So, you say you want to stock your child’s arts and crafts bin. Your pint-sized Picasso is all about finger painting and creating crazy little crayon-scapes — and he’s only one year old! There’s absolutely no need to wait until your kiddo can add, subtract and learn his ABCs before introducing him to the wide (and wild) world of art. Before you get lost in the super-stacked aisles of your local craft store, check out these artsy items that you need in your kid’s craft bin!
1. Crayons: Well, duh. So you already know that crayons are “the” art bin staple. When you go to buy a box, you’ll notice the impressive array of crayons available. Rule out oil pastels or any other oil-based crayon. These are typically made for kids who are ages three and up, making them not appropriate (or safe) for younger children. Chunky or chubby crayons are easier for your child to grip. That said, a variety of widths gives your young artist the chance to grip and grab in different ways, building fine motor skills.
2. Wax Paper: Huh? Yep, that’s right — wax paper. Instead of buying fancy (and outrageously expensive) palettes to hold your tot’s paint, try this trick: Keep a roll of plain ole wax paper (the stuff that’s already in your kitchen) in your little one’s art bin. When it’s time to pour out the finger paints, tear off a sheet, fold it over and use it as a DIY palette.
3. Sponges: No, not for cleaning. Of course, doings arts and crafts with tiny tots equals major mess. Your little artist is having so much fun that you don’t mind scraping crayons from the table or paint from your hair. But in this case, the sponges are for art-making only! You could go out and buy super-fancy (read: super-pricey) art sponges. Or, you could cut apart the kitchen kind. Only use new sponges; old ones can harbor harmful bacteria. Make squares, triangles, diamonds and rectangles. If you’re a bit more daring, cut out hearts and letters! Now your crafty kiddo has a set of inexpensive paint stampers that she can use over and over again.
4. Clay Tools: Go ahead. Check out what the craft store sells. You probably won’t fall in love with the price — especially when you think about the fact that you’re buying clay tools for your two-year-old. Your child is all about smashing, mashing, pushing, pulling and rolling her play dough. So create your own set of tools to stash in the craft bin. Plastic spoons, wide craft sticks, mini rolling pins, cylinder-shaped blocks and chunky LEGOs are all items that you might already have on hand. Toss them into a zipper baggie to keep them together.
5. Scraps: You have four inches left on that roll of gift wrap. You could toss it, or you could put it in your child’s craft bin. Gather together construction paper, tissue, fabric, felt, foam and any other paper-like scraps that you have. Put them in a small-sized box or a freezer baggie. Add a non-toxic glue stick and you have a ready-to-use collage pack.
6. Paintbrushes: Okay, so you don’t need to run out and fill your toddler’s art bin with fine art brushes from the fancy paint section of the craft store — a few inexpensive ones in different sizes will do. You’ll find a super-sized selection of brushes in the paint section of your local hardware or home improvement store. Grab some thick-handled brushes (the kind you would use to paint the walls), edging rollers and sponge-tipped painters. Not only can your child use these with her tempera paints, but she can also dip them into pudding, yogurt or even mashed berries to paint in an entirely edible way.
7. Clear Folder Dividers: Even though your child is years away from needing real school supplies, she can use these as easy-to-clean easels. Give her a few washable markers or gel finger paint and let her go to town. When she’s done, you can either hang the dividers on the window as scribble-covered suncatchers or wash them off to use again!
What’s your child’s favorite artsy item? Share your answer and tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)