Kid Activities
1000's of Ideas for Childcare Professionals & Teachers!

Practical Money Saving Tips for Crafting or Working with Kids!

August 21, 2009 18:43 by Barbara Shelby

 

What have you discovered to make those dollars stretch, your work days easier, or the children's projects last longer and arrive home in one piece?

We all have ideas that have been discovered or invented along the way! This category is the place to share some of those wonderfully inspired or resourceful practices. If you have a “Frugal or inspired Idea” you would like to share, please send it to Barb Shelby via the ‘Contact page’. You will receive credit for any idea or activity used on this site. Thank You…

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INSPIRED ART RELATED DEAS...

10% OFF AT Discount SCHOOL SUPPLY!
The Afterschool Alliance partnership with Discount School Supply gives friends of afterschool a TEN PERCENT DISCOUNT on all school supply orders.
To receive the discount, put the code A4A (it stands for Afterschool 4 All) in the pink promotional box when ordering supplies at discountschoolsupply.com or mention it when you call 1-800-627-2829 to place an order.

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MAKE YOUR OWN BEAN BAGS OUT OF PAPER NAPKINS! Cute!!! Image is courtesy of School in your Home.

All you do is crumple up some napkins into a tight ball and then wrap another napkin around and secure in back with a rubber band. You can color the napkin with water-based markers before wrapping it or after. Experiment to see which works better. These inexpensive beanbags make for a fun activity for all ages--preschool and up! They would also make nice puppet heads!

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 Start collecting PAPER TOWEL TUBES! When children have something they want to transport without wrinkling, tubes work great!

TRANSPORTING CHILDREN'S ART WORK...

 Children can decorate a paper towel tube with paint, markers, glitter, stickers, construction paper and crayons. This becomes a colorful carrying tube. Roll their pictures up and put inside o take home or to class. This also works to get homework "projects" back and forth. As some of you may have read...I have 13 grandchildren! This is what I do when they have coloring and paint projects to take home. Works great! Barb

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PIZZA BOX ART PORTFOLIO
Ask your local pizza shops to donate some unused pizza boxes for your program. (You may need to contact several to get one for each child) They may charge you a quarter per box. Each child can decorate the box & write their name on it.
CHILDREN'S ART WORK WILL BE SAVED--AND BOXES STACK NEATLY...
At times, if a purchased pizza is immediately removed from the box--the box may be clean enough to recycle!

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PRESERVING CHALK DRAWINGS...
Children love to color with chalk, but their pictures can be ruined if the chalk smears. Protect children’s creations by coating them lightly with hair spray.

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TIP TO REMEMBER WHEN PAINTING EGGS (or Clear Christmas Ball Ornaments)
For a sturdy stand to hold the egg while you paint it, use an empty toilet paper tube. Prop the egg on top and decorate.

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NOT MUCH SPACE IN YOUR PROGRAM TO HANG ART WORK?

1. Take a long roll of wide ribbon and at the top of the wall near the ceiling, securely tape the ribbon to the wall.
2. Next tape the ribbon at the bottom of the wall.
3. 
Staple children's art work and pictures vertically down the ribbon.
4. Do as many ribbon lines as you have room...
5. Regularly update art work.

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MAKE AN ART PALLETE


Directions: Glue several milk caps to the inside of the plastic lid. When painting...fill each lid with a different color.

 

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TIP: When you go outside---KEEP SOME CHALK IN YOUR POCKET!!!

Ideas...

• Have child lay on cement. Outline the body shape in an ACTION pose...fill in the body with realistic clothing and details.

Playing a game with boundaries? Pull out the chalk to mark them on the concrete.

Mark off broad jumps and leaps!

Outline shoes. Who has the largest or smallest foot?

Hopscotch

A group mural

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DISPOSABLE PAINT PALETTES Save thoroughly cleaned Styrofoam food trays for the children’s painting projects. Use a teaspoon of different colored paints on this paint palette rather than using a cup. Easy clean up!

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 MAKE PAINT STICKS OUT OF Q-TIPS!

