I currently have a toddler and a preschooler, so life is busy all day long at our house. I’m going to share one thing that has brought me sanity as a mother.
Have a Well-Stocked Closet Full of Kid’s Craft Supplies & Activities!
There is nothing better than that moment when I’m trying to just have 10 minutes of sanity so that I can just
exercise and be healthy get dressed for the day and I realize I have just the thing! Some days it’s “Here my darlings! Here is a strip of stickers. Put them all over the fridge, all over the house, all over your face even! Have a heyday!” or.. “Here are some magnets! Put them all over the fridge/oven/dryer while I be productive for a moment!“
Other days I delight in my kid’s craft closets (let’s be honest, I have multiple), because I want a boredom buster that we can all do together. There is still that little kid in me that likes to do artsy things alongside my kids, but Pleeaassee don’t make me color again! I need variety. And variety we have!
I consider our crafty/artsy closets to be one of my best investments. If all hell broke loose and the power went out, and we were stuck in our house for days on end….I have LOTS of different activities we could do! Lots. So…without further ado…
Here is a list of some things we have invested and stocked up on. Granted, if you want to stock up on kid’s crafts/activities, don’t feel like you need to have a lot of money and buy it all at once. That was not me. I did this gradually. If I were you, I would bookmark (or pin) this list and come back to it each month. MAKE A BUDGET for kid’s supplies. I promise, it will pay off in way more friendly ways than the fast food budget 🙂
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Let’s start with Sensory, since that’s our favorite:
SENSORY ACTIVITY SUPPLIES
- Elmer’s Glue. Trust me when I say your kids need this. Not just for gluing things. That’s at the bottom of the activity totem pole. You can use Elmer’s glue for all sorts of activities (including homemade slime). I consider owning glue in all its varieties: regular, clear, and glitter.
- Water Beads. Oh my heck. These are so fun. Even for me. I might even get a therapeutic feeling from playing with them. You can get about 15,000 of them for less than $15 so this is a CHEAP activity! Just supervise on this one so the kids don’t try to eat them or stick them up their noses (both have happened at our house). More info on fun things you can do with them here: Water Beads Fun!
- Rice, beans, Pasta and Food Coloring. All of these make great fillers for sensory bins
- Sand. Another great item to fill sensory bins with.
- Insta-SNOW. Yes. please. Especially if it’s a weird winter and it should be snowing, but isn’t. Kids love this stuff.
- Sensory Trays, Bins or Tables. Any or all of these will work. I like having a sensory table for outside, and bins for inside.
- Kid’s Garden Tool Set. These are great for using in sensory bins, or for playing outside in the dirt or the sand.
- Learning Resources Fine Motor Tool Set. We use these for lots of different things and they are great for learning different fine motor skills.
- Toob Toys. My kids LOVE getting these in all varieties. They are probably one of our most used toys in our sensory bins. You can get people, animals, insects–You name it! They got it. We also use our Sea Life Creatures in sensory activities.
Kid’s Art Supplies
- Wiggly Googly Eyes. These can be used for almost anything, so it’s at the top of my list. My question for you is, what CAN’T you add googly eyes to?! I recommend getting the kind I linked to because it comes with a fun variety (eyelashes? Yes!). These are also fun to sneak into the kid’s lunches (what kid wouldn’t get a kick out of eyeballs on their apple? Such a cheap way to make life fun).
- Feathers. technically this should be under sensory supplies as well. Like Googly eyes, kid’s also have imaginations that enable feathers to have a purpose in all craft projects. They belong on paper sack puppets, they belong on coloring pages, and they most certainly belong on capes and masks!
- Tempura Paint, Jumbo Paint Brushes, and palettes. I finally gave in and bought an entire like 15 bottles of paint and we have used it for so many fun things! Add in some fun sponge painters (here and here) and it’s a jolly good time with paint. Our favorite activity was the wall murals, but we have also watered down the paint in squirt bottles to make fun sidewalk art, and we have used the sponge painters outside on the sidewalk as well.
- Easel Paper. This stuff is a must in our house because it allows us to projects of any kind. This is what we used for Wall Mural Painting, and it’s also great for doing life-sized tracings of the kids, or sending hugs in the mail.
- Foam Stickers. This is another thing we use for everything. We use them for coloring and art projects, we use them for tracing, we use them on cards and gifts, and I sometimes keep a few in the car and let them put them all over themselves when I am in a desperate moment 🙂 Foam stickers are also wonderful for categorizing by shape, color and categories. We have a huge tub of these filled with all different kinds and themes.
- Pom Poms. You are going to want these in all sizes. I just got the big variety pack since they are so cheap. Not only can these be added to all kinds of art projects, they also work great in sensory tubs, AND there are a lot of learning printables out there that use pom poms. These are great for quiet time activities and busy bags. See what I did with them here: Magnetic Pom Pom Printables
- Craft Body Parts. These are really fun for using with play dough, sand, slime, etc. It takes you activity to the next notch and allows kids to make little people/creatures with their creations!
- Play Dough. Whether or not you make your own is up to you, no one is going to judge. At least you know I won’t. Sometimes there is time for DIY and some
daysyears there just isn’t. But what you NEED to do is use Play Dough Mat Printables with your play dough! They take play dough from that boring “why did I pull all this out so that it could be played with for 2 minutes” kind of activity, to a “wow my child is learning and playing and it’s lasting more than 15 minutes” kind of activity. I think you know what I mean. If you don’t, Please oh please check out this page where you can find all kinds of free play dough mat printables.
- Do a Dot Markers. These rock. We used these when we did wall mural painting, but there are also a bunch of fun printables out there specifically for these markers (pom pom printables would also work for these). If you want a forever’s-worth of activities at your fingertips, go here: over 200 free Do a Dot Printables
- Pipe Cleaners. There are lots of ideas (as well as printables) for using these in different kids activities. They are also great for keeping hidden in the car! They make no mess and they can entertain in those desperate moments when you need to stop a fight. Hand them some pipe cleaners and let their imaginations go wild. You could even tell them certain shapes and figures to create with them if you are feeling ambitious.
Manipulatives/Busy Bag Items
If you have followed my busy bags posts, you know that I love using manipulatives to make busy bags. I keep these up high so that they are always a novelty. I probably have over 100 busy bags currently, and they are only used for church, restaurants, and other desperate moments. See my busy bags posts for some ideas on using some of these things:
Snap Cubes: Great for shapes, counting, sorting, measuring, graphing, or just creative play (building stuff).
All About Me Family Counters: great for counting, sorting, patterning and learning about families
Hidden Pictures. These are awesome for lots of different things, but my favorite is for the car because you don’t need anything extra to use them. Just hand them back when the kids get restless. Make sure and check out my post about making a Hidden Pictures Flip Book
Is it after midnight already?! I’m not even close to finished with this post, so come back next week for part two!