My daughter is a craftoholic. Give the girl some glitter, glue, a candy bar wrapper and VOILA! she will have a magic carpet or a cape for a unicorn or a bumblebee’s tent… You get the idea. I’m not sure where she gets this crafting prowess. Certainly not from me. I’ll blame her artsy Grandma Judy for her creative–and totally awesome–spirit.
But as any mom of a crafty kid will tell you, the craft stuff can very quickly get out of control. I have a small house which, for many years, has had no clearly designated craft area. My kids used the small table in the kitchen for crafting time, but most of the craft supplies were actually located upstairs, where I had more storage space. So when my kids wanted to, say, use finger paint or Play Dough, they had to trek up and down the stairs several times to both get out and put away the supplies. The bottom line: NOT productive. The even lower bottom line: not much crafting, since accessing the supplies was a pain.
Then I read a blog post by my high school friend Amanda, who is now a professional organizer, and I got inspired. Amanda recommended having the craft supplies and workspace in the same area, and having all craft supplies visual. This made perfect sense, but was a challenge in my small kitchen. However, I was determined to make it work. Here’s how.
First, I needed to minimize the number of craft supplies. I went through the stash upstairs and made a few executive decisions. Among them:
1. Coloring books are not that creative, nor do my kids particularly care for them. Given the choice, they will almost always choose to draw on plain white paper. Goodbye, coloring books. (Note: I saved a small selection for keeping them quiet at church, restaurants, etc.)
2. Stickers, you fall under the same not-so-creative-or-loved category. Sorry, big roll of Disney princess stickers, it’s not a fairy tale ending for you today. If my kids decide they love stickers again, we will buy more. No sweat.
3. The Crayola apocalypse is not coming. Hence, my kids do not need to stockpile a million coloring utensils. My favorite crayons for kids are the twistable kind that don’t break. I saved those and donated the many, many extra boxes and bags of crayons we had. Ditto for colored pencils and markers. My kids simply don’t need that many. And if they dry out or break? A simple trip to Target will replace them.
4. Leftover craft supplies from earlier projects probably need to take a hike. Random bits of felt and foam? Adios. If we want to make a felt project again, we can easily buy more.
5. Opened containers of Play Dough usually contain a mish-mash of different colors on their way to a slow, crumbly decline. Since Play Dough is about the easiest craft supply to make from scratch, I tossed all our old Play Dough, keeping only the brand new containers. When they dry up, we will make our own (or buy it if we’re feeling lazy… after all, the Play Dough apocalypse is no closer than the Crayola one.)
By the time I had made all these decisions, my craft supply stock was much lower. I also had a nice bag of supplies to donate to teacher friends and a local kids’ art gallery. With my minimizing done, I moved on toward creating the visual craft station Amanda recommended.
I setup the craft table with a container of plain paper and mesh cups of utensils.
Then I used a clear shoe organizer for all the other supplies: paint, stamps, glitter, glue, Play Dough, scissors, etc. Everything fit and because this organizer is vertical, it didn’t take up any extra space in my cozy little kitchen!
I cannot say how awesome it has been to have all our craft supplies and work station in one place. The kids have done more painting, coloring, cutting, and gluing in the past few days than usual. They’ve also been able to clean up more easily because it is obvious where everything goes. No more trekking up and down the stairs – ah! Craft on, young ones, craft on!