  • Place one drop of food coloring on the end of a Q-tip. Allow Q-Tips to dry for 30 - 60 minutes. You can use a pegboard to hold the cotton swabs upright as you drop the coloring on the cotton ends.( Do a LOT of Q-tips at a time and store them in Zip-Lock baggies.).
  • When ready to paint all you need are smocks, paper, and a bowl of water. Dip the Q-Tip end with the color in water briefly (The less time in the water -- the brighter the color) A great way to use imagination!

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MAKE YOUR OWN SHAPED SPONGES

  • Shaped sponges can be easily made to go along with any theme or art activity.
  • Another idea is to purchase condensed flat sponges at your local craft supply store. You can then draw a shape on the flat surface and cut out. When these sponges are submerged in water the shape is easy to use.
  • Younger kids often use them to paint, while older kids use them to print--- creating their own patterns and designs. They can also be used in water to make prints on the sidewalk.

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 QUICK PAINT TIPS

  • Makeup sponges are great for stenciling.
  • Put your paintbrushes, bristles up, in Pringles cans, or store upside down in floral foam.
  • Protect your thin paintbrush bristles by storing them in small straws.
  • Use a tooth brush holder with the four or more holes at the top and store your pencils and pens in them. Or better yet, put your paintbrushes in them, bristles up.
  • Take a margarine tub or yogurt cup and cut a x in the top, middle of the lid to hold a paint brush; fill it with water---if the kids or yourself spill it, it will only spill a little rather then the whole paint cup.

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Tip: Wrapping Gifts? Look at the creative ideas in the Craft Gift Category: Wrapping Gifts

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INSTEAD OF BRUSHES...PAINT WITH THESE...

  • Squeeze bottles
  • Eyedroppers
  • Fly swatters
  • Roll-on deodorant bottles
  • Bingo daubers/markers
  • Spray bottles
  • Marbles
  • Golf Balls 
  • Spoons and forks
  • String
  • Cooked spaghetti noodles
  • Yarn
  • Bark
  • Combs
  • Brushes
  • Tooth brushes (Flick the bristles)
  • Feathers
  • Ice
  • Foods
  • Cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • Soapless scouring pads
  • Sponges
  • Shoe polish applicators
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Items from nature with a flat side: shells, rocks, leaves, twigs, branches, etc.
  • Bottle caps
  • Jar lids
  • Crumpled Saran wrap
  • Corn cobs
  • Koosh balls
  • Balloons
  • Plastic animals (feet)
  • Toy cars (roll the wheels through paint)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Candy "Peeps" in Spring
  • Hands, fingers, arms, toes, feet
  • Etc., etc.

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FOR THE PROGRAM & HOME ...

EGG CARTONS: GOOD FOR A LOT OF THINGS!
They have the hollowed out containers and then you can close the top!

  • *They make great throw-away CONTAINERS for GLUE AND PAINT.

*Keep SEWING SUPPLIES in it: needles, buttons, thread, safety pins, spools of thread, etc. (Easy for the kids to use when they need something!)

*Turn it UPSIDE DOWN. Punch holes in the 'bumps' and store scissors, pencils, pens, thin paint brushes, etc. for the kids. Again, it's easy access for them!

*Great for keeping items for CRAFT projects! Beads, shells, stickers, etc.

*Use as a SORTING BOX for coins, paper clips, brads, nails, screws, etc.

*How about covering one with pretty or bright paper---decorate it with macaroni, shells, stickers, etc. Use it for jewelry or ???!

*And of course...what about all those wonderful egg carton craft projects?!

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KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN…

If you look around you when out walking keep an eye out for pretty flowers you can dry, colorful rocks, odd shaped pieces of wood or other interesting objects. KEEP THEM IN A COLLECTION BOX...and before you know it you will have wonderful things to use in FUTURE craft projects. (Ask parents and kids to do the same!!!)

