We love crafts – both my kids and me. We do something “crafty” about once a day, sometimes even more! Some days it’s basic like coloring with crayons but other days it’s a little more elaborate like making leaf mosaics or butterfly wings. But whatever the craft it’s always fun and the kids love flexing their creative muscles.
A frequently asked question on my Instagram page is “what are your go-to art supply staples?”. Especially during pandemic times when we are spending a lot more time at home, and needing to make do with what is around, I have found that a well stocked craft pantry really helps – just like a well stocked kitchen pantry does 🙂
Yes you can go wild at the craft store and spend hundreds of dollars on all sorts of fancy paint pens and trinkets (no judgement….I was talking about myself because I’ve done that!). But really it doesn’t have to be elaborate. With these 18 items below you can do hundreds of crafts and activities. And in terms of storage that also doesn’t need to be fancy. Keep everything tucked away in some plastic bins (these Kuggis bins from Ikea are my favorite because they stack and you can write on them easily with dry erase marker!) and pull it all out when your kiddos are ready to get crafty.
These are items I like to have on hand at all times along with some suggestions and ideas for crafts you can do with them:
- Contact Paper
- Markers and/or Crayons
- Washable paint
- Paper Plates
- Glue – Elmers/white glue and glue sticks
- Googly Eyes
- Rolls of Paper
- Tissue Paper
- Pom Poms
- Pipettes and/or Plastic Syringes
- Paper – Plain white and construction
- Do a dot markers
- Pom poms
- Corn starch
- Popsicle sticks
- Toddler/preschool scissors
Contact Paper is great for lots of different crafts – but my favorite is making window mosaics with the kids. You can use different color combinations of tissue paper for different holidays or times of the year – red/green for Christmas, blue/white for winter, red/pink for Valentine’s Day, red/white/blue for 4th of July…you get the idea. It’s also fun to make leaf mosaics in the fall or spring – we go on hunts outside for beautiful leaves or flowers and then press them between the contact paper. Hang on the windows or a storm door and it’s a fun decoration.
Washable paint is a staple for us. We go through tons of it – so much so that I buy it by the case. I also love these Painting rocks, paper, banners, pictures, etc — that’s all self explanatory. These pallets are great for any sort of creation. But I also use it when we make things colored like the snow paint we did a few weeks ago, or bubble foam. I prefer using the washable paint to food coloring because it doesn’t stain the kids’ hands or their clothes. Anytime you see a craft calling for food coloring I would consider making the switch to mixing in washable paint instead. With a few bottles of paint handy the options are endless. Also, I get big packages of paint brushes too – relatively cheap ones because the twins tend to mush them into the paper and bend the bristles.
I have paper plates in my pantry because they are easy palettes for paint – no mess just throw them right away. But also because we make some fun crafts with them – snow flakes in the winter, flowers in the spring, sunshines in the summer, etc. If you attach them to sticks you can turn plates into “tennis racquets” which are perfect for batting balloons back and forth.
Playdough, crayons and markers, Elmer’s glue, construction and plain paper and do a dot markers…these are all pretty standard items. Not much to explain – good to have around you can have endless fun with them! Don’t ever underestimate the amount of fun preschoolers and toddlers have ripping or cutting paper with toddler scissors then gluing it to other paper. The twins could spend hours doing it.
Rolls of paper are so handy to have. I use them to cover the table when we are doing something like painting — it keeps surfaces clean but also makes clean up easier. If you use paper plates as paint pallets then just clean up the brushes and the art, then rollllllll the paper up and the plates right into it. Throw it away! Clean up done. I like to use doctor exam table paper for this — it’s thin and the rolls last forever. But I also keep craft paper rolls on hand for various projects. The twins love to lie down and have me trace their bodies, then they color in their clothes/hair/features. It’s also fun to “send hugs” to relatives. The twins get a big kick out of having a giant canvas to draw on with their crayons or markers – so often times I’ll cover the table in long paper, or stretch it out on the floor, and let them go to town!
Pom poms are instant fun in our house. It’s the same as the cutting and glueing paper concept – preschoolers seem to love taking their artwork to the next level by giving it a third dimension. A little bit of glue and some pom poms will help elevate any crayon or marker drawing! We make caterpillars using pom poms and popsicle sticks – just glue the poms onto the popsicle sticks, the color combinations are endless! We glue one or two googly eyes onto pom poms to make silly little monsters. Again, with different color combinations and pom pom sizes the options and monster personalities are plentiful! I also love to use pom poms in sensory play – freeze them in ice and have your kids melt it by dripping water from pipettes on it or dig out of rice bins and sort by color. And finally a favorite “baby” pom pom craft are Pom Pom buckets which you can make using an empty yogurt container. That concludes my Ted Talk on pom poms….I hope you’re convinced that you need them in your pantry 🙂
Back to googly eyes for a second – as you know they’re great for pom pom monsters – but in general I love having these around because they let us make monsters, aliens, creatures, animals, etc out of ANYTHING. Leaves, rocks, pom poms, drawings, sticks, pine cones, paper plates, cups…you name it putting googly eyes on it makes it SO fun.
Corn starch might seem a little random but it’s actually become a staple for us! In fact I never understood who bought the giant containers of it…until I became that person ordering them. It’s handy to have around! And when you craft with it you tend to need a lot (a cup or more at a time). During the summer we make chalk paint and during the winter snow paint by mixing corn starch, water, and washable paint. Give it a good stir and then head outside with some paint brushes or pipettes! The twins love painting our stone walkway with the chalk paint and turning it into a colorful pathway. And fresh snow is a blank canvas just begging for a little bit of color. A fun baby/toddler safe activity is to make yogurt playdough out of cornstartch and (non fruit) yogurt. L&H used to love this when they were younger! You can also make oobleck by mixing two parts corn starch to one part water. It’s a little messy but it’s neat because it is a “non-Newtonian fluid” which means it has properties of both liquids and solids.
String is the last item that I have in my craft pantry – I just have a basic kitchen twine and it has never let me down. Whether it’s hanging up a pine cone adorned with pom poms or stringing up a painter banner, it’s just handy to have. We also love to take big boxes and cut butterfly or bird wings out of them, attach string and then L&H “fly” all over the house and yard. Also, an easy snack time craft the twins are fans of is stringing cheerios onto string to make edible necklaces. It’s great for hand eye coordination and helps keep them busy at the table!
Does this inspire you to make a craft pantry? Do you have these items on hand already – maybe you’ll make a new craft with something you already have! Tell me below!
Disclaimer: Please note that there are affiliate links on this page and I will earn a small commission if you purchase through those links. However, all opinions are my own. Thank you for your support.