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Kids love art, and in turn, it’s a great thing for us to encourage those calls to creativity. Plus, it potentially really keeps them occupied for a while. That being said, we should also take time to be cautious about the art supplies we give our children (How many times have we said don’t sniff the glue!) and try to make their creative environment as healthy physically for them as it is mentally. DIY art supplies can really help with this mission.

The other great advantage to making art supplies at home is that they are often much cheaper, and it’s an activity that the kids themselves can learn to do, an interesting art project in and of itself. So, why not start with some basic items that most art kits include and find out just how to make this stuff — healthy, clean, cheap — ourselves. After all, we are the adults here, so we’ve got to make sure the kids know that we know our stuff.

A Gaggle of Homemade Glue

Is there anything more basic to kids’ arts and crafts projects than glue? It’s been a staple for kindergarten and elementary material lists since, one might securely guess, glue was available for purchase. Many glues are consciously non-toxic these days, including top brands like Elmer’s, to the tune of actually being able to eat them. However, in an effort to minimize plastic waste, save money, and simply be capable, it’s worth making glue at home, and there are many options with natural ingredients found in most kitchens.

  • Flour: Mix flour and water into something the consistency of thick pancake batter. This is a good one for paper crafts, like papier-mâiché.
  • Corn Starch: More like a paste, this one requires water (3/4 cup), corn starch (1/4 cup), corn syrup (2 tablespoons) and white vinegar (1 teaspoon).
  • Rice: Using the stickiest rice available, boil it with four cups of water to one cup of rice until the mixture is like porridge. Let it cool and then blend it smooth. Store in the fridge.

A Palette of Homemade Paints

While crayons and color pencils are probably slightly more convenient and commonly used, they hardly bring the same fun, i.e. mess, to an art project as do paints. But, paint, especially the way kids use it, can be expensive, and they aren’t always the safest thing for those taste-curious children to sample. In other words, it makes sense to try to make some ourselves, saving a little money and making sure they are truly kid-friendly. It’s not so hard to do, and there are lots of options.

  • Watercolors: Baking soda (4 tablespoons), white vinegar (2 tablespoons), light corn syrup (1/2 teaspoon), corn starch (2 tablespoons) and food coloring combine to make solid watercolors that are perfect for art time.
  • Puffy Paint: When it’s time to really blow the kids’ minds, make some puffy paint with self-rising flour (1 tablespoon), food coloring, salt (1 tablespoon) and water (1/4 teaspoon to start). Pop the picture in the microwave and it’ll puff up.

A Choice of Homemade Chalks

Nothing says fun quite like getting to write and color all over places that are normally off-limits for such activities, such as the driveway. So, it’s no wonder that “sidewalk” chalk is now widely available in toy aisles. This chalk can, of course, then lead to all sorts of other activities like hopscotch and relays races. While we could just buy them, we could also make them and save cash, as well as get yet another fun activity out of the chalk experience.

  • Cornstarch and Toilet Tube Mold: Again, mix a bit of corn starch and water (equal parts) and add some food coloring, and spoon the mixture into old toilet paper rolls (line them with wax paper). Allow it to dry for twelve hours, and that’s chalk.
  • Plaster of Paris: Unless we are experienced DIY crafters, many of us won’t have plaster of Paris, but it makes for a firmer chalk. Color water (1/2 cup) with paint or food coloring and mix it with plaster of Paris (3/4 cup). Use the same cardboard tube method (aluminum foil, wrapping paper, and paper towels are also all good sources). Then, let it dry for twelve hours.

These are a great start to DIY crafting for the kids, and by and large, they are often safer, cheaper, greener alternatives, as well as provide a tinge of self-empowerment for parents and kids alike. Other handy DIY projects to encourage creativity could include play dough and recycled paper. Now, go get creative … or, help the kids get creative.

Image source: focus_bell/Shutterstock