Friday, July 25, 2008

Cheap Art: Beautiful Junk

We LOVE art time around here, and with two preschoolers who don't understand the concept of "use it sparingly," we really burn through our supplies quickly. So in order for my kids to be creative, I have to get creative with materials. Okay, the coffee mug on the end is what gets Mommy through our beautiful art sessions in the morning!

Here is our "Beautiful Junk" Art Box (these are for collages, inventions, or whatever inspires them):

My 4 1/2 year-old son loves the empty containers for creating cool stuff like rockets, robots, food for his kitchen, etc. For a while, he saved every cereal box for his unnamed "project," piling them all over the kids' craft table, until I finally had to dump them in the recycling bin in the dark of night.

Hey, you know you do it, too! My husband and I are like the sneaky nighttime bandits when it comes to purging junky toys, favorite WAY-outgrown clothes, and random collections of things: rocks, sticks, acorns, boxes, etc.

Anyway, back to our beautiful junk. We use the pasta for stringing on necklaces or adding to a collage. I try to find interesting shapes and colors. We also have a bin of pasta tubes...I'm not sure where that one disappeared to.

My mom, a former preschool teacher of 12 years, picked up some Easter basket filler when it went on clearance one year and gave it to my son for his art projects. He LOVED it! It's the paper kind, not plastic, so it glues onto paper really well (and it won't hurt if my toddler gets a bit in her happens!) Now I pick up a couple of bags of Easter grass/filler after Easter every's super-cheap.
Do you have any frugal favorites for art time?


  1. Thank you for the frugal and very practical art/craft ideas! We live in Mongolia and I'm always frustrated with the lack of nice craft products here. You've given me some good ideas!


  2. I need to find some more beautiful junk around my house. I'm sure my kids would have oodles of ideas for all that stuff!

    We also love paper plates and lunch bags (puppets), and grocery bags for vests and masks.

    One more easy idea, we color our noodles before using them for stringing. Just use a little food coloring and rubbing alcohol, mix together and they look gorgeous once dried.

    Thanks for the motivation!

  3. Great ideas, Erin! We love paper bags, too! And paper plates are super cheap...the plain white kind with the ruffled edge. They make great masks, flowers, puppets, etc. We also use a lot of yarn...and pipe cleaners...and curling ribbon...and straws...and stickers...and tape...oh, what fun!

  4. Donna, I am totally inspired!!! Some of the things you use seem so obvious, but I haven't thought "outside the box" enough. Our art supplies are very conventional. (Of course, my kids find ways to make everything art--markers on the wall, poop on the rug, my make-up all over themselves, etc.) Thanks for the great ideas!


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