Monday, June 3, 2013

Rainy Days And Mondays: Craft Closet Basics

Woke up to a dreary outside this morning.  It is the last week of school at our house, with summertime fast approaching and The Peanut is ready and waiting for a nice break in the action.

This morning's rain is a good reminder that I need to reassess the contents of our craft closet and our rainy day cupboard.  Keeping both well stocked with activity starters and crafting basics is a great way for all of us to maintain some level of sanity on the inevitable bad weather days of summer.

Because we didn't have a horrible winter this year, a lot of the project starters that I had gotten for snow day activities never got pulled out, so I have several "things to do" kits and starter bits and pieces already on hand.

But I am always on the lookout for something new to replenish my stash.  Ever since I read about the "rainy day cupboard" in Sarah Ban Breathnach's Mrs. Sharp's Traditions: Reviving Victorian Family Celebrations of Comfort & Joy, I have tried to keep things on hand to get any crafting day started. Who wants to have to run out in bad weather for glue sticks, right?

Here's what you can do to start your own:

-  Make sure you have basics:  pens, crayons, colored pencils, plain white paper, colored paper, glue sticks, a big roll of white craft paper.  That should get you through pretty much any miserable weather day all by itself.  We have the bits and pieces in bins that I have labeled with my label maker so that clean-up is easier for small people (including friends who come over to visit).  We also have a bin filled with assorted scissors that cut patterned borders (rick rack, scalloped, etc.), hole punches,and all sorts of other crafting basics, including mini glue dots.

- We also made a cute supplies organizer for The Peanut's desk, that keeps things handy while still having them be tidy:

-  Whenever you are at a craft store or big box retailer (like Target or Walmart), peruse the clearance areas or end caps near the kids crafting supplies.  There are almost always markdowns on little kits for coloring or easy-to-put-together crafts, and oftentimes basic craft supplies go on sale as well, especially if there is a change in packaging.  If you see something you think your kids might like at a great price, snag it -- clearance items disappear quickly.

- Speaking of clearance items, I have picked up a lot of American Girl craft kits on sale through the years on their website clearance area, and also at our local Sam's Club after holidays.  They usually have an awesome crafting idea book in them along with some basic supplies -- we have a little library of the books that we pull out for ideas, even after all the kit's crafting supplies have been used up. 

- We have also picked up an assortment of crafting books from used book stores, clearance bins at the craft store and even yard sales through the years, along with pulling ideas from magazines as we find them, too, and placing them in a crafting binder.  Sometimes, a couple of hours of just perusing craft ideas to pick out something to do can fill up a rainy afternoon all by itself.

-  Keep your craft closet stocked with a nice assortment of colored and printed cardstock, as well as stickers, glue sticks and all sorts of assorted random stuff that you scrounge together from around the house.  Random buttons are an especially fun item to have on hand.  So are pipe cleaners.  I keep a plastic bin with a lid handy as a "grab bag" bin, and pop random assorted bits and bobbles into it as I find them during cleaning times -- you'd be surprised what can make for a great "build a robot" or "design a new bracelet" add-on.

- If you have a stack of old magazines in the recycling bin, let your kids go through them and pull out funny or interesting pictures for a "picture file."  We have an accordion file that The Peanut knows is always kept stocked with animal pictures and other funny moments from magazine shoots and advertisements.  National Geographic magazines are especially awesome for this sort of thing, along with parenting magazines.  She uses them to make collages, and also whenever she pulls a "write and illustrate a story" stick from our "I'm Bored" jar.  They are great for dioramas and puppet shows, too.  I've also started pulling some out for the library at school, and plan to laminate them as a "tell the story of what is going on in this picture" exercise starter for the kids -- which you could also do for your own kids in your house, taking turns to tell a story out loud or write one down, either way.  A great activity is to just sit down with a big stack of magazines and pull pictures from them to replenish your file -- we do this all the time when we get a free day, usually while watching a Disney movie.

- We also have a few science experiments for kids books, as well as nature crafts and things to do to learn about the world around us.  Anything that promotes learning and is fun is fair game for a rainy day at our house.  Since The Peanut got her microscope, that has also broadened our experimental horizons a bit.

That is at least a start for your "rainy day cupboard" or "craft closet." If you have ideas of other things you like to keep in your own craft closet, please share in the comments.  I am always on the lookout for something fun for The Peanut.

(YouTube -- The Carpenters singing their classic, Rainy Days and Mondays.)


Toby Wollin said...

Here's another source of great pictures: travel brochures, especially from interesting museums. We just got back from Seattle and Salt Lake and I checked out the travel and museum brochures (many have great maps!!) wherever we went.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Toby - that is such an awesome idea. We get National Geographic Traveler magazine every month and often pull some of the most gorgeous pictures from it for our little art adventures. :)