With my kids home this summer and me returning to work, it's important to have plenty of activities to keep them occupied during the day. My kids love arts and crafts, but creating any art project is always a project in itself. Crayons over here, construction paper hidden there, glue sticks nowhere to be found, not to mention no really good work surface other than our kitchen table. Armed with some Rubbermaid storage bins and a desire for organization, I decided to turn a section of our garage into an arts and crafts nook.
Our garage is a bit unique - it's detached from the house but also partially finished. It has heat, drywall, and canned lighting. We've since painted the floor with epoxy paint and purchased removable foam flooring to occasionally use it as an extra play space (aka "the kid cave"). So, the basic foundation is ready to go.
With not much time (whatever I could accomplish in between the baby's naps) and no budget (whatever I could scrounge up from other areas around the house), I went to work. Here are some of the things that helped me the most and are key for creating a creative space:
1. Purge: You'd be surprised what junk you've been holding on to for 10 years. I went through stacks and stacks of old papers and junkie scraps that I was able to throw out. It freed up all of the storage bins that I used to hold the kids' crafts, so I didn't have to purchase any.
2. Containers, containers, and more containers: As my grandmother used to say, everything has its place. Each child has a bin to store their completed art work. Different media are organized into rolling stacked drawers, with everything that is needed from start to finish for an art project - brushes, rags, paper towels, canvases, you name it. Paints are in one drawer, construction paper another. Stickers get their own space as does play doh.
3. On the surface: A simple folding table from Costco works as a great craft surface that is dedicated to art. In a pinch, it folds in half and is cleared away. I purchased rolls of craft paper (doubles as holiday wrapping paper) from Home Depot and Menard's to cover the table from paint messes.
4. Label everything: I used address labels and clearly labeled each drawer for the kids, so there is no excuse for not knowing where to find supplies, as well as clean-up afterward.
5. Chalk it up: I love chalkboard paint, as you've seen it on other posts of mine. We painted chalkboard paint along the bottom half of one of the walls, so the kids can always pick up some sidewalk chalk and have at it. We've even played giant tic tac toe games on the wall.
6. Re-purpose: I had some sheets of pegboard that I had painted black years ago for mounting some of my own art projects. I took them out again for mounting the kids' art. An unused sweater drying rack now serves as an art drying rack. Educational ones that you see in classrooms can run several hundred dollars, so I strung twine from each end of my drying rack to create "shelves".
7. Inspire: Every space needs a little extra color. We hung decorative tissue paper balls and a "Create Art" saying along the wall to inspire the little artists. I even hung a bunch of my old art along the opposing wall.
No sooner did I finish labeling the last bin than the kids were into the paints and canvases creating their masterpieces. When my son emerged from the garage with three posters saying "We Love Arts & Crafts", I knew this project was a success.
What are some creative ways you've re-purposed places in your home for kids' activities? Leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear your ideas.
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