 

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MAKE YOUR OWN WIPE-OFF BOARDS
Cover a piece of heavy cardboard with CLEAR contact paper. Write on these using "over head" projector pens---Just wipe clean with a damp cloth as needed. Now you have your own "wipe off boards"!
From Cassie/Michigan

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START A BEAUTIFUL JUNK COLLECTION
Find a large box and label it "Beautiful Junk". Get in the habit of throwing into it any "garbage" or recyclables that the children might be able to re-use for crafts.
For example:

  • Magazines
  • Junk mail
  • Egg cartons
  • RIbbon
  • Wrapping paper
  • Toilet tissue tubes
  • Shoe boxes
  • Cereal boxes
  • Aluminum pie plates
  • Plastic containers
  • Lids
  • Pop bottles and caps
  • Fabric, yarn etc...
    Now you'll always have a supply of craft and building materials ready for rainy days...

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TIP: FREE WATER PLAY SQUIRT BOTTLES

Save all those liquid dishwashing & ketchup plastic containers.
When empty, clean them up and make great "squirt each other" bottles! Marvelous for water fun!  Put these on your wish list to parents to get a large supply!

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FOR CRITTER HUNTING CONTAINERS
Go to local tennis courts (clubs) and ask them to save the containers from the balls. Kids can decorate them with permanent markers then go outside and collect bugs. They are adorable and FREE. (From Mrs.Z.)

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32 WHITE BOARDS $12.00 (2008 price) 
My pre K class uses white boards, not the expensive ones but these are just like them.

From Home Depot or another store... buy a 4' X 8' sheet of shower board. The cost is $12.00, and cut them into 12" X 12" boards. I have my husband do this as the Home Depot saws will not make the boards even. I sand the edges to make sure they are not sharp and in about an hour I have 32 12" X 12" white boards. Of course you can also cut the boards larger if you wish!!!
White socks work great for erasers because you can take them home and bleach them.
This is from Child Care Lounge Volume 8 #13 ~ DeAnna Lopes, Pre K teacher

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ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO SAVE MONEY...

is to pick up an “END ROLL” OF PAPER from the offices of your LOCAL newspaper. (Smaller cities/towns...not large cities)

When a newspaper is printed, the paper that is used comes in a LARGE spool. At the end of a newspaper print run, quite often some of the spools will have a small percentage of the paper still on the roll, unused. Because it’s more expensive to have to stop the press and change the roll mid-printing, the people running the press will just remove that mostly-used roll (STILL WITH HUNDREDS OF SUARE FEET OF PAPER LEFT ON IT) and replace it with a full roll.

So what do they do with those leftover rolls? They hand them over to their front office, which sells them to the public for just a dollar or two (OR FREE). Stop by the office of your local newspaper and ask about end rolls.

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Idea: You know the OLD PAINT CHIP CARDS you used when you were trying to decide what color to paint? They can be turned into great gift tags or book marks...Put a hole in them with a hole puncher, string ribbon through them and tie them to your program made gifts.  Add them to your "Parent Wish List"!

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DOES YOUR STAFF GET TOGETHER FOR DAILY/WEEKLY/ or MONTHLY MEETINGS?

Post a sheet of paper where the kids won't see it. Each time a team member has a thought or challenge that needs to be addressed- write it on the sheet. This gives you an agenda to keep you on track and discuss topics as they pop-up during the day/week/month!

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CLEANING THINGS UP…

HERE ARE SOME IDEAS THAT I’VE COME ACROSS!
(From Jillian/Australia)

•Baby wipes are wonderful for wiping hands when needed, cleaning up the room, cleaning dry erase boards, cleaning spills in the room, getting off pencil marks on desks, and erasing transparencies. Not only do they smell good, they are non-toxic.

Tissues with lanolin make good wipes for all chalkboards and whiteboards.

Hair spray cleans dry erase boards and will get ink out of clothing. It also removes permanent marks from furniture. If the hair spray seems a bit sticky, spray with rubbing alcohol and wipe.

For removing crayon marks, just use baking soda and water and rub away.

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  Idea: WAX PAPER TABLE-TOP PROTECTOR
Put sheets of wax paper for table mat covers when working with clay or paint. Quick and easy clean up!

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MAKE BABY WIPES TO USE AT YOUR SITE!

Materials: 
10 cup container with lid (Rubbermaid)
1/2 roll of Bounty paper towels
2 TBSP of baby oil
2 TBSP of baby bath (Baby Magic)
2 cups of water

Cut the roll of paper toweling in half (electric knife work well) and remove the center cardboard. Mix the baby oil, water and Baby Magic and pour it over the top of paper towels. Pull the first towel up. Each roll of towels makes 2 containers of wipes.

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LAMINATE! LANINATE! LAMINATE!
Through out the year, you'll be posting many items that will be RE-HUNG/POSTED--year after year! Laminate those pages, posters, notices! Save time and energy each year.... The following year just put up PREVIOUS LAMINATED things!

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WINTER TIME TIP

 

PINE CONES If you're going to make anything out of pinecones such as ornaments, a wreath or center piece... 
First bake the cones on a foil-lined cookie sheet for about an hour at 200 degrees. This kills any bugs or spider mites (or who knows what else!) that live in them. This also allows the seeds to fall out. If you want the pine cone to close up again, just plunge it in cold water!

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M&M PURCHASE TIP When the Christmas Holidays are over--buy all the red/green mixture M&M candies you can. Often they are on sale at 50-75% off and you can use the red for Valentine's Day and save the green for St. Patrick's Day!

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 STORAGE

MAKE GIANT ENVELOPES
Need something to hold your large “flat” items? Make your own GIANT ENVELOPES by stapling together two large pieces of poster board. You can also punch a couple holes at the top and string yarn through the holes to hang these in a classroom closet.

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FREE SOURCES FOR ART SUPPLIES

Budgets for art supplies are tight at many children's programs. Local businesses often have items on their way to the trash bin... and they may be willing to donate them to your program as art supplies. Consider the following sources of wonderful art materials:

• Alteration Shops and Dressmakers: Fabric scraps, Spools, fabric ends, plastic spools, outdated books

Appliance Stores: Styrofoam packing material, cardboard boxes

Restaurant: Large transparent plastic jars, plastic dough buckets

Local Newspapers: Paper End-Rolls

Photography Stores/Framers: Empty film canisters, damaged mat board, centers from mat board frames

Department Stores: Display material, boxes, catalogs, broken jewelry, odd scarves, decorative materials

Flower Shops: Discarded cellophane, colored aluminum foil, dried plants and flowers

Printers/Copy Shops: White and colored papers, copy over-runs

Offices: Obsolete letterhead, order books, and notebooks

Carpet & Floor Stores: Carpet samples, tile samples

Bookstores: Posters, bookmarks

Yarn Shops: Samples of yarn and fabric, color samples, buttons, spools, catalogs, remnants

Supermarkets: Egg Cartons, boxes, paper bags, containers, fruit boxes, food posters, large-sized food shipping containers

Physician and Dentist Offices: Posters stressing healthy activities

Travel agencies: posters, outdated brochures

Paint and Wallpaper Stores: Wallpaper sample books, color folders, paint swatches

Tennis Clubs: Used tennis balls and ball containers

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MISCELLANEOUS...

FIRST AID EMERGENCY COLD PACKS
Materials:
Light Corn Syrup
Quart size freezer bags

Fill freezer bags 3/4 full with syrup.
Seal the bag and place it inside another freezer bag.
Place in freezer. If desired add food coloring to the syrup. 

After each use, either replace the outside freezer bag with a clean bag-- or sanitize the original out bag for reuse

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LUNCH TIPS...

• DON'T THROW AWAY...those little packages of plastic silverware that you get from fast-food restaurants. They're very useful for those brown bag lunches and field trips.

• NO MORE SOGGY PB&J SANDWICHES FOR LUNCH...
Are you making peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches that will be packed up and sitting a good part of the day in your kids' lunch bags?  If so, the result can be a soggy mess.
Solution...spread peanut butter on both slices of bread and then spread on the jelly. The peanut butter doesn't allow the jelly to soak through to the bread.

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TENNIS BALL MASSAGER...

Materials:
2 Old Tennins Balls
Sport Sock

You won't believe how great this feels! It really does get out all thee knots in your back! Take a sports sock and place two tennis balls into the sock and tie the top of the sock up with either a elastic bandor a knot. Lay on top of it on the floor and roll yourself back and forth. You could also have someone rub it over your back, legs, etc. Use one ball to work on specific kinks...

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