Essential Craft Supplies
1. Colored Paper - If you end up with a lot of black and brown, you can buy colored chalk or other things for the children to color on these papers.
2. Crayons - Crayons are a must. You don’t need to sharpen them just tear the paper away at the ends. You can use the broken ones to make new crayons, even multi-colored crayons. You can also tear the paper all the way off the broken crayons and use them to rub over objects underneath a paper to have an outline of the image. These also look great when you use watercolor paints over the crayon.
I always use Crayola. I’ve tried cheaper brands but they don’t work as well.
3. Markers - Magic markers dry out pretty quickly, but they are essential. I like to buy highlighter markers. They’re not really made for children, but they work so well. They last longer than the regular kid's markers, and they look a lot better when they color with them because if they go over the lines the lines still see through. Children can’t color so much that you can’t tell what they have colored. Also when you color over one color it makes another color. For example, if you color over yellow with the pink marker, you get orange. They are really fun to use. They come in quit a few colors now. I like the Accent brand by Sanford. I wouldn’t letter kids younger than six use them though.
4. Tape - Some teachers have written me and said that they like to use the double-sided tape with very young children.
5. Masking Tape - I use masking tape a lot, especially to set up roads and games on the floor on carpet. It pulls right off when you are done playing. (Blue painter's tape also works very well. It is made so that it can be pulled off of things without leaving the sticky residue.
6. Colored Pencils – Crayola work best.
7. Watercolor Paint – Make sure you buy children’s watercolor paint only.
8. Play Dough - for little kids – I don’t buy this, I make it myself. I don’t know if it is any cheaper to make though. Always buy Crayola play dough. It lasts longer. You can find a play dough recipe here. I save the cans from the Crayola play dough to store the homemade dough. Ziplock bags also work well.
9. Fun Foam Shapes
11. Craft Sticks – jumbo and regular-sized craft sticks can be used for many crafts and activities.
12. Child Paint – I don’t use much paint in class except for the water color paints (and not very often) because they are so messy and parents don’t like to see their children’s best clothes ruined. If you buy paint, make sure you also have smocks. We only let one of two children paint at a time.
13. Glue - I only buy Elmer’s Glue because the other brands don’t work as well. You can buy a big bottle and refill the smaller bottles of glue to save money. The smaller bottles work better because the bigger ones dry out and get spilled. For younger children, you can pour a little glue in a lid and have them dip Q-tips into the glue instead of using the bottles of glue because they always use way too much. It’s also good to have some Aleene’s Tacky glue around for project that are heaving and don’t work with Elmers. (Buy the small bottles because it dries out quickly too.) Also a glue gun and glue sticks are essential, but I only use these at home. If you take one to Sunday school make sure you use only the low temp kind.
I also like to use the craft stick glue with the younger children but even then they tend to waste them and unwind them all the way. These also dry out very quickly.
Other Important Things
1. Brown and White Lunch Bags - to make puppets, and decorate as a gift bag
2. Yarn – People from your church can bring in left over yarn.
3. Material Scraps – People in your church can bring in left over material scraps
4. Pipe Cleaners
5. Googly Eyes - I have a container with lots of different sizes
6. Felt Squares
7. Poster Board
8. News Print Paper
9. Bulletin Board Paper
Garage Sale Items
I find lots of good stuff at garage sales – Here in Las Vegas we have them year round. You can also make up a wish list of crafts supplies and hand it out to the people in your church. You should be able to get a lot of these things without even going to garage sales.
1. Pine Cones – To make bird feeders
2. Sea Shells - decorate things
3. Beads - I have gone to big sales where they sale a bag of clothes for $1.00. I will pick clothes with pretty buttons and then stuff a bag. You can use the buttons and material for crafts. You can use the material to glue onto a coat shape for the coat of many colors. I also have a pattern to make a quilt square. Each child makes one square and then you put them altogether to make one big quilt. This project can be great for any age. You can use it for the “Working together theme or other theme.
6. Baskets – Children can decorate a napkin to place in the basket and then add cookies or another treat and give to shut-ins or use for Thanksgiving.
8. Small Toys for Prizes - I have a whole set of McDonald’s tiny stuffed animals that I use for the Noah’s ark theme that I picked up at garage sales.
9. Old Magazines – especially animal magazines. Children can cut out pictures of animals and people to glue onto other things.
10. Play Dough Cookie Cutters and Small Sand Toys
11. Wrapping Paper and Cards – Children can use the wrapping paper to wrap things they made for their parents. They can use the cards to make new cards.
12. Rubber Stamps
Saving Money on Craft Supplies
1. Ask parents to bring in old play necklaces that their children are no longer using. You can use the beads from the necklaces for other craft projects.
2. Pull apart old silk flowers and use only the silk parts -- petals and leaves.
3. You can find all kinds of supplies at garage sales - pinecones, beads, yarn, paper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, old cards, etc.
4. Reuse stuffing from old stuffed animals.
5. The best time to buy crayons, tape, and markers is right after school starts.
If you have anything to add please let me know and I will publish it on this page. Where do you buy your craft supplies? Have I left anything off this list? How do you save money on craft supplies? We would love to hear from you?
Tips for Preparing Crafts and Activities
1. When cutting multiple shapes for crafts, I stack the pages and staple the pages together in several places. Then I only have to cut once! The staples hold the pages together as you cut so they all turn out pretty close to the same. Depending on how thick your paper is (copy, construction, cover, etc) determines how many you can cut at once. If I am just cutting the shape and don't need detail on each piece, I make one copy or each stack…saves on copying costs. Lydia