? Download a printable version of this list right here.
Anything you use that's not on the list? Hook us up in the comments, mama!
PS: Any links in this article are NOT affiliate links. It's just stuff that I really like and I wanted to spare you the time of trying to find things (because you already have enough to do).