As homeschool parents, it can be easy to get bogged down in a whirlwind of math facts and essays, forgetting that our students also need time to be creative. Art has a number of benefits for students. It relieves stress and encourages creative thinking. For young students, art develops fine motor skills and helps make vital connections in their brains. And art can encourage family bonding. There is nothing quite like gathering together and working on an art project or creating a huge mural together on butcher or craft paper laid out all over the kitchen.
But just the thought of the expense and work to have art in a homeschool can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be that way! Creating an art center in your home can offer your children the opportunity to be creative with little work on your part. And the best part is, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Many art materials can be found for free or at low cost. Read on for tips on creating your own homeschool art center, free and low-cost art supplies to stock, and a couple of homemade art recipes that can be made for a few dollars.
Creating Your Space
Consider the best place to set up your art center. If you can, choose a location without carpet. If this isn’t possible, purchase a mat or lay a vinyl table cloth on the floor to protect it. An ideal location would also be near a sink and window.
Be creative with storage. Coffee cans or old coffee cups will hold pencils, markers, crayons, and paint brushes. Shoe boxes work well for paper and craft supplies. Baby food jars are great for items like glitter, buttons, beads, and other small items.
Make It Last
Make your materials last. Even very young children can be taught how to take care of art materials and to put away items after they have used them.
Keep clothes clean. Use old dress shirts or t-shirts as art smocks. Or put an old apron to good use.
Getting It Dry
Create a drying rack for wet paintings in the basement or garage. String up a piece of twine or rope and use clothes pins to hold artwork.
Ask around to find materials. Family members or friends may have boxes of craft supplies collecting dust in storage that they would be happy to find a good home.
Keep an eye out for items at garage sales and thrift stores. Try thinking outside the box. Pieces from an incomplete puzzle or game can be great for crafts.
You can collect all kinds of art materials for free. Newspapers will often give away the end of the newsprint roll or an art store or center may have discarded paper rolls. Some businesses will give away copy paper that has been printed on just one side. Grocery and furniture stores usually have cardboard boxes free for the taking.
Buy items like crayons, markers, and paints in July and August, when they are on sale. Toward the end of August you can often find leftover supplies on clearance.
Make Your Own
Make your own materials. Recipes abound for simple art materials like play dough, paint, and even glue.
Create recycled “giant” crayons. Place unwrapped crayon pieces in muffin tins that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 275 degrees until completely melted, about 7-9 minutes.