Arts & Crafts On A Shoestring.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to keep children amused doing art and craft activities.

When I was childminding; I used to use the back of junk mail (which is often blank on the reverse) as drawing paper. The inside cardboard of cereal boxes is great to use for painting. Put an old adult shirt over clothes for protection. Another tip is to buy paint brushes from market stalls; rather than specialist shops.

I used to keep old magazines, holiday brochures and greetings cards for the children to cut pictures from as well as egg boxes, yogurt cartons, cardboard tubes from kitchen and toilet rolls and plastic milk bottle tops for junk modelling; which can be painted the following day when dry.

My husband said I never threw anything out (which was pretty much true) as a ribbon from a gift can be used for weaving or making a collage. Once I even purchased a feather duster in a bargain store and stripped the feathers for a collage!

My biggest success was making treasure boxes at Christmas, which the children loved.

Give each child an empty shoe box (most shops will gladly give these away at no cost) encourage the children to decorate with pictures (I supplied these from the previous years Christmas cards) and stickers; bought cheaply from a bargain store. Later use a solution of two parts water, one part PVA glue mixed together to cover the box. This not only helps the pictures to stay put; but acts like a varnish.

When I was a child minder I used to use these boxes to put all the ‘bits and bobs’ that the children made in the run up to Christmas and let them take them home on Christmas Eve. (I usually added some chocolate coins and a small gift too)

Brass rubbing is another easy and cheap activity; you can buy purpose made plastic templates, but many household objects can work too for example; coins and keys. I’ve even used the product name on white goods, which is usually textured. On dry days why not try brass rubbing the bark on trees and collect leaves to take home and use later?

Bags of felt off cuts can be purchased cheaply and as felt doesn’t fray; it’s great for making items such as egg cosies, needle cases and even a glasses case.

Why not have a go at making some playdough? All you need is

1 cup of flour( the cheap value range is ideal)

Half a cup of salt,

2 teaspoons of cream of tartar

1 cup of water (add food colouring to this and it won’t stain later)

Put everything into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until it forms a dough; BE SURE TO LET IT COOL BEFORE GIVING TO CHILDREN. Add rolling pins and pastry cutter shapes and let them have fun.

Older children may prefer salt dough; which is just as easy to make and as it doesn’t need cooking they can help to create it

1 cup flour

1 cup salt

Half cup of water

Just mix it altogether using your hands.

Leave creations in a warm room for a few hours to harden.

I hope these ideas have provided some food for thought.


As always questions/comments are welcome and I will respond as soon as I can

8 Comments on “Arts & Crafts On A Shoestring.

  1. Brilliant blog with great ideas. My favourites were the shoe boxes Decorated for Xmas and the instructions for making the play dough. I’ve used old greeting cards for making labels for presents for years, it’s amazing how easy it is to make really nice ones. I punch a hole in the corner ready to thread pretty ribbons to attach the label. It’s good to keep children happy using things that would normally been thrown away. Well done Karen

  2. I absolutely love the idea of a shoebox made all crafty by the kids themselves to keep their art in or a present. I bet my kids grandparents in particular would love this. #ltitlemakes

  3. I had a go at making playdough for my eldest but alas she wasn’t too keen on it. I’m unsure whether it was a phase she was going through or not. #littlemakes

  4. we’ve always recycled stuff for the kids to do crafts with and as a teacher i encourage parents to bring unwanted recyclable items to school for the students to use, I no longer make play doh as i’ve given up working with small children, but then i mostly palmed it off on the TA to make with the kids as an activity

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