Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Art materials are expensive. Children go through them at speed. But did you know that you have many ‘free’ things at home that can be used for art projects. Here is a list of ten things you probably have never considered giving them to use. If your little artists have an art box, you can add to and replenish the materials that they have with no expense and just a little bit of time and effort.
‘Paint’ #1’ - Don’t throw out ‘wasted’ markers. Gather them up until you have a bundle. Arrange similar colours together e.g. all yellows together. Take the lids off and pop them all into a little jar or tub of water, point side down (only use a small amount of water). Leave them to sit for a few days and you will notice that the water begins to change colour, giving you watercolour type paint.
‘Paint’ #2 - Food colouring. This can be used neat or diluted to create an inky type of paint.
‘Paint’ #3 - Tea and coffee staining. Mixing varying amounts of tea and coffee with water will produce different shades of browns. This is great for staining paper to make it look aged.
Cereal boxes - these are such a versatile alternative to paper. Cut and keep the big sides of cereal boxes. These are more absorbent than paper and so are great to be used for painting or sticking.
Patterned paper - really useful for design and collage. Next time you open a bill or circular, look inside the envelope. Often they have a lovely pattern printed inside. Cut the envelope open to reveal great fancy paper that can be cut up and used by your children.
Newspapers/magazines/catalogues - Spend a few minutes cutting photos from these as a starting prompt for a drawing or for use in collage.
Greeting cards - Any sort of cards that arrive into your house have the potential to be used in art projects. Cut them in half, saving the front. They have so many uses. They can even be used as a collage creating a new greeting card that can be gifted to your nearest and dearest on their next occasion.
Gift bags and paper bags - these come in such a range of colours and surfaces that they have huge potential. Smaller bags can be turned into puppets. Bigger bags can be cut and the insides used as a page for drawing/painting on. Some have beautiful colours which can be used for collage.
Rainbow crayons - take old and broken crayons. Using silicone baking moulds if you have them, if you don’t have them, paper bun cases, in a baking tin, will work just as well. Place your choice of colour crayons in each shape or bun case. You can use similar colours or a rainbow of colours. Don’t overfill. Pop into a medium oven for 10/15 minutes until they have melted. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and then remove from the mould. You have new crayons that look great and are fun to use.
Old makeup brushes/sponges - clean old makeup brushes, of any and all sizes and give them to your children to paint with. Mascara wands and makeup sponges can be used too. Just make sure to give them a good wash